One of the best things about living in my beloved Kent is the sheer amount of beautiful walks you can go on – up hills, through fields, along the coast, into woods and the list goes on. One of the other things is the amount of good pubs that accompany said walks and most of these pubs can be found to sell some pretty good food.
Circular walks are always the way to go in my book – I like knowing I’m going to end up right back where I started. There’s a great 4 mile circular walk in Shipbourne that takes you through some of Kent’s most lovely countryside and via Ightham Mote which is a great National Trust house. It also starts and ends with The Chaser Inn a fairly decent pub and the original property in the Whiting & Hammond pub chain.
It was with some trepidation we walked in to the very busy Chaser Inn on a Sunday at around 3pm with no booking. Luckily the very efficient and friendly front of house staff squeezed us onto a table they keep free for those who are silly enough not to book (thank you The Chaser for understanding some of us are disorganised messes). Someone came to take our drinks order straight away and this was a sign of the service throughout our meal – the staff there are very well trained and very friendly.
Menus at The Chaser and all of the W&H pubs change daily and of course it being a Sunday they had their full range of Sunday roasts. However, we were both grateful that they had plenty on offer besides the traditional Sunday dinner. Mr A ordered some halloumi sticks/fries to start followed by Fish and Chips and I opted for the vegetarian potato rosti dish.
Halloumi fries were, well halloumi fries. The latest fad in food in which you wonder why people are getting so excited about fried squeaky cheese. And I love cheese. But I am already sick of seeing halloumi fries on menus – it lacks imagination somewhat. If you want decent halloumi fries the best are at Gordons Wine bar in London and they were doing them long before they became so popular and they serve them with the most incredible aubergine dip. Anyway the Chaser’s halloumi fries were simply what they said – a few sticks of cooked halloumi that we paid a fiver for. Enough said.
Mains were much better. Mr A’s fish and chips were good. The fish was beer battered which I believe to be the best sort of batter for a large chunk of cod. The mushy peas had just the right hint of mint. Letting the dish down somewhat were the chips – apparently thrice cooked but as you can see from the picture they had definitely only seen the fryer once at most and were rather pale and soggy. I was however a complete sucker for the fact that on the menu they had where the fish was caught, the name of the fishing boats and the names of the captains of the ships. I love touches like that and I think it shows the correct responsibility about where you are sourcing your produce from.
My potato rosti was a golden starchy delight crunch on the outside and lovely and soft with specks of onion on the inside. It was topped with buttered spinach and more of the good old halloumi which was grilled this time. It came with roasted tomatoes on the side and a red pepper dressing which was deliciously smoky in taste and creamy in texture. It was a very well executed dish and my only complaint is that there wasn’t more it.
My meagre main course mean that I felt very justified in ordering a dessert. How could I not try The Chaser Inn’s “Signature” dessert, Chocolate Assiette – minus the strawberry gel because if there is one taste combination I hate it is strawberry and chocolate. The star of this was in my opinion the white chocolate panna cotta. Panna cotta’s are probably my favourite dessert and this one had just the slightest hint of white chocolate and vanilla which worked really well against the creamy, wobbly set milk. The dark chocolate cremoso and milk chocolate torte were also very good if not a bit too similar in texture for my liking.
So all in all we enjoyed our visit to The Chaser Inn, considering they are very large and very busy they are serving good food, not the best but it’s good. Our meal came to £53.27 which included 4 soft drinks and service which I don’t think is too bad. Whilst I wouldn’t seek it out to have dinner there I would happily go for lunch again after a rather delightful Kentish walk.
The Chaser Inn, Stumble Hill, Shipbourne