The Stables, West Herrington

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WITH the authentic, cosy and warm feel of a country pub, The Stables is an atmospheric delight. It is therefore no surprise that Sunday reservations are considered gold dust.

Upon entering the pub through its large wooden door, I was presented with a feast for the eyes before one for the stomach.

The entire room is adorned with tit-bits, tools and trinkets from the last century. A tiny cross-section would include horse-shoes, bridles, tin and copper mugs, giant wooden boat oars, medallions, old cameras, trumpets, ancient golf clubs and a stag’s head.

My girlfriend, Charlotte, and I were seated at a central table, which I was pleased about because I could continue to gaze around at the myriad of items.

It seems to be a random collection but it all contributes to the historical feel of the pub, together with plenty of visible brickwork, thick wooden roof-beams and an enormous fire that heated the whole pub after only a couple of minutes use.

We chose from a decent selection of drinks which, on average, was actually cheap. A bottle of lager or Corona is about £2.30, with a pint of lager sitting below the well-publicised national average of £3 at £2.70. A single vodka and mixer costs £2.10 and a double is £3.60. A medium glass of wine averages at £2.20 and a pint of Black Sheep costs £2.60.

The Sunday menu is priced per course. One course is £8.95, two is £10.95 and three is £12.95. There is a nice selection of starters, from which I chose chicken liver pate with chutney. The pate was silky smooth and the chutney (so often the let down with pate dishes) complemented it brilliantly. It wasn’t too fruity or acidy – just right.

The mains are the traditional Sunday roasts: turkey, beef, lamb and pork – with a vegetarian sausage option. I went for the lamb and Charlotte chose the beef. Both meats were sliced thinly but retained their juiciness and flavour.

They came with a generous helping of vegetables, including roast potatoes and mushy peas. We were also given a huge gravy boat to pour ourselves – something I always enjoy as I have a tendency to eat my vegetables completely drenched in gravy.

The all-important Yorkshire pudding was also very nice. Crispy around the edges and soggy at the base, it ticked all the boxes.

There are a number of desserts to choose from including chocolate fudge cake and banoffee pie, although I insisted on wasting none of the freshly steamed vegetables and hence couldn’t manage another course.

The service was good, and all the bar staff were extremely friendly and welcoming.

It is a popular pub with an obvious set of regulars, but the staff made us feel more than welcome.

I have also eaten from the week-time menu before and would highly recommend one of their selection of burgers which are as filling as they are tasty.

An essential visit for any fans of country pubs, The Stables is a brilliant little place that welcomes families during the day and even allows well-behaved dogs into the bar area.

Unfortunately, they cannot offer food past 3pm out of respect for adjoining neighbours. Nevertheless, I will, undoubtedly, be going again.

Adam Brown