Published: 11:30, 13 March 2020
| Updated: 06:41, 16 March 2020
Heading along the A251 with the rain pelting down and a grumbling tum I decided I would pull up at the very next pub, no matter what it looked like.
So, that’s how I ended up dodging the puddles in the car park looking for the quickest way into the Red Lion at Badlesmere, near Faversham.
I have to say the pub is incredibly close to the road and from the side entrance doesn’t look overly inviting.
However, once you’re through the door and your eyes adapt to the slightly dark interior you’ll quickly realise you’ve made exactly the right choice.
Strings of beautiful, still-green Kent hops are hung around the beams and there are traditional horse brasses and proper pub furniture throughout.
A mere glance along the bar immediately informs you this is a free house and, even more interestingly, that your host is prepared to serve a few lesser known beverages.
Breaking with tradition, and only because I was Hank Marvin, I placed my food order before even considering what I might have to drink. But, with a three egg omelette and chips in the offering, I transferred my full attention to barmaid Linda and, having tasted a few options, was sold on the Montgomery from the Wantsum Brewery at St Nicolas At Wade, near Margate.
An American hopped IPA at 4% it’s a fantastic tasting pint and you know at once they look after their beer properly at the Red Lion.
There were two incredibly comfy-looking red chairs perfectly placed in front of the open fire but a couple of locals had already snagged them and their hound Lexie was well snuggled into her bed.
The electronic till was making me even more hungry as it kept showing photos of great looking food – there’s also a traditional ding-dong (Avon calling) style of bell to tell the bar staff when food can be collected from the kitchen.
When my turn came the food was absolutely superb.
None of your gastro-pub pristine presentation of just a few morsels – no, what you get here is freshly cooked, incredibly tasty proper pub food, it was great. I’m not sure why I chose an omelette as there was stacks of choice on the menu but when it was delivered I was delighted with my selection.
By now I was through the Montgomery and as the last moreish mouthful disappeared I was particularly taken by the note at the bottom of the glass – yes, I did ‘wantsum more’.
There’s no pool, darts, fruit machines, jukebox or anything else to trouble you so I, like everyone else, just chatted and I discovered Lexie, whose beard drips water as she drinks, is not only a show cocker spaniel, she is also a hearing dog for her equally lovely owner Ruth.
While I was in a fellow from the local brewery made a fresh delivery and I’m sure this is a pub with a well-stocked bar and great new beers on a rapid turnaround.
I’m only able to report what I find on a particular visit, but I have to say gazing through the torrential rain pelting the back windows I couldn’t help but yearn for some warm sunshine as I’m sure the garden must be great in the summer.
Leaving by the much more pleasant door at the back, away from the speeding traffic, I spotted a very polite message from the pub dog Gatsby and was just a little disappointed I didn’t get to meet him.
There are several nods to trendier pub innovations - face moisturiser in the gents and trendy lightbulbs which don’t give out quite enough light - but for the most part the Red Lion is pub which quite rightly believes in maintaining traditional quality – something it does really well.
Now, there’s just one more thing I need to tell you, although I didn’t notice this myself until I was literally about to leave.
The entire menu is gluten-free.
Well, I’m not a man who goes out of his way to be free of anything – give me red meat, carbs, fat, salt – the more the merrier.
And, to be fair, there wouldn’t have been gluten in my meal anyway, but to have such an interesting and extensive menu as this for folk who need to be gluten free must be a real treat.