Published: 11:30, 04 September 2020
| Updated: 12:15, 04 September 2020
I couldn’t get in at the New Inn at Sandwich as it was already packed out, so wandered a few yards further down the road and popped into the Fleur De Lis Hotel.
It was only 1.20pm but the barmaid said she needed to check with the kitchen to see if lunch was still being served. Having got the green light for food I requested the best beer they had available.
This turned out to be a Fosters as there was no beer on and she rated this as the top lager.
There were taps displaying both Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter and Sharp's Doom Bar but, for one reason or another, neither were in operation.
Even combining the ages of all three barmaids on duty at this Delf Street pub they were going to struggle to match my ever-advancing years, but they were all upbeat, friendly and efficient.
Once through the door you turn right for the restaurant proper, but I headed left and found a table in the bar adorned by guitars.
There’s also a large room at the side with pool, a bar billiard table and darts – these are all sadly mothballed at the moment and looked a little sad surrounded by the hotel laundry bags.
I was peckish enough but not starving so ordered a portion of chicken wings and a bowl of cheesy nachos.
The food arrived in a timely fashion and I just about had time to pop to the loo and wash my hands before tucking in.
Whilst I’m on the subject, the ceiling of the gents is exactly six feet from the floor, which I know because standing flat footed my head was perfectly wedged. There is a sign as you enter the gents advising you to mind the step down, good advice but taller guys than me also need to watch their bonce.
On the way back to my seat, I noticed a piano in the entrance hall at the bottom of the hotel stairs and wondered how often it gets played these days, I do hope the ivories are tickled occasionally.
The other thing I couldn’t help noticing was that I was in a serious minority, I don’t know why, and I don’t know whether it’s a regular thing or just happened to be the case this lunchtime, but the number of ladies in seriously outnumbered the men, particularly if you include the staff.
By now the food was on the table and taking my full attention, and I have to say for bar bite fare it was really very good indeed, fresh nachos smothered in cheese and other delights and, having selected the hottest sauce available for my wings, they left me with reassuring tingly lips.
Yep, the food was so good I hardly noticed the Fosters.
The hotel looks as if it has recently been renovated and redecorated and whilst some elements are slightly dated it is generally airy and light.
I spotted an old fashioned bell hung above the bar which is presumably still used to call time. There are also candles in old bottles on each table and judging by the quantity of wax which has accumulated these have been in use for some time.
There was music playing in the background but it was set at a sensible level and didn’t make conversation difficult – from what I remember a good variety of different bands and artists were featured, the only one I can recollect for sure was Losing My Religion by REM, which took me back several decades.
Finally, just as I was about to leave, the sausage count doubled when regular Andy popped into the bar with his faithful hound, Creed, an 11-month-old American bulldog.
The bar staff rushed to welcome Andy’s faithful friend and produced a bowl of water in double quick time.
With equal alacrity Andy ordered a pint for Gemma, who was busy sorting out the hotel’s laundry and looked extremely grateful, not only for the pint, but also for the opportunity to take a well-earned five minute break.
Heavily tattooed around her neck from ear to ear, I must admit I found the design of her artwork fascinating.
Having shared a few words with all my three new found friends I headed back out into the Sandwich sunshine to make my way back to the day job.
Fleur De Lis Hotel, 6-8 Delf Street, Sandwich CT13 9BZ
Decor: The bar and dining room are decorated with the same colour scheme but the bar area to the left features several posters for bands and gigs as well as seven different guitars. ***
Drink: Even the Harvey’s was unavailable and it was extremely disappointing not to have any beers on at all. As for Fosters being the best available, I despair! *
Price: The Fosters was £4.40, which isn’t particularly cheap, but the cheesy nachos and chicken wings were both good at £4.30 each (plus I just scraped in for the ‘eat out – help out’ discount). ***
Atmosphere: It was mainly ladies lunching and both the dining room and bar were fairly subdued but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. ***
Staff: I was served by Claudia, one third of the absurdly youthful trio, and she was attentive, efficient and friendly. ****