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BITE user comments - Sessionmaster

Comments by Sessionmaster

The Old House, Ightham

Have not been back for maybe half a year for a multitude of reasons.CAMRA trips are not to be missed and when the OLd House is the venue, it becomes an event.

My return was welcomed like the return of a prodigal son and was immediately into conversation with a lovely labrador owner who clearly knew everyone. Being introduced to people, having educated discourse on wherever the conversation may lead....this truly is an English trait that may only survive in this antiquated gem. Dogs in the bar, lots of free nibbles and wit.

The Landlord Nick and his regulars are both informed and informative about what really matters. Beer!
Where else can you converse with drinkers about the differing bittering and aromatic properties of Cascade, Crystal, Kent Goldings and Fuggles hops and actually have someone who knows their relative alpha acid levels and actually blind tasted a beer and guessed correctly the hop varieties used. Yes Jarl does taste like grapefruit and now after 45 years drinking real ale I know why !

Beer served in quarts, if you have you own a glass safely stored behind the bar. Clive, you are a gentleman for even allowing me to try your ale bucket. My heart went out to the big Yorkshireman whose lead crystal jug had met with an unfortunate end. But he laughed it off made a quip or three and then bought us all a round. I am now as a result convinced that all beer produced in Lancashire is unfit for human consumption unless it uses water from the river Ribble which starts in "Gods Own land". This pub even tolerates lager drinkers provided they remain subdued, it was a pleasure to meet you "Pickle" and I admire you for sticking to your pleasures against the prevailing "religious" system espoused with such passion and conviction.

The Old House is the complete package. Fantastic beer, amazing educated, fun loving and eccentric conversationalists and a totally charming time capsule of a building. The loss of the empire can only be attributed to the demise of such institutions. I even agreed that we should invade "occupied lower Kent" , thats France to most of us, purely on the basis that harrying the French is a traditional summer pastime and we could get back to the Old House for the evening session.

No need to ask who gets my vote for Pub of the year.

23 Jul 2013 13:39

The Golding Hop, Plaxtol

There is nothing finer than real cider during the heatwave, other than two pints of house rough and a veggie burger.

There is so much nonsense talked about Ed. He is a mans man and tells it as it is. If you dont like it just grow some balls or go somewhere else. He has never ben anything other than concise and charming to me and Sonja is a doll.

This togehter with the Old House and the Halfway house in Brenchley and "Elsies" are the finest pubs in this thriding of Kent. We are blessed to have two of them within walking distance from The Plough in Ivy hatch, which is a pub you naturally walk away from or walk out of for those inexperienced enough to venture in.

23 Jul 2013 12:34

The George and Dragon, Ightham

The building beckons you, a small central village location and leaded windows. At a glance you expect this to be a hostelry of merit.

Appearances are however highly deceptive. I have not been back since they tried to charge me £10 for a few paltry slices of pork and coleslaw under the guise of it being a village fete and hog roast.

This time I decided to venture in for saturday lunch. This could be a central London "plastic pub" with its extensive wine list and pretentious menu. However although it may aspire to be everything I despise it fails in that too for in the City atleats they have a decent choice of real ales. This is a lager palace for anyone who has lost their tastebuds and had a lobotomy.

Thus I walked up the Tonbridge road and went to the ever reliable Golding Hop.

23 Jul 2013 12:24

The Padwell Arms, Seal

Thought Id give it one last chance.
Realised it has had too many last chances already

Awful, simply awful. Should be closed down , filthy disgrace to all those who try to run proper establishments.

11 Oct 2012 08:59

The Old House, Ightham

Staid stolid traditional and utterly sublime.

They have lapsed into the murky world of selling lager. Luckily the word has not got out as there were no visible signs of peasantry. Dog lovers, beer lovers and conversationalists. Hunting , right wing politics and cricket. No sign of a TV with the latest turgid instalment of "premiership" United versus City.

A true gem. 11/10

7 Sep 2012 18:27

The Harrow Inn, Ightham Common

More of a restaurant these days but the food was very good indeed. I had the home made pate and the lamb. Slightly on the pricey side but way better than the Plough with its pretension of being a one stop shop, and provide poor food and awfully over priced beer.

