South African Braai Menu at The Duck Inn, Pett Bottom

Okay so I know I’ve reviewed my current favourite pub – The Duck Inn at Pett Bottom near Canterbury – before, but there is something excellent going on there every sunny summer Saturday that I just have to tell you about: the barbecue menu. Dean, the chef owner originally hails from South Africa, and during the shutdown he finished building an outdoor kitchen from which he is currently dishing up a classic braai menu which, honestly, is one of the most exciting things I’ve eaten this summer.

However, we’re getting ahead of ourselves and with a good pub menu comes a lovely bottle of wine (they actually do a fantastic special English wine list, but actually at the moment I’m all over their excellent value Portuguese rose) and some of The Duck’s excellent starters. If you’re reading this now, as in the summer of 2021 their heirloom tomato, melon and burrata salad is beautiful at the moment: fresh, bright, balanced and just what you want to kick off with before embarking on a barbecue adventure. However, if you’re reading this at any other time there is usually always some sort of spring roll on the menu and it is always fantastic so order that: this one was pork served with shaved kohlrabi and a satay sauce and everyone who had it was very, very appreciative.

Moving onto the meat (though there is also a fish option) cooked over flames, I was sorely tempted by the Barnsley Lamb Chop, served with grilled courgettes and romesco sauce. The meat was incredibly succulent and flavourful (all coming from local sources) and the sauce was incredible, loaded with fresh veg in one of the best dishes I’ve sampled in a while: next time I go, I’m getting this. Also: my mother barely eats meat anymore and she practically demolished this.

However, for your first time, there really is only one option: Shisha Nyama. Translating from the South African as ‘meat and fire’, it is a little of everything and one of the best examples of meat cooked over fire I’ve ever had. You’ll get an incredibly succulent pork chop, deliciously spiced chicken and a homemade boerewors sausage, all drizzled with a sweet and savoury, very addictive sauce. Oh, and also with a delicious charred corn on the cob. I know it all looks and sounds a bit like gratuitous food porn, but it honestly actually did taste as good, if not better than it looks.

Oh, and in case all that meat is not enough the Shisha Nyama comes with a vibrant and light dressed salad, and The Duck Inn’s house potato salad which is lightened with creme fraiche and herbs making it not too much alongside that meat mountain.

You’d think after all that we’d not have space for pudding, and you’d be wrong. I ordered the strawberry and elderflower tartlet as my Mum said it was excellent and it truly, truly was, but to be honest it was totally eclipsed by J’s Flourless Chocolate Cake that I kept on stealing bites of across the table. Served with chocolate rubble, raspberries – both fresh and freeze dried – creme fraiche and honeycomb it was as delicious as it was stunning, and one of the best desserts I’ve had in a very long time. Exciting, bright and full of bold flavours this is the dessert you have to have at The Duck Inn.

Book now for a summer Saturday (we’ve not got many of them left) and pray for good weather (though it you turn up and have to eat the indoor menu instead I promise you that it won’t be a hardship, just look at those starters and puddings!) though with such an impressive outdoor kitchen setup, you just know that this fantastic outdoor dining venue is here to stay.