Published: 06:00, 25 June 2021
Sitting right on the border of Kent in the most fantastic pub garden, I chose the most locally brewed beer possible - even though it came from another county.
The White Hart in Newenden is within spitting distance of the River Rother, the natural boundary dividing Kent and East Sussex, but the RVBC Brewery, (Rother Valley Brewing Company) which the barmen assured me is only 600 yards away, sits on the other side of the water.
The garden is superbly maintained with a whole row of what looked like stables down the right hand side. Closer inspection confirmed they were indeed designed to look like stables but they are indoor drinking areas, each one named after a famous racehorse. These do need to be reserved but there is no charge for securing your own private equine area.
It’s a big garden and, at the far end, there is a large section given over to kids - it also has the most fantastic views across the neighbouring countryside.
The pub’s owners obviously work hard on maintaining its appearance and during our visit well-endowed hanging baskets were being installed every six feet or so along the front and side of this picturesque boozer.
It was a scorching hot day and we made good use of a Fosters umbrella, indeed I would go as far as to say, given the 30 degree reading from the temperature gauge on the wall, it’s the one and only time I’ve be grateful for the existence of the amber nectar.
The garden has its own purpose-built bar, a stack of seating and a lovely relaxed atmosphere – unfortunately, the day we were in you did occasionally get a little waft of a sewage smell when the wind was in the wrong direction which did take the edge off the otherwise idyllic setting.
There was plenty of choice at the bar but I prefer to sample local brews when I get the chance and Level Best (4%) from the Rother Valley Brewing Company was a very decent drop with plenty of taste. A golden beer I found it had a fruity flavour which really lingered.
Mrs SD stuck to the Sauvignon Blanc and, although I’m sure it isn’t her intention, might reignite the wine debate.
Much to her consternation, waiter Ben delivered a glass containing just 175ml of the New Zealand variety. Questioned further he was candid enough to admit they only offer medium and small measures as the owner has discovered it makes better ‘financial sense’.
I was hoping Mrs SD, a strong believer in one size fits all (and that size is 250ml), might adapt her drinking speed but it was never likely and the mediums disappeared at a rapid rate – it seems the owner’s money-making logic stacks up. The wine though, was very palatable and definitely passed muster.
My bitter, costing a mere £3.90 and coming in the established measure was never going to be contentious.
We decided to take a light lunch and ordered a variety of items from the extensive menu.
I was won over immediately by the locally-grown asparagus, wrapped in parma ham and cooked in garlic butter – it melted in the mouth.
We shared a garlic bread with mozzarella and Mrs SD declared the items on her pizza as the three most ideal toppings ever invented for a lump of sourdough. Overall the food was very fresh and very tasty.
This is a popular place with walkers and is clearly a favoured stopping off spot for a number of ramblers clubs. One such group, with a fellow who looked remarkably like Crocodile Dundee, took control of a large central table and took off their socks to compare blisters.
There was a complete mix of age groups in when we visited and I also noted a high percentage of hairy hounds so maybe the SD mutt will get lucky next time.
And, talking of wacky beasts, I couldn’t help but notice the delightfully rusty and askew patio heater which looked as if it might have been run over – does anyone remember Fender from Robots?
But, a final mention must be reserved for another slightly offbeat character who features in a photo hung in the side bar.
This genial-looking guy, pictured with a pint and a Sunday roast, is welcoming punters with a ‘traditional’ two-handed, two-fingered salute. Then, just to enforce the message the first thing you see in the garden is a tree mirroring the welcome.
Whatever you do, don’t be put off, it’s all in good fun and you’ll be hard pushed to find a more welcoming pub.
The White Hart, Rye Road, Newenden, Cranbrook TN18 5PN
Decor: The pub is packed full of character both inside and out with plenty of fascinating features. Though on a warm day the garden is definitely where you want to be. ****
Drink: The NZ Sauvignon Blanc was crisp and fruity. The Level Best is a decent golden bitter with plenty of flavour and a lingering citrus aftertaste. ***
Price: The bitter was just £3.90 a pint. If you go for lager instead then a Peroni will set you back a smidgeon over a fiver. The Sav Blanc would work out as £9.14 for a large – if you were able to buy one! ***
Food: Delivered in good time, the food was all freshly cooked, beautifully presented and very tasty. ****
Staff: Very polite and attentive, the staff were all very pleasant. Despite being fairly busy they still found the odd moment to chat. ****