CoffeeBeer >> Pint Pleasures >> Previous Beer Columns >> Three North Downs Pubs

Previous Pint Pleasures - January 15, 2001

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Cat and Custard Pot, Paddlesworth Lane, Paddlesworth, Kent

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Tiger Inn, Main Street, Stowting, Kent

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Botolphs Bridge Inn, Lower Wall Road, West Hythe, Kent

The holidays have slowed down as well as my travels, so it's a good time to mention a few more pubs in East Kent. In the North Downs, north of Folkestone and Hythe, there are many village pubs, several which I've previously reviewed. I'll continue with three more:

The Cat and Custard Pot is located just up the road from Hawkinge at a rustic woody crossroads. Once you enter this little pub you'll find it much bigger inside than it appears on the outside. And my fellow felinophiles will find no pictures of kitties in idyllic poses on the walls; instead the decor is World War II RAF posters. This may seem a bit bewildering for a pub named after furry animals and crockery; but I'm sure it's directly related to the fact that the Battle of Britain Museum is just down the road.

On the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon we stopped in there was a mixed crowd, young and old, and the food smelled quite tasty. Our pints of Master Brew (3.7%, Shepherd Neame, Faversham, Kent) were decent and quite physically attractive as well. I was momentarily distracted from my pint by an older American man dressed in camouflage who entered, ordered a pint, and immediately pulled out his mobile phone. Who was he calling -- his commanding officer? Did I hear strafing outside, or was it just a catfight? Perhaps a dogfight? No, probably only the seagulls and pigeons on the roof...

One thing I did notice about the Cat's lunches is that every meal is served with a basket of French bread -- a very nice touch in an English pub.

Over in Stowting is the Tiger Inn, a free house known mostly for its food but which also features five real ales. On our visit we had pints of London Pride (4.1% ABV, Fuller, Smith and Turner, London) which tasted lush, like the countryside outside on this particularly wet May afternoon. The Tiger's food is quite expensive, though: a simple cheese and onion half baguette was £4.35! But the menu is intriguing, featuring pastas, meats, seafood, vegetarian entrees, fancy salads, and elegant-looking desserts, with a full wine list to complement. There is a quiet garden out front and an impressive reference section in evidence over the fireplace. Live jazz is featured on Monday nights. Yes, the Tiger Inn is very comfortable, spotless, and well-kept, and it even has its own "Tiger Inn" ashtrays. You can definitely feel the money in this place. As far as food goes we overheard one diner say, "It's nice to find good English food. It's a bit expensive, but Christ, compare this to Harvester Restaurants!" Enough said?

As to the seating I noticed pillows tucked behind the benches, not on them for the customers. Is this such an opulent pub that the benches have their own comfy pillows to rest against? No wonder they look so happy.

Westward toward West Hythe (located, surprisingly enough, west of Hythe) on the edge of the Romney Marsh is the Botolphs Bridge Inn. Although located in a pleasant country setting this Pubmasters pub is fairly typical for a pub. They offer Wadworth 6X on the hand pump along with several tap & spile selections. We'd stopped in to try the Old Speckled Hen but it was off, so we settled for pints of Greene King IPA (3.6% ABV, Greene King, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk). This was a drinkable pint for the day but nothing to write home about. Basically people seem to come here for the lunches -- in fact the pub is officially recommended by the British Cheese Board.

The decor of Botolphs Bridge is a bit deceiving, featuring beamed ceilings but signs of extensive remodelling. Although there's been a pub on this sight for hundreds of years the original buildings collapsed in a state of disrepair, and the current structures are fairly recent. There is a large collection of horse brasses and plaques above the fireplace. One plaque I noticed would be fun to wear as a man's belt buckle, reading "This erection is temporary -- please advise by demolishing".

Botolphs Bridge Inn was apparently named after the hermit St. Botolph who lived in the 7th century. But he lived nowhere remotely close to Kent, so I'm not quite sure what the connection is...