Shrimpers is a regular at the Old House and to be frank I would not even consider putting it on. It iS woeful. My suggestion would be to eat here then go to the Old House if you want beer. They have the best selection of ales in the area but no food.

20 Aug 2012 13:42

The Kentish Rifleman, Dunks Green

Second stop over on the Saturday jaunt in the heat.

The beer is a little on the expensive side but I enjoyed an rely evening dinner in the sunshine and would not hesitate to return. This place has come along leaps and bounds !

20 Aug 2012 13:29

Papermakers Arms, Plaxtol

Great transformation ! Almost startling .

Its back on my list. The food and beer were lovely and its a great stop over on a ramble.

20 Aug 2012 13:24

The Padwell Arms, Seal

What a shame.

Not been in since April with annual leave, jubilees and everything of late. The incomparable Maria has left. I heard that Jane had asked her to break the lease as the pub jane was running in Yorkshire was in receivership and that jane and partner ( it is not Doug now , that is a lucky escape) had nowhere to go.

From what I know Maria made the tough decision and the wrong one from the consumers perspective.

Gone are most of the real ales, gone is the great menu and gone are the clientele. This could and should have been one of the must do pubs / eateries. You cabinet even get in the restaurant now, its full of junk.

19 Jun 2012 19:24

Black Boy, Sevenoaks

If you are in Sevenoaks and want a beer try the local JD Spoons outlet , it is much cheaper. If you want a half decent Lunch with a pint then this is the best choice. I almost choked at the price but the service and quality is beyond reproach.

11 Jan 2012 20:59

The Bucks Head, Godden Green

Mr Miles is a tad harsh.I had a lovely lunch up there today a couple of Tonbridge Ales. Lovely sunny day and a super location. The sandwich was lovely and crusty and a decent side salad.

More importantly the beer was as clear as a bell and in tip top condition. Not seen the Rustic too often but its worth a quaff or two anytime.

11 Jan 2012 20:53

The Black Horse and Hoodens, Borough Green

Blimey, what a superb ale selection ! the landlady is a real charmer, if she really used to be a "madam" she can walk over me in high heels anytime she likes !

The beer was as bright as a penny, I loved the Old dairy and the pub was spotless ! Simple fare but good value for money and very well cooked and presented. Just what a pub should be.

Pleasing also to see that lager drinkers can behave themselves when the threat of being whipped is forever a latent one.

Loved it !

10 Jan 2012 08:11

Queens Arms, Edenbridge

Went in September and again on 4th December. This is iconic. You walk in and are transported back fifty years and more. Ilove the unusual, the darts scoring aparatus, the quiet side room with tables arranged around the outside of the room.....NO Lager Sold Here

I could go on.


15 Dec 2011 18:02

The Padwell Arms, Seal

Mr Alegobbler,

I actually had a phone call from another regular to advise that you are persisting with this tirade.

As I am nearing retirement I have a lot of time for pub lunches. This just HAPPENS TO BE MY LOCAL.

I have no particular axe to grind, unlike your good self who only has time to pour scorn and vitriol on this fine establishment and yet not comment on any others. It strikes me that it is you that has the personal interest. When I have a complaint I tell the I did at the Kentish Rifleman.

If you don't like this place and you are entitled to your opinion I can suggest you try the (Golding ) Hop or the Old House , they are amongst my favorites and may be more to your liking. The Bell at Kemsing is also an excellent pub.The food at the George and Dragon Chipstead ( call it what you like) is excellent too. Try to find one you like rather than moan endlessly about those you do not, sorry the one pub that you do not.

Enjoy your Beer

15 Dec 2011 16:32

Sennockian, Sevenoaks

Very cheap pint of beer. That must be commended.
You dont go into a Wetherspoons to eat just phone up Brakes brothers and order directly.
A slightly more civilised crowd than you average member of this chain.

It is what it is. No complaints from me and I do pop in when shopping for a swift half, makes it all the more tolerable.

