The sign on the front of the pub reads 1885 and from the road The White Hart in Brasted looks a little tired and the paintwork is beginning to show its age.
But, if you wander in via the side entrance from the car park you find yourself in an absolutely stunning garden and the whole place looks smart and well presented.
The pub is mainly set up for diners but, unlike the paint job outside, there has clearly been a full makeover inside and it looks as if no expense was spared.
We were in for opening time, noon on Thursday, and I was dispatched to place our order while Mrs SD took the opportunity to secure a table in the sunshine.
The beer on offer was either London Pride or Doom Bar, so a little bit devil and the deep blue sea for me, but I went for a pint of Pride, just for a change as much as anything.
I also made sure I entered my car registration on the screen at the bar. Later I heard one fellow chuntering that last time he was in he was fined £85 for parking as he hadn’t realised.
Though I have no idea how he didn’t realise as there are plenty of signs warning you about the process.
I haven’t been here for years and it’s changed completely, but I’m pleased to be able to report the impressive ‘memorial’ element, which marks the fact Second World War pilots from Biggin Hill met for a well-earned pint at this boozer, has been retained.
The chalkboard and photographs of these brave young men are proudly displayed and it’s well worth taking a moment or two to remember the incredible price many of these young men paid for the freedom we enjoy.
By the time I returned to the garden area I noted, a little disappointingly, a workman had taped an area off and was noisily replacing slabs.
But Mrs SD has selected a perch right next to one of the speakers which was pumping music outside so much of his bashing and banging was masked by Sabrina Carpenter singing Nonsense, but it’s still a shame he couldn’t have done the work when the pub was closed in the morning.
When it came to the food I was clearly in healthy mode, well relatively at least, and chose a chicken, bacon and avocado salad. It was fresh, crunchy and tasty and I enjoyed it, but with a price tag of £16.25 it certainly couldn’t be described as cheap.
Not to be outdone on the health kick Mrs SD went for a nourish bowl, which was £3.50 cheaper than my meal as it didn’t include any extras.
However, without adding anything else she said it was a little bland and tasteless.
I took a break from the heat to pop back inside and take a look at the photographs in more detail, there was a great black and white shot of an aircrew on the stairs.
While I was in the manager was just concluding a brief interview with a young lady for a three-days a week position and granted her a trial on Saturday saying she would get her apron then.
Like so many hostelries, at both ends of the scale, the toilets are found at the end of a considerable flight of stairs. In this case the staircase was one of the creakiest I’ve come across but the photos on the wall were well worth the climb.
The long, narrow gents were traditionally tiled and well maintained. There was a window at the far end with old fashioned shutters to keep the powerful sunshine at bay.
There’s no place for a dartboard, pool table or jukebox but I did spot a couple of dog bowls dotted about so man’s best friend is clearly welcomed.
Mitchells and Butler are obviously keen to promote the White Hart as a gastropub at the upper end of the scale.
The pub has been decorated accordingly and the garden beautifully manicured, even to the point of having stripes in the lawn, but the prices have been set to match this.
The food, whilst perfectly pleasant, didn’t have the wow factor and the list of drinks available was decidedly disappointing.
As M&B pubs go I have to say this is definitely one of the better ones I’ve visited and the garden in particular was impressive, but a record-breaking number of picnic tables and well clipped bushes are not enough to justify such a hefty price tag.
The White Hart, High Street, Brasted, Westerham TN16 1JE
Decor: Inside the pub has been thoughtfully renovated and is impressive, but the all-important history has been retained. The garden is incredibly well maintained but the front could do with a facelift. ****
Drink: There were just two draught beers available and they were London Pride and Doom Bar. Mrs SD described the wine as ‘okay’ and said she expected better. **
Price: A pint of Pride was £5.20 and a large ‘okay’ Sauvignon Blanc was £10.85. My salad was £16.25 and a ‘nourish bowl’ of sliced veg was £12.75 so it certainly isn’t cheap. **
Food: My salad was excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mrs SD’s meal was fresh and the vegetables had a reasonable crunch but she felt it was a little bland. ***
Staff: I’m not sure whether it should be considered a positive or a negative, but the only thing I can say about the staff is that they blended into the background and weren’t really noticeable. The service was timely and everyone was perfectly polite. ***