Places To Eat In Kent: The Tiger Inn, Stowting

I’ve not really written about it on here, but I’ve been complaining to those around me for a while about the lack of good British country pubs out there anymore. I don’t mean fine dining Gastropubs – we’re incredibly lucky to have some fantastic examples here in East Kent such as The Compasses Inn, The Duck Inn, even The Sportsman is technically till a pub rather than a restaurant. But, mostly, it is either those or places that are good for drinking or all the food comes in wholesale – there is nothing wrong with that, but it is not something I personally really enjoy.

The pubs I’m talking about are the ones that are chilled out and casual, where you can happily just go for a drink, but also do good, homemade food, done without fuss you can just go and eat at when you can’t be bothered to cook at the end of a long day, or where you want to go for a casual Sunday roast after a long walk and that you don’t need to get dressed up for. I have reviewed a few on here, but on return visits they’ve been a bit spotty. Or their menus have gone a bit odd with nothing on them you actually want to eat. The last truly excellent one I remember visiting outside of London was The Mariners in Rock, but I live in Kent, not Cornwall.

On Saturday we found exactly what we were looking for, and it was absolutely by accident.

First, I want to send my love and best wishes to all the fantastic eateries around the Canterbury bit of East Kent who had their weekend lunch and dinner services cancelled by a burst water main. This left us in a bit of pickle, arriving somewhere to eat, discovering there was no food, and then ringing around places to find out it they even had running water or not. Happily, someone at the bar mentioned that The Tiger Inn in Stowting – quite near my parents house which was helpful – had just re-opened with new owners and with a new food focus after a massive refurbishment, and we managed to snag an early evening table.

As I mentioned, while they now do excellent food, The Tiger Inn is still somewhere you can go get a drink. A while section in the bar is never booked out and reserved for it you just fancy a drink, and there is a good, but not overwhelming selection of wines (some local) and beers available by the glass or the bottle – while we’ll try out some of the wines by the glass on return visits, as we wanted a known quantity ordering a bottle for the table, I was really happy to see Whispering Angel rose on the menu which is always a good shout.

Additionally, the service was excellent, the atmosphere fantastic and I really want to visit again before the summer is over when the weather is right to sit on their beautiful terrace; literally my only complaint which, as you can see from these slightly odd coloured food pictures there were spotlights on all the tables, and for a pub that was not that dark, it seemed a bit bright and unnecessary – I also think they may make the pub less cosy come winter.

The summer menu is about 50/50 seasonal eats and British pub classics. From the seasonal section I want to tell you I wish I’d ordered the aubergine fritters with minted courgette pesto, wild garlic and capers. Not fatty at all, just crisp and full of wonderful fresh summer flavours. That is not to say my tomato gazpacho with a black olive tapenade bruschetta was not also very tasty (literally my only qualm is it could have done with a splash of vinegar to lift it a little); its just that out of a dinner where everything was delicious everyone else seemed to order better than me!

On the classics side of the table I will be ordering both on a later visit. The prawn cocktail was exactly what you’d want, generous and full of flavour, and without any of the annoying ‘why is this in my prawn cocktail?’ add in’s that have annoyed me elsewhere. The pork and nduja scotch egg with sundried tomato ketchup was perfectly cooked and very, very tasty.

Moving onto our mains, again we ordered from across a typical pub menu spectrum and all very much enjoyed our food. While my rolled lamb breast with apricot ands lemon thyme stuffing, fondant potato, swiss chard and lamb jus was faultless, I was still very jealous of J’s half a corn fed chicken with a truffle honey glaze, grilled corn salsa, polenta chips and beer braised shallots. The perfect showstopper for a summer evening with fresh, bold flavours, incredibly juicy and tender meat and a plate sauce that was to die for.

If we had not been out for pasta the night before I would have ordered the crab and prawn linguini served with fresh chilli and a shellfish bisque, and it was exactly what you’d want; I’ve been saying it for ages but every good casual food pub needs a seafood pasta on their menu. This was perfectly al dente with a rich sauce and a generous amount of seafood; my mother has always eaten small portions and I happily finished some of this off for her after I was done with my lamb.

My Dad had the burger, which, I’m going to again have to order again in future. Generously served with lots of chips and coleslaw it was a lovely homemade rump steak burger, flame grilled, and still pink in the middle: exactly what you want from a good pub burger.

Our puddings, again, were excellent. The fresh local strawberry pavlova was beautifully presented and lightened with chantilly cream, and the vanilla creme brûlée was a great, classic example that had not been messed around with. But the passion fruit panna cotta – again beautifully presented – was where the party was really at. Served with shards of white chocolate, a hint of lime and a delectable chocolate cookie crumble it really was excellent – honestly, I think it is up there with the creme brûlée with poached rhubarb at The Woolpack in Warehorne as the best Kentish pub dessert out there right now.

Do go book at table at The Tiger Inn before everyone else gets in on the game, I for one am already looking for a free Sunday when I can head over there and try out their roast!