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Secret Drinker reviews Bunters - a Craft Union pub in Station Street, Sittingbourne


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The barman at Bunters was on his mobile busy assuring his boss: “Yes, the pub’s still standing, there’s really no need to worry”.

He continued his business update while pouring my pint and confirming Heineken had been in and the council had made contact – who says blokes can’t multitask?

Craft Union has a couple of pubs in Sittingbourne, Bunters on Station Street used to be the Golden Eagle but changed its name more than 30 years ago
Craft Union has a couple of pubs in Sittingbourne, Bunters on Station Street used to be the Golden Eagle but changed its name more than 30 years ago

This Craft Union pub on Station Street in Sittingbourne had clearly been left in good hands because once he’d served me and put landlady Sharon’s mind at rest he began cleaning the windows.

It was lunchtime and I was peckish but this boozer doesn’t do food so I had to settle for a pack of salt and vinegar with my Moretti.

It was midday but there were already four occupied tables, each containing a solitary bloke, all older than me, the majority armed with a walking stick, who mostly sat in silence but occasionally shouted nonsense to each other.

They needed to yell to make themselves heard above the combined noise of Kenny Rogers belting out The Gambler – ‘you got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em’ and, ironically, the noise being created by a woman emptying two huge electronic fruit machines.

Once her sacks were full she asked multi-efficient barman Paul for directions to the nearest post office and shuffled out.

Once the fruit machines had been emptied and the takings totalled up the place was a fair bit quieter
Once the fruit machines had been emptied and the takings totalled up the place was a fair bit quieter

Two big TV screens were showing a totally inconsequential cricket match and the other two were pointlessly displaying horse racing. Fortunately there was no sound on any of them.

The barman, a true professional who clearly knows plenty about the trade, was again cleaning anything and everything in sight on the basis it made the time pass more quickly.

The only ale available was London Pride so I felt duty bound to try a pint and it was fine, if anything slightly better than usual with a head that lasted a little longer.

I struck up a conversation with Irishman Vinny so left my patched up, leather-look, bench seat and joined him at his table.

In case of a rush – extra glasses are kept within arm’s reach. The flowers, and a card signed by regulars, were for the boss’ daughter who was celebrating her 25th birthday
In case of a rush – extra glasses are kept within arm’s reach. The flowers, and a card signed by regulars, were for the boss’ daughter who was celebrating her 25th birthday

He’s 82-years-young, and I found him a fascinating fellow and shared several pleasant moments discussing the history of the pub (this used to be the Golden Eagle) and Vinny’s homeland.

Another local, sat at the next table, joined our conversation but when I spoke to him he took offence and inexplicably became argumentative and rude. By pure coincidence the music changed at this point and Lily Allen’s F*** You came on – my thoughts exactly.

There is a smoking area out back, complete with another TV screen, but nobody seems to use it, preferring instead to stand on the pavement at the side of the pub.

No outside/garden area would be complete without its own TV screen these days - although the weather would need to be warm up a bit for me to start using this one
No outside/garden area would be complete without its own TV screen these days - although the weather would need to be warm up a bit for me to start using this one
The fence in the back yard is decorated with a selection of ‘long-lasting’ flowers and shrubs as well as a full selection of tags displaying pithy sayings
The fence in the back yard is decorated with a selection of ‘long-lasting’ flowers and shrubs as well as a full selection of tags displaying pithy sayings

Bunters opens at 10am sharp every day and the pub has teams for both darts and pool.

The neatly tiled gents looked like they had also benefitted from Paul's desire to make the time pass more quickly as they were generally clean and fresh - the stainless steel trough would prove a real challenge even for Mrs Hinch though.

I haven’t visited a Craft Union pub for a little while and apart from the attentions of one miserable punter generally enjoyed the experience. But, they must be like buses as I’m told there’s another CU boozer in town so maybe I’ll have to get along Sittingbourne High Street another time and pay the Red Lion a visit.

The urinal debate continues, bowl or trough? Bunters favours the stainless steel trough and although there was a wet floor sign on standby it wasn’t needed.
The urinal debate continues, bowl or trough? Bunters favours the stainless steel trough and although there was a wet floor sign on standby it wasn’t needed.
Bunters opens from 10am every day
Bunters opens from 10am every day

Bunters, 1 Station Street, Sittingbourne ME10 3DU

Decor: The padded benches have been patched and some furnishings look decidedly tired – though I have to say everything was as clean and tidy as possible, most likely down to Paul’s efforts. **

Drink: Either I’m learning to appreciate a pint of Pride more due to increased exposure or Paul knows how to keep and pour a pint. The Moretti was fine, but it’s a shame there aren’t more beers available. **

Price: Craft Union prices are pretty darned competitive – A Moretti is £4, a pint of London Pride £2.40 and a packet of crisps £1 (which seems standard in most places these days). ****

Staff: Barman Paul is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in the trade, Sharon is lucky to have him holding the reins. ****

Barman Paul is a real professional behind the pumps. Efficient service, friendly chat and he still had time to keep the place as clean as a new pin.
Barman Paul is a real professional behind the pumps. Efficient service, friendly chat and he still had time to keep the place as clean as a new pin.
There are a number of local photos displayed on the pub walls, this one shows Sittingbourne flooded in 1953
There are a number of local photos displayed on the pub walls, this one shows Sittingbourne flooded in 1953

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