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Secret Drinker reviews the Scared Crow pub, Offham Road, West Malling

It seems a long time ago that I was enjoying being squeezed into the pub, now it’s the pubs themselves which are feeling the squeeze and times have never been tighter. It’s vital we all do whatever we can to support our local boozers while they struggle to survive closures due to the new dreaded ‘C’ word.

We all dream of the day we can again lift a pint to toast the future of those familiar surroundings we so crave. In the meantime, pubs are doing whatever they can to get by and we need to back them.

Hidden away in the back streets of West Malling, the Scared Crow is well worth taking the time and trouble to seek out.
Hidden away in the back streets of West Malling, the Scared Crow is well worth taking the time and trouble to seek out.

Takeaways and collections are the order of the day, so I’ve decided to take a look at what some pubs are able to offer.

I’m making a start just off the beaten track in a little place I’ve visited before in the back streets of West Malling. The Scared Crow is a pub/restaurant that is now offering a collection menu.

So, how is it choosing to operate and what measures does it have in place to comply with Government recommendations?

First of all, they’ve got a collection menu online for you to choose from. And, unlike some other places, it hasn’t been cut back to the bare minimum – there is more than enough to choose from with a wide range of Mexican food, pizzas and burgers.

Also, I was really pleased to see they’d amended their opening times and shown them clearly on the site, too many other places haven’t bothered and it can be really confusing and frustrating.

Just imagine, sitting in the beer garden to enjoy a pint! Well, hopefully one day before too long. For now it’s become the pick-up point.
Just imagine, sitting in the beer garden to enjoy a pint! Well, hopefully one day before too long. For now it’s become the pick-up point.

The process couldn’t be easier – you ring up and leave your phone number, they then ring you back to take your order and allocate you a time to collect.

In our case it wasn’t too late at 6.15pm – which is good because I was starving and Mrs SD wouldn’t have sunk too many Sav Blancs by this stage either!

And, the ‘handover’ element is well organised too. Walking towards the pub there are clear signs requesting you collect your food from the back of the pub. You approach the back door and, from a safe distance, the staff can see you’ve arrived. You then stand back and the chef, who was wearing a mask by the way, brings your order out and leaves it on the side where you simply collect it once he’s back inside – it couldn’t be simpler or more effective.

Well packaged, the order was left on the side to be collected and social distancing was maintained at all times.
Well packaged, the order was left on the side to be collected and social distancing was maintained at all times.

I can therefore confidently report social distancing is fully functioning in this corner of town. Now, I can also reveal I have visited this establishment in much happier times, though I’ve never reviewed the Scared Crow. Believe me, without the dreaded ‘C’ word and all the restrictions that go with it, there’s never been much social distancing here.

Getting through to the gents at the far side of this bar in ‘normal’ times is one of the tightest squeezes you’re likely to encounter. I’d go so far as to say that on past occasions I’ve been pressed up and so close to certain people I’ve unintentionally been aware exactly what they had in their pockets. Of course, there was always a lottery element, depending upon who was in, as some folk are more interesting to be pressed up against than others!

Anyway, enough of this reminiscing about happier times, though I do look forward to being crushed in the Crow again. I’m sure you want to hear about the food.

I chose the quattro stagioni but asked the chef to spread the ingredients across the pizza rather than dividing it in quarters.
I chose the quattro stagioni but asked the chef to spread the ingredients across the pizza rather than dividing it in quarters.

Having withdrawal symptoms, both I and the apprentice chose pizzas – I played a straight bat and selected the traditional quattro stagioni (ham, chorizo, peppers and mushrooms), the apprentice upped the ante and selected a Scared Crow (chicken, onion, peppers and jalapenos). I tried a slice and he certainly got what he asked for, it’s a fiery little number. Mrs SD kept it traditional and chose their ‘famous’ lasagne.

They each cost £12, as most things on the menu seem to, although some are a little more or a little less.

The early bird gets the mushrooms, well he does if you call before 5pm, and we did.

Mrs SD chose the home-made lasagne and even though it was delicious struggled to finish the whole portion.
Mrs SD chose the home-made lasagne and even though it was delicious struggled to finish the whole portion.

They ask you to leave a message (just your name and number) they say that in return for helping the staff and keeping the chef calm you deserve a free portion of breaded mushrooms with a garlic dip to say thank you – a nice touch I thought.

Everything was beautifully cooked and my pizza tasted just as good as the days we had the privilege of being able to eat inside the pub, with a pint of real ale to accompany the meal – oh joy.

I probably should have paid more attention previously as, in all likelihood, they’ve always offered a takeaway service and I just wasn’t aware – but whatever the case, it’s a great service now and comes highly recommended.

The early bird gets the mushrooms, don’t miss out – make sure you call before 5pm.
The early bird gets the mushrooms, don’t miss out – make sure you call before 5pm.

FACTFILE

The Scared Crow, 79 Offham Road, West Malling ME19 6RB

Open six days a week 5.30-8.30 (Sunday 8pm). Closed Tuesdays.

Telephone 01732 840408 or go online at www.scaredcrow.co.uk/our-menu

Everything comes carefully, and individually, packaged, including the garlic bread.
Everything comes carefully, and individually, packaged, including the garlic bread.

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