Published: 11:30, 31 May 2019
| Updated: 14:08, 27 January 2020
It’s a big boast, so does the Belle Vue live up to its bold claim to be the 'Balcony of Kent'?
Perched on the edge of Pegwell Bay, it certainly has the views and whilst some folk might choose to sit in the bar, most use it as a corridor to get to the main event.
There are tall stools against tall benches right against the cliff edge – don’t panic as the fence looks sturdy, but there are signs reading ‘Customers/children must not climb or play on this structure – management accept no responsibility’.
On a clear day you can see for miles and when the sun shines this place must be heaving. The pub garden, or outside area with a view, is as well-equipped and catered for, if not better, than many whole pubs I’ve visited – there’s a barbecue shack and even a Sunset Bar, the smoking area (called Craven Cottage) is the best furnished fag den I’ve ever seen.
It’s a Shepherd Neame boozer, in fact it was the company’s Pub of the Year in 2017, so I went for a pint of Spitfire at £4.35. The Sheps standard bearer is usually a safe bet and this pint was no exception. Well poured, it might not be one of the elite, but it had enough bite and a pleasing, slightly nutty, flavour.
Even late afternoon the pub was bulging and we were treated to a mass of different accents and languages.
There was even a German at the bar telling jokes. He was on a golfing break, but was happily taking time out to talk about both the war and Brexit with locals. Apparently because we don’t want his BMWs we can’t have his caulis or sprouts either. Not hilarious, but one of the funnier Germans I’ve met.
Nick the landlord was busy restocking fridges on his knees at the time and joined the jokers by claiming he was actually reciting the Lord’s Prayer and hoping that they’d leave.
The pub’s recently been renovated and even the car park has been retarmacked.
I don’t think the small gents was included in the makeover, the radiator may be little rusty but it was still fresh and clean and even had a pot plant in situ – I wasn’t sure why the doors featured photos of Line of Duty stars.
I switched to a pint of Hurlimann at £4.75 and sat back to enjoy the view with the tide out and the bay full of wading birds.
On balance I reckon the 'Balcony of Kent' claim is justified, though drinkers outside the Sir Stanley Gray next door might argue and they’re close enough by to heckle.