I was after a pint in the White Horse or the Oak on The Green in Bearsted, but a total lack of parking on a Saturday evening made it impossible so I reluctantly headed away from the traditional heart of the village.
The first pub I came to was The Yeoman on Ashford Road – stacks of parking and it looked newly renovated. Surely this was fate?
Prior to last November it was the Lion of Kent and such a major facelift, complete with name change, might make you wonder what its reputation was like previously?
But it’s not for me to judge a pub’s past, I simply comment on a snapshot in time.
At first I was reminded of a roadside diner, but the staff behind the bar at the back were welcoming and friendly, if a little confused and inexperienced.
The young fellow, with rosy cheeks, gave me a good measure of Tribute Cornish pale ale, 4.2%, to try. The measure was so good it was more than half a pint – so generous I felt compelled to go for it. It wasn’t overly tasty but acceptable and refreshing, I reckon you could definitely down a few of these.
I avoided the section which looked like a breakout area with leather wing backed chairs and a green sofa and settled myself next to a large fireplace filled with a pile of logs. From here I had a clear view of both the conservatory, with its Christmas-style decorations, and the kitchen via the side door, with its used tea towels covering the floor.
I might have been persuaded to stay put but the music was absurdly lift-like (Eduardo Braga performing Falling in Love With You and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road) so I headed out back to try the garden.
Unfortunately it wasn’t completed during the refurb and whilst the scaffold planks on the trunks matched the tables inside, the path looks like it’s been made with cat litter and I fear the rest of the work may never be completed.
I can report that the toilets are clean and fresh but there’s something of a mobile home about them – there is a camera in the gents but not directly above the urinals.
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A dog bowl and a jar of free treats indicated four-legged friends are welcome and we were even presented with a pile of cards to receive 40 per cent off our food bill during future visits.
There are some nice touches, flowers in vases on each table, some chunky furniture and pleasant checked curtains, but overall it just didn’t feel very pub-like.
And finally, a warning, mind the step as you leave or you could end up leaving even more swiftly than you intended.
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