15 Dec 2011 13:05

The Swan on the Green, West Peckham

Superb location. I tried three of the own brand ales and was not blown away by any of them. The cygnet was pretty poor but the Bewick was a good pint but not startling 5/10

Beautiful interior, comfortable and welcoming. 9/10 for that.
Food , fabulous. Even the most pernickety of eaters could not quibble. 10/10

8/10 overall.

15 Dec 2011 12:59

The New Inn, Sevenoaks

I had a lunchtime pint in here and unfortunately nothing out of the ordinary happened. Very disappointing. Just lots of chaps enjoying a pint or three and cheese rolls. It is what it is and if nothing else it is busy. So much for reading review sites.

15 Dec 2011 08:56

The Bell, Kemsing

Some people are very hard to please. This is a great little pub. The beer is fine though it is an uninspired selection and the food is worthy of the trip alone. Warm and welcoming.

15 Dec 2011 08:32

The Padwell Arms, Seal

Mummers plays and a Hooden Horse, thats all too Gastro for me.

So is wassailing and winter beer festivals ( second weekend in january) , and they are even planning a traditional sports olympiad and St Georges Day, Diamond Jubilee celebration and so on. They even have a darts team that is winning matches. Oh dear.

Traditional country pursuits, folk music, resurrecting local customs, Im amazed that they are doing this, you get the same in every Gordon Ramsay outlet nationwide.

Definitely gone all gastro.

15 Dec 2011 08:19

The Bull Hotel, Wrotham

Was very quiet but it was a wednesday lunchtime. Hophead superb and butties were well presented and value for money. The refurb looks good and I hope this place carries on improving, good to see that it is back on it's feet and that someone cares.

15 Dec 2011 07:59

The Golding Hop, Plaxtol

In popped in today for pint of rough and a plate of toasties

A lovely cold day, stoves were glowing and so was I when I walked home. This place should be preserved for evermore. Im worried what will happen when Ed and Sonja decide to retire.....any change would be for the worse. perfect 10/10

5 Dec 2011 19:45

The White Rock, Underriver

Lovely beer, good food, perfectly acceptable on every level.

4 Dec 2011 21:30

The White Hart, Sevenoaks

Perfectly fine and respectable establishment.
Nice pint

4 Dec 2011 21:28

The Padwell Arms, Seal

Thank you for your extended comments Mr Alegobler.

Im a regular at the Padwell now and have joined their friends scheme. I concur, maria is immensely popular with customers and she is doing an amazing job, bringing it back from the dead.

Just to be sure of my facts I have just driven down to the Padwell and obtained a menu for Lunch today and this evening. I will be glad to email them to you

Yes it does contain some fancy food. Venison Filets in rich wine gravy for example. But it also has, Steak and Ale pie, battered haddock, cheese ploughmans and other standards. I like the fact that sandwiches are on the lunch menu too. Also to be fair I note that each menu has todays date on. I was told by the Barmaid ( Louise ??) that the menu changes every day , so admittedly I have not seen all of them, only a few recently.

I quizzed Maria, and she says that lunches will always have some standards on the menu but in the evening there will be fewer as people are looking for a little more than shepherds pie. There is a "Trio of sausages with mustard mash" ( Thats bangers and mash to me) and "Braised steak and onions: on this evening in addition to "poached salmon with a white wine and dill sauce". So this holds up Maria's assertion that in the evening it is a little out of the ordinary but not so perverse as to require an A level in Domestic Science to understand it.

Anyway I have booked for four of us for dinner. I will report back.

I think it only fair to the Lady of the house that grievances are expressed to her directly rather than by anonymous postings on review sites. I complained about one aspect of the beers and it was changed, she did introduce a dark or black beer to keep many of us quiet and it sells well.

Im not going to be anything other than supportive, before she arrived it was a dump with no customers. Her efforts have to be admired. I remember when the Snail was a pub and the Plough was a pub, at least this still is a pub with a thriving dining room on the back instead of a blue/green fish tank.

If selling better quality food and different food daily is what it takes for the place to thrive again and to maintain it's very reasonable beer prices Im all in favour of that so long as the bar does not get swallowed up by a dining room extension......which Im assured will not be happening.

