The Grove Ferry Riverside Pub & Inn ~ Upstreet, Kent
On Sunday, we decided to head down into Kent in search of a different walk for the dogs. With the added incentive of a dog friendly riverside pub lunch after for us!
It was a lovely, sunny day (we haven’t seen sun enough this summer) so a trip out of London into the countryside was just what we needed.
The Garden of England
The Grove Ferry, is about 7 miles from Canterbury, deep in The Garden of England (as Kent is fondly known). The 18th century mansion house is set on the banks of the Little Stour River and opposite the natural wetlands of Stodmarsh Nature Reserve, a World Heritage Site.
We decided to have a wander along the river, which was a hive of activity. Boats passing through or mooring up; serious canoeists paddling alongside families in kayak’s, enjoying a peaceful, leisurely meander down the river.
Once we’d all worked up a thirst, we headed back to the pub.
We parked in the The Grove Ferry car park (which is free for patrons) but it’s not a big car park and by the time we left, it was jammed full! There is a public car park as well, just next to The Grove Ferry, but there is a fee to park here.
If you are looking for a small, quiet, cosy country pub, then The Grove Ferry is not for you (well it wasn’t on a sunny Sunday lunch time!). There’s a lot going on at this pub and it really caters for everyone. Dog owners are very welcome, as well as families and large groups.
It has a large garden with plenty of tables, an outside bar (in the summer), water bowls for the dogs, but more surprisingly chickens and some very large resident pigs!
There’s also a fabulous decked area overlooking the river where you can sit and watch the world go by, beside some beautiful weeping willow trees, who doesn’t love a weeping willow?
You can also stay at here, they have six ‘cosy, en suite bedrooms’ (which we didn’t see) and a boathouse you can hire for a party.
It was early when we arrived (around 12 o’clock) and not too busy at this point. We were welcomed by some friendly staff and shown to our table (we opted for an inside table).
The menu is big (literally!) there is plenty to choose including British style tapas, sharing platters, starters, mains and desserts! What is great is each meal description is clearly labelled for dietary requirements, including gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan.
Whilst the dogs settled down with a doggie biscuit treat from the manager (who kindly asked if the dogs were allowed a treat), we decided on what we would order.
What We Chose
Hubby went for Chilli Popcorn Squid (for starters), followed by Baby Back Pork Ribs as his mains. I ordered Halloumi Fries for starters and Seabass en Papilotte as my mains.
We didn’t have to wait long for our starters to arrive and I have to say, we were both immediately disappointed. Although their website says that the food is freshly prepared on site, it really didn’t feel, or look, like this was freshly prepared food.
The Chilli Popcorn Squid, was not fresh and nor was it ‘popcorn’ style but rather anaemic looking squid rings. My halloumi fries appeared to have been re-fried (or over cooked).
However, it didn’t taste bad, just didn’t have that freshly cooked feel at all. For me, when the starters are not great, it puts a bit of a dampener on the rest of the meal, as I wonder what the main course will be like.
We Didn’t Have To Wait Long…
Hubby’s baby back pork ribs with chips and ‘slaw was a big portion of ribs, which did fall off the bone and Hubby said, they tasted good, although it could have done with some more sticky sauce to pour over the ribs. To me, the ribs looked a bit dried out, not glossy and sticky as you would expect.
My seabass was cooked well, apart from a load of chopped chillies over the top (I’m not sure chillies and fish go together as the chilli tends to overpower the delicate fish flavour). The vegetables, that the fish it was sitting on were not great, the broccoli had that ‘greyish green’ colour and the salad it came with was a very odd combination of blackberries, beetroot, pomegranate seeds and stilton cheese! I tried it but it really wasn’t for me.
We both ordered pudding, I went for the Bad Brownie with vanilla seed ice cream and Hubby chose the Sticky Toffee Pudding.
Hubby didn’t enjoy his Sticky Toffee pudding so much, he said it didn’t taste good and the sponge was very heavy.
To me, it felt like the fresh food had been pre-cooked, and then reheated as each order came in, or maybe there is just too much choice on the menu.
However, the staff were very friendly, great with the dogs and frequently checked whether we needed more drinks or anything else with our meal.
So, it wasn’t a complete disaster, the food wasn’t awful, we ate most of it, just wasn’t as delicious as we were expecting.
The garden and riverside decking are lovely spots to watch the world go by, followed by a countryside walk in The Garden of Kent.