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Secret Drinker reviews The Three Tuns in Lower Halstow, Sittingbourne


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Sitting right on the roadside in Lower Halstow there’s a free house that has been welcoming visitors for more than 500 years.

The Three Tuns is rightly proud of its history, but hasn’t been afraid to change and adapt to the needs of a modern world.

Right on the roadside in Lower Halstow, The Three Tuns was serving ale to local folk long before cars were using The Street
Right on the roadside in Lower Halstow, The Three Tuns was serving ale to local folk long before cars were using The Street

It’s a huge lump of a place and walking in through the low front door you immediately enter a massive front bar. Just a word of warning – whether you arrive on four wheels and use the car park, or choose to take a stroll and arrive on two feet, make sure you stay behind the chains outside, the traffic isn’t far from the front of the pub.

Heavily beamed with the ever-popular stripped wooden floor, despite its age the main bar is light and airy with a huge amount of exposed brickwork on show.

The large front bar is heavily beamed with stripped wooden floors but despite the small windows highly effective lighting makes it bright and airy
The large front bar is heavily beamed with stripped wooden floors but despite the small windows highly effective lighting makes it bright and airy

Waitresses were still busy sanitizing everything in sight from the menus to salt pots to just about everything else anyone might touch.

We were only in for a drink and were directed to a low table between two large leather sofas before being offered table service.

Our waitress, clearly a beer drinker of some distinction, was more than happy to share her direct knowledge of the drinks and say the pub is proud to offer a good selection of real ales.

The wine was pretty good but even Mrs SD reckoned the Brewers Reserve was so good she might be tempted by a pint next time she’s in
The wine was pretty good but even Mrs SD reckoned the Brewers Reserve was so good she might be tempted by a pint next time she’s in
There are plenty of good options available – from left, Kent Brewery’s 5.0% pale ale, Three Tuns’ own bitter brewed for the pub by the Wantsum Brewery, Goachers Mild, A stout from Canterbury Ales and a very local cider from Dudda’s Tun
There are plenty of good options available – from left, Kent Brewery’s 5.0% pale ale, Three Tuns’ own bitter brewed for the pub by the Wantsum Brewery, Goachers Mild, A stout from Canterbury Ales and a very local cider from Dudda’s Tun

On advice I selected a pint of Brewers Reserve from the Kent Brewery. Describing itself as pale with attitude, it is a very light colour but is wonderfully hoppy with a real depth of flavour.

As American-style pale ales go this one is right up there with the very best and even Mrs SD put down her wine to sample this citrus treat and said next time she’ll order one – we’ll see!

And then, on top of having the nerve to drink my beer, she suddenly decided she was also peckish and reached for a menu.

Bright, modern and recently redecorated, the games area behind the main bar has a dartboard and jukebox for those looking for more than just conversation
Bright, modern and recently redecorated, the games area behind the main bar has a dartboard and jukebox for those looking for more than just conversation
There is a large paved patio area at the back of the pub with a number of separate covered seating areas beyond that
There is a large paved patio area at the back of the pub with a number of separate covered seating areas beyond that

I left her deciding and took a swift wander around this big village pub. If anything, it is even larger outside and, although it was deserted on this slightly chillier evening there was still music being piped to numerous empty tables.

At the far end of the immense open air patio area there are also half a dozen decent sized seating areas under cover.

Behind the main bar to the left there is a much more modern looking room given over to games with a dartboard, jukebox and tall tables with stools. Outside to the left of this room is a dedicated smoking area which is, once again, very smartly furnished and incredibly well protected against the elements.

Back in the bar the menu had been devoured and a warm ciabatta called a chip shop had been ordered - battered fish fingers, mushy peas and house tartare. We were warned there might be a short wait as it was fairly busy with several large tables putting in orders. In fact, it arrived very promptly and all I can say is this fish must have had extremely large fingers.

The fish finger sandwich is described as a chip shop on the menu – it was a real monster
The fish finger sandwich is described as a chip shop on the menu – it was a real monster
The bitter is brewed specially for The Three Tuns by the Wantsum Brewery
The bitter is brewed specially for The Three Tuns by the Wantsum Brewery

Seriously, I’ve ordered large cod and chips and been served less than this, it was mahoosive. Mrs SD gave it a strong thumbs up, though there was no way she could finish it.

Not having the SD hound along, we declined to sample dog treats at £2.50 and certainly swerved the dog beer (£3.50) but although none were in, furry friends are definitely catered for.

The pub, as you’d probably expect, is mainly set out for dining although there were two guys stood stoically at the bar during our visit.

We can report that both sets of toilets are superbly maintained with nothing more than a faint whiff of bleach from the gents – though the men do gain the bonus of having tasteful photographic interest in their facilities.

Clean, fresh and superbly maintained, there was nothing more than a faint whiff of bleach in the gents
Clean, fresh and superbly maintained, there was nothing more than a faint whiff of bleach in the gents
With its white tiles and stainless steel the gents were decorated with a few tasteful fashion shots from yesteryear – I’m reliably informed the ladies are photo-free
With its white tiles and stainless steel the gents were decorated with a few tasteful fashion shots from yesteryear – I’m reliably informed the ladies are photo-free

Back in the bar Mrs SD had finally munched through most of her sandwich and I took one final look around before heading back out into the early evening. There is a TV screen over the fireplace at the end of the bar area but I assume it is only switched on for major sporting events. I also noticed the hops slung all around the bar are starting to look very brown and crispy but I assume they are due to be replaced very shortly.

And, if you do feel the need to check exactly where you are while you’ll find a number of aerial shots of the pub and the village on one wall.

Alongside the fireplace I spotted this interesting little nook – I wonder if its original use was as a bread oven?
Alongside the fireplace I spotted this interesting little nook – I wonder if its original use was as a bread oven?
Right on the roadside – it’s best to play it safe and make sure you’re on the right side of the chains
Right on the roadside – it’s best to play it safe and make sure you’re on the right side of the chains

The Three Tuns, The Street, Lower Halstow, Sittingbourne ME9 7DY

Decor: **** For me the pub achieves a good balance between celebrating its considerable heritage, dating right back to 1470, and yet also having fantastic modern furnishings.

Drink: **** Priding itself on a good choice of real ales at all times, the staff are also knowledgeable about what’s being served. I particularly rated the Kent Brewery’s Brewers Reserve.

Price: *** The pale ale was £4.10 a pint and bitter 15p cheaper. A large Sauvignon Blanc was £5.75. I certainly wouldn’t consider spending £3.50 on a beer for the SD hound!

Food: *** The chip shop, a fish finger sandwich in ciabatta, was £8.45 but it was absolutely massive and the cod, encased in plenty of very crispy batter, was cooked really well.

Staff: **** Knowledgeable, pleasant and chatty when they had a moment to spare, our hostess was proud to share details about the Three Tuns considerable history.

Read all Secret Drinker's Kent pub reviews here

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