Published: 11:30, 06 November 2020
| Updated: 11:48, 06 November 2020
With a second lockdown just hours away there wasn’t a moment to lose, so I headed straight out to sample another new pub before the doors were forced to close again.
Heading down the hill into Lamberhurst, near Tunbridge Wells, the three of us pulled over at the first pub we came to and sent Mrs SD in to see if a table was available.
Fortunately the George & Dragon had enough space in its dining room to fit us in – unfortunately, there was no room in the car park so we drove on a little and parked on the road outside neighbouring pub The Chequers. It looked very inviting but we resisted the temptation to venture in and retraced our steps along School Hill.
We walked past a trio of scaffolders enjoying a fag on the doorstep and joined my good lady to wait in the reception area as a table was being cleaned for us.
The legend printed on the wall read: “Welcome, may all who enter as guest leave as friends” (sic) - well, everyone seemed friendly and we certainly received a warm welcome.
We were shown through a busy, warm front bar and into a cooler, and quieter, dining room at side of the pub – the side with the river running past.
It’s a large room with heavy, dark beams and plain white walls. It gives the impression of being in a period of transition and I wasn’t altogether surprised to hear a new landlady took over fairly recently.
The wooden floorboards are stripped back and it may be the gaps in these that make the place a little draughty – though there was a gas fire in place which did take the edge off.
Our smiley and helpful waitress Georgia informed us a mum and her two daughters took the place on in February, adding that one of the daughters is her godmother.
You don’t get the opportunity to gaze longingly down a line of pumps to select your beer these days, so I just asked for the best bitter they had on tap.
It turned out to be Harvey’s Best and it was only when I decided to follow up with something different that I realised it was also the only one available. I shifted across to the Birra Moretti, which was absolutely fine. Mrs SD stuck firmly with her Sauvignon Blanc as she said, for the money, it was the best she’d had for a long time.
She might have got the drink right, but when it came to the food I was definitely the victor. My Fiery One pizza was absolutely superb and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
She opted for a scampi and chips, with peas, which was absolutely fine but it wasn’t in the same league as the pizza.
It was a shame as she would definitely have gone for the pie, but they were all gone and when the table next to us was served we realised why – all five had the pie and, to rub salt into the wound, all glowed about the quality. To answer the famous question, they definitely ‘did eat all the pies!’
There was a jukebox in action and one of the two fruit machines was available, although I didn’t see anyone use it.
There was also a separate room at the back with a pool table which was unsurprisingly locked but I suspect it would usually be very busy.
The door to the gents, as seems to be the fashion while we have Covid, was wedged open so there are less contact points to touch. I can report that the toilets are some of the best-maintained I have ever had the pleasure to visit.
I particularly liked the livelier feel created in the front bar and if there had been a table available I would have loved to join the regulars on this final evening before lockdown.
Overall I can report we thoroughly enjoyed our last visit to a pub for at least four weeks and I’m sure the new, and very brave, landlady is as disappointed at having to close as everyone else.
I wish her every success in this new venture and fervently hope the George & Dragon is able to withstand closing up for a month or more and come back stronger than ever in December.
The George & Dragon – School Hill, Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells TN3 8DQ
Decor: Feels a bit like a pub in transition and we both felt it could benefit from the addition of a few homely touches. I’m sure the new landlady has this in hand. ***
Drink: There was only one draft beer available, but the Harvey’s was fine and you can’t really go wrong with Birra Moretti. The wine scored well. ***
Price: It may have been a last night before lockdown special offer but both the bitter and the lager were the same price - £2.50 is pretty good for a pint of Harvey’s, it’s even better for a Moretti. A large Sauvignon Blanc was £5.95. ****
Food: The pizza was five stars all the way and if there’d just been one more pie left I think it would have been top marks here. ****
Staff: Given the current challenges, I don’t see how anyone could have been more welcoming, more helpful or more pleasant – everyone was incredibly upbeat. *****