I was recently out and about meeting clients in the day job. The main idea was going to be a curry, but in the middle of rural Kent, that’s a tall ask. Instead, we ended up in Woodchurch, a small village a few miles outside Ashford, where there are two adjacent pubs.
The story goes that brothers owned and ran one, but resided in the house next door. They fell out and one converted the house into his own pub, hence there are two adjacent. The “newer” one is now run by Shepherd Neame, who make great beer, but I have rarely been inside one of their pubs that I liked in terms of decor etc. No matter, because we were going to the older, The Six Bells.
This is a proper old school rural local; open fire, wood floors, local bar flies. It certainly isn’t decorated up to the standard of a London gastropub, but that’s part of the charm. They are in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, and with good reason; it’s a free house with a good selection of well kept ales served in a choice of a traditional or a straight glass and attentive friendly service.
The menu is broad, with many pub classics, many homemade. I was still perusing the handwritten specials (the mark of a good place in my opinion) when the waitress asked for the order…… my two colleagues had made their choices, so I accelerated my decision making – only then did I discover the main menu was double sided. I am clearly the waitresses worst nightmare in this scenario, but the first line was “Inferno Burger”. I inquired as to what this is and was immediately sold. Homemade burger patty, with chillies in the burger itself, served with chopped jalapenos and a spicy sauce. Also, bacon, cheese and onion rings for £9.95 with chips on the side..
Having been defrauded of a curry, this seemed like a perfect settlement and it was huge. Half the chips were left (which means I think I still ate a standard portion) along with half the burger bap (there was no way you could hold it and eat it, so had to be knifed and forked). A sign of a good burger, such as this, is that a shortened bamboo skewer had to be used to hold it together instead of a cocktail stick of a sub-sandwich stick.
With three pints of well kept Old Hooky to wash it down, this was a truly solid local independent pub experience and the people of Woodchurch are lucky to have such an establishment at the heart of their village.