When looking for a convenient stopover for our Saturday lunchtime return to Dover this weekend, we just knew one thing: we wanted to go to a pub for some traditional food. Obviously it had to be on our route between London and the docks, but we decided to choose something quite close in case we relaxed a little too much. The Three Chimneys in Kent seemed to fit the bill. Between Maidstone and Ashford, it’s set in the heart of the countryside, and also offers the chance to detour through Pluckley, which is allegedly Britain’s most haunted village (for those of you that are so inclined, or just saw it on Top Gear).

This was another of those instances where we felt glad to have reserved, as the pub was bustling with diners by 1pm. However, we were offered a change of table, as we ended up sat next to a party that included two quite small children. While courteous, we rejected this offer – we like children and in any case these particular two were far better behaved than the party of boorish adult diners sat not too far from us. This anecdote may also provide peace of mind for any parents reading this: children are definitely welcome and are well-catered for, with the eldest of the two children being brought a dessert off-menu at the parents’ request.

The setting definitely delivers along the lines of traditional pub with a modern twist: beams, wooden stools, and wine label displays abound, while the adjoining conservatory allows daylight to flood in to help avoid that claustrophobic feeling. Dining is also available in the conservatory, so be sure to request this when you book should this appeal.

But what about the adult diners (namely, us)? While mistakes seem prevalent at this pub (two chocolate ice creams were brought to the kiddie table instead of one, and a diner at another table was brought lamb instead of duck), we did not experience any error or inconvenience and our lovely lunch went without a hitch. Service was friendly and, for us, generally efficient. I generally prefer desserts, so opted out of a starter, while my husband chose chicken and foie gras pâté, which came with salad, toast, and red onion chutney. This was brought with two plates and two sets of cutlery without us needing to ask, so I was able to sample a little bit, and can confirm that the pâté was creamy and light, rather than being too chunky and riddled with jelly. However, ‘light’ should not be taken to mean ‘bland’: instead, neither of us was left feeling bloated and unable to enjoy our main courses. The red onion chutney was also a star, being packed with natural colour and intensity, as well as having a jammy texture that contrasted and complemented the pâté well.

As for the main courses, these consisted of local sausages with cabbage, parsnips and mash, and duck served pink. You can order extra side dishes if necessary, but portions are already generous, so most people shouldn’t need to. While him indoors said that the duck could be pinker, I’d take this with a pinch of salt, as he’s French and would eat meat pretty much straight off the butcher’s counter if possible. All of the meat was tender and well-seasoned, and the mash had not a lump to be seen. The crisp vegetables were finished off with a rich gravy, which it would be criminal to waste. However, thanks to three sausages for me and all that mash and gravy, I was in the end too full for dessert. Looking at the dessert menu, though, it would seem that further traditional fare was available, such as treacle tart and fruit crumble, alongside more innovative stylings, including amaretto parfait. All that means is that a future return trip is necessary to make room for dessert!

We kept our drinks modest, sticking to just lemonade and sparkling water, and finishing off with coffee rather than dessert, which was of high quality and came served with a caramel biscuit each. The bill was good value, too, coming in at around £29 per person. You could easily spend more, however, and we will definitely be returning in order to do so.

Hareplain Road, Biddenden, Kent TN27 8LW

http://www.thethreechimneys.co.uk

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