Reviewed: The Dove at Dargate
PUBLISHED: 07:01 11 September 2014 | UPDATED: 07:01 11 September 2014
Manu Palomeque 07977074797
This Shepherd Neame gem in the Dargate countryside with a pretty rear garden, cosy bars and great grub is well worth seeking out
Sometimes everything is so right about a place you want to do a little jig of joy. The Dove at Dargate, on the edge of the ancient Blean woods, is just such a gem. Or should that be plum – with an address like Plumpudding Lane, your mouth is watering before you arrive.
You can eat in one of the cosy rustic bars or out in the pretty rear garden where the bat and trap team plays during the summer.
The building dates back to the 18th century and was owned by one family from 1835 to 1895. Landlords Chris and Dee Johnson, who took over last November, aren’t sure they’ll manage 60 years, but it’s definitely a family affair, with young son Benjamin, 26, heading up the kitchen team.
Chris is particularly proud of his new rustic outside bar, held up by hope poles; its the creation of talented local artist and furniture designer Jeremy Hagues.
The bar has its own menu of classics with a twist – the Dove burger comes with smoked Ashmore bacon, red onion jam and home-made ketchup sauce – but My Dining Chum and I opted for the main menu.
As it was such glorious weather, we headed straight for the garden and the shade of a large patio umbrella. And what a choice we had for our lunch: my beetroot carpaccio with pickled baby beetroot, stalk intact, glazed goat’s cheese and micro herbs was quite simply summer on a plate, while MDC’s chicken liver parfait (the livers bought locally that day) was rich and creamy and accompanied by crunchy, home-made sourdough Melba toast.
To follow I enjoyed beautifully cooked and presented grey mullet with wilted rocket and cubes of chorizo making a lovely contrast with the light fish (Chris was delighted I ate the lot, crispy skin and all).
MDC had a generous bowl of mushroom risotto, which she found a little salty but loved the flavoursome wild mushrooms.
Our puddings were light and suitably summery – a very refreshing lemon posset and a crème brûlée with a lovely and very unusual hint of orange and cardamon.
The Dove welcomes walkers, families and dogs – and now music lovers; a new addition is a small stage where live music is played on the last Friday of the month.
Chris and Dee have turned one of the original gastropubs back into a ‘proper’ pub where you are just as welcome for a pint as a full meal. “The drinkers had all gone but they’ve have started to come back,” says Chris. The punters seem pretty happy too.
TV chef Greg Wallace, a local fan, wasn’t there that day but Pat and Keith Lane from Whitstable were and they should know – they’ve been regulars for 47 years, after all.
“It’s come on in leaps and bounds with Chris and Dee,” said Keith. “We love it here.” Can’t say fairer than that. n