Published: 11:30, 19 July 2019
Heading along the main road there’s a danger you might not give the Ship Inn at Ospringe a second glance – which is very nearly what I did on my way to an afternoon meeting in this neck of the woods. And, if you did pass by without calling in then it would be a great pity as you’d be missing a gem.
My plan was to lunch in Faversham, but timings, and a quirk of fate, meant I swerved the town and headed down the A2 instead.
Which is how I found myself sitting in arguably Kent’s best pub garden sampling what was, undeniably, the best salad ever served with a meal in a Kent pub.
Once off the main road the side entrance to this little beauty does give you an inkling it might be a bit special – but no matter how spectacular the hanging baskets are they pale by comparison to the welcome and service you’ll receive from barmaid Kate.
Pink haired with a tattoo on the back of her neck, which I couldn’t quite make out, she’s been a loyal servant here for a dozen years – quite an endorsement.
And, given John the landlord was asleep in his ‘private garden’ for the duration of my entire visit, it looks as if she pretty much runs the place single-handed.
This may not be entirely fair as I have no idea who looks after the garden or what else John does, but more about him later.
For now, with a pint of 3.7% Golden Braid in my hand, I headed into the oasis that has been crowned First in Faversham in Bloom on at least one occasion (There’s a certificate on the wall to prove it).
The jewel in the crown, the garden is immaculate and the perfect setting for the quite excellent pub grub you will receive.
I went basic with a jacket spud, complete with chips and salad. But it’s all about the presentation, the quality of the food and the service, each was spot on.
My SD accomplice for the day chose a cheese and red onion baguette with a side of chips and declared it an equal winner.
Music is pumped direct to the garden and at first I wasn’t sure if this was a plus or a minus, but again they got the level just right and it was great background music: Bryan Ferry - Let’s Stick Together; Hot Chocolate - It Started With a Kiss; Wet Wet Wet’s classic Sweet Little Mystery.
The nearby nesting sparrows were occasionally noisier than the tunes, but it just adds to the atmosphere and the feeling you’re at one with nature.
Although, when Elton Towers plays outside at 3pm on Sunday August 18 I assume he’ll manage to drown them out. Great to see live music in pubs and they even made it clear he’s a tribute act!
So, what can I tell you about the main man John? Well, not too much, apart from – the tributes to Bobby Moore and Martin Peters, not to mention the Upton Park E13 sign, tell me he’s a Hammer and, as Kate says, you’ll usually find him asleep in his private garden a lot.
I did peek round the corner but he was stretched out sunbathing in shorts enjoying pleasant dreams so I didn’t disturb him to tell him what a great pub he has.
To conclude, there’s ample parking at the back, there’s a step down into the well-maintained gents to avoid, the cast iron garden furniture is darned heavy and, finally, a big thanks to Neil the local who kindly dashed out the bar to return my credit card before I left.
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