Putting food aside I had a half of the Cobnut bitter. Never seen it before, but rather good.

I live but 270 yards from the Padwell, an easy walk. I used to have to go to the Old House for a decent pint and to have the Village Pub back at the heart of the community is for us locals a wonderful thing. It has not been this good since Patsy and Bridey had it ten years ago, and they used to sell all manner of dishes, the game terrine that patsy did was legendary ( thats potted meat to me too !)

Im the wrong side of 60 now and I dare say that I will be retiring in the same village. I have seen this pub change so many times, ownership, style and so on. I remember it almost 40 years ago when the only food was cheese sandwiches or pickled eggs. We loved it back then. Beer sales have been declining for years and proprietors have had to provide better food where possible. The Pad when maria arrived already had the dining room built and with rates and everything else still to be paid I can only admire her efforts to fill it.

If you want a stolid traditional pub look no further than the Old House at Ightham or the Golding Hop. The former sells nothing but beer, great beer but more expensive than the Padwell now , but no food. The "Hop" has superb cider and great beer and super basket meals and my favourite ham eggs and the best chips in Britain. My only issue with either is that I cannot walk back along unlit lanes at night. Neither has a dining room attached.

PS I'm not in PR. I am a hospital administrator (non striking) and past my sell by date.

I would welcome the opportunity to buy you a pint at the Padwell some day. just ask for "Johnny "


2 Dec 2011 18:16

The Padwell Arms, Seal

Gone all gastro ? Tu geste.

If Ploughmans , steak and Ale Pie and Bubble and Squeak is gastro food , then Ill avoid "proper pubs".
Furthermore I went back in last night for a beer. They has Cobnut, Skrimshander, Hobgoblin, Larkins, Hogs Back, Chestnut stout on and if you looked up above the bar five different ales in the cellar ready to go on !

I admit the restaurant at the back , which has been there for many years, does look like a restaurant now but if the money that Maria generates from that means that I can have traditional pub lunch and a fantastic array of beers to choose from Ill keep on supporting it.

I met sixCAMRA members yesterday who raved about the changes that have been made.

Clearly Maria you cannot please everyone and personally I dont think you should bother. keep up the excellent work !

1 Dec 2011 08:49

The Kentish Rifleman, Dunks Green

I came , I tasted and I left for the Padwell.

26 Nov 2011 17:36

The Padwell Arms, Seal

Went to the Plough at Ivy hatch by mistake. Soon rectified.

Herve , thank you for a fantastic lunch , we all enjoyed it and it was excellent value for money.
Keep up the excellent work

26 Nov 2011 17:31

The Padwell Arms, Seal

I agree that it still looks a little tired in the bar area, but you should have seen it before ! The outside has been totally repainted for the first time in a decade, the restaurant is now plush. The front bar no longer has a sticky carpet but a polished old wooden floor. The fires are lit and I hear that the decoration of the front bar is scheduled for completion this month. It is a transformation !

17 Oct 2011 21:01

The Old House, Ightham

Just completing my reviews for the last month of sessions. Went in last Saturday evening. The Stag from Cairngorm brewery is all I had. When you find a beer this good there is no point in having anything else. I cannot laud this pub enough. OK they dont sell food, but have a bag of nuts and just appreciate what has to be one of the best pubs in the country. If you are hungry and dont want to increase the mortgage pop down the road top the Padwell. Or eat first and just go to the Old House all day. I could live in this pub and wish it was closer.

6 Oct 2011 21:08

George and Dragon, Chipstead

Gastro pub. Food is excellent and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sunday roat was superb but a little on the expensive side if you were going to go regularly. Beer well kept but again restaurant prices. I will be back when the bank balance recovers.

6 Oct 2011 21:00

Crown Point Inn, Seal

I thought I would give this a try. Food acceptable and well priced. The beer was awful. My advice would be to drive past next time and turn left down to the Padwell for a classic pub lunch or The Snail if you are feeling flush, or go to the Old House on Redwell Lane Igtham as it always has superb beer. I will not be back

6 Oct 2011 20:53

The Bucks Head, Godden Green

Tidy pub, well presented. But they are giving lessons in charging. A couple of pints, a sandwich and I barely had change out of 20. But it was all very well presented and tasty.

