Published: 11:30, 01 November 2019
| Updated: 14:33, 27 January 2020
It’s quite a while since I’ve found myself on this stretch of the busy A25 and it’s several years since I last ventured into the White Horse in Sundridge, near Sevenoaks.
The place has obviously had a top-to-toe makeover since I was last in and further investigation revealed the new owners completely renovated the pub a year ago.
With low chunky beams, wooden floors and hefty leather sofas, much of the original charm has been maintained but the dining areas have been well decorated and the tables were beautifully presented. Although the place is open plan it’s quite cleverly divided into distinct areas.
Not that the pub was packed during a mid-week lunchtime, but there were a smattering of tables taken and the manageress says things have picked up nicely in recent weeks.
We selected a high table with large comfortable stools right next to the bar and I spotted a lager on tap that you won’t come across very often, Krosovice.
It’s a fairly powerful, full bodied Czech lager and at 5% is reasonably strong.
With a decent foamy head and a clean, crisp taste it’s also not cheap but is well worth trying when you get the chance.
Perhaps not one you’d drink all night, but a great one-off pint or perhaps a couple on a summer’s evening.
By now landlady Anna was in deep conversation with one regular about finding a carpet fitter so she left the serving to barmaid Katie who was chatty and friendly. In fact, she was friendly enough to admit that after having a few strong lagers herself she becomes a lot more animated and goes by the name of Patricia!
We’d kept the food order simple with a ham and cheese baguette and a portion of chunky chips at just 5p short of a tenner.
The food did take a little while to arrive, but I always consider this a good sign and you could tell everything had been prepared freshly and the pub is proud to source as many ingredients locally as possible.
By now the landlady was munching her way through what looked like a cream donut though she was adamant it was an egg mayo sandwich. The food, when it arrived, was excellent and, whilst not particularly cheap, you definitely get what you pay for.
The owners have two other pubs but they are both Shepherd Neame houses, whereas this is Star Heineken, which presumably paid for and carried out the makeover.
There were no signs of why they needed a carpet fitter as everywhere looked complete – I’m sure you can picture the new look as you’ll have seen it elsewhere many times before, the usual trendy grey paint, lightbulbs with glowing filaments, painted beams and exposed brickwork.
The outside has been worked on too and walking from the car park you pass a large, raised outside garden area as well as a paved area with several more tables.
At this point the only other couple left in the pub, apart from us, decided to leave and received the most heartfelt goodbye I’ve ever seen from a landlady.
It was only when Anna explained they were her grandparents and they make a special journey from Bromley every week just for lunch that everything became clear. Now, that’s what I call a supportive family.
I might not be a family member but Anna couldn’t have been more welcoming and it’s clear this is a pub which takes the quality of its service and customer care seriously.
There’s no getting away from the fact the food and drink is on the dear side, but they’re rightly proud to use local produce and cook everything from scratch.
A father and son partnership, Simon and Dan Barton, own the White Horse and are rightly delighted with the way the place has been turned around.
Manager Anna reckons they have plans to add several more pubs to their Liquor Box and Pantry portfolio, perhaps as many as 10, so there could be more in the pipeline very soon.
This is a classic example of the new wave of upper end gastro pubs taking over Kent villages – and if this is your thing then you’ll love it.