6 Oct 2011 20:49

The Padwell Arms, Seal

Went back for the third time this month. It is going from strength to strength. I had Maple Mld from Brentwood brewery. Delicious pint and clear a a bell. The Larkins was acceptable, but again spaklingly clean in the new glasses. The Coppernob and Hogs Back were superb. I joined this friends scheme that are running. Great idea. The new chef has kicked in and they even have waitresssed tables !

I had the Ploughmans which at 8.00 I thought it had to be good for that price. It was , that and more. Four different cheeses, a huge crusty baton, served with three different chutneys made on the premises, pickles and salad. I struggled to finish it. Brilliant.

I spoke to the Landlady and they were just about to start work on the refurb of the front of house. I will go back in few weeks ot see how it looks. The restaurant at the back is stunning and I hope they do it to the same standard.

6 Oct 2011 20:44

The Five Bells, Seal

It is what it is. If you are an overseas visitor and wish to learn some anglo saxon from a bloke called Dave who has come straight from work this is the place for you. This is a real shame, it used to be a lovely little pub. Efforts are being made to smarten it up and the Landlord is a very pleasant chap. He just needs a new clientele.

2 Sep 2011 08:20

The Chaser, Shipbourne

If you want a Pub , try the Old House , the Golding Hop or the Padwell. If you want a very nice lunch and someone else is paying the Chaser works. Not a Pub for beer drinlers. It is an out and out gastro pub and it does it well

2 Sep 2011 08:07

The Golding Hop, Plaxtol

The Golding Hop is one of the three "Must do" pubs in the area. The Old House and the Padwell being the other two. Ed is candid, speaks his mind and is most generous and welcoming. Yes he can be quirky and good luck to him !

If you like real cider the House Rough is stunning. The beer is always good and even though I don't care much for Adnams you cannot complain about the prices ! The food is stolid and traditional, the chips are the best ever and very reasonable priced.

Stunning location. Get there early for lunch at weekends. Yes the place is unchanged and that is part of the charm. It is perfect as it is ! I love it !

2 Sep 2011 08:01

The Old House, Ightham

One the "must do" pubs in the area. The Old House, The Golding Hop and the Padwell. Beers change weekly, and it is always a joy just to go and see what is on. This it what can be achieved when the Landlord is a true beer lover.

2 Sep 2011 07:52

The Padwell Arms, Seal

I will agree with my learned friend "earlydrinker" about the merits of the Old House and the Golding Hop. Im delighted too that The Padwell has rejoined the triumverate pubs serving quality beers at great prices.

The White Rock, The Bucks Head , The Rifleman, The Plough have much to learn from these institutions. They are only suitable for "Ladies who lunch on the old man's credit card" and should be avoided. Yesterday I returned to the Padwell and spoke with Maria. I believe her when she says that when the retsaurant opens it will not loose it's charm and become solely an eatery. I even signed up to become a "friend of the Padwell", fantastic idea.

29 Aug 2011 08:06

The Padwell Arms, Seal

In the midst of a wasteland of gastro pubs. This is a gem. I have known this for none years and seen it decline and fall into disrepair and utter neglect. The Padwell has a new lease of life thanks to the lovely Maria, everything a landlady should be ! Bright, bubbly and welcoming.

Some very nice fillies behind the bar but the beers were better ! In one small session I had a dark mild, a golden ale, a classic best and an all time great. Tonbridge Ebony Moon, Brentwood Gold, Hopdaemon Incubus and a bottle of Fullers ESB. This was marred only by Larkins Traditional which is overrated IMHO. It was all only 2.60 per pint to boot !

I was alos delighted to be able to eat some real food. Three different bangers in rolls with onions , a portion of chips and salad for 5.50....

A slightly more extensive menu and allowing them to finish the renovation and this will without doubt be a 10 !

Keep up the good work. Seal needs a decent real pub !

26 Aug 2011 20:48

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