Second oldest pub in the country with glorious heritage in design, name & setting and with Michelin recommended food but with questionable service
What an absolute treat for an Easter bank holiday. The George & Dragon is set in the immaculate Kent countryside between the gems of Penshurst and Royal Tonbridge Wells. Dating back to 1212 it is believed to be the second oldest pub in the entire country and is worthy of a visit even just for a drink on that basis alone as the original design and décor is heritage to the max. Additionally, based on the food today, I’m pleased to say it is worth stopping in for a bite to eat as well, if one is looking for simple rustic food done to a pleasing standard.
I would recommend reading the conditions for the set menus carefully and the à la carte menu provided a selection of simple and classic British gastropub food. The salt-crusted bread was a great pleasure to open and the onion tart, mackerel and crab starters were all perfectly agreeable and honest starters. Although I felt the chips were slightly overdone and dry, the beer-battered cod was thankfully completely on the ball (very fresh cod). I was surprised that the peas were not as mushy as one would expect, but they had just enough flavour and I was very pleased that the tartare sauce was freshly made.
The star of the show though, was the tonka bean panna cotta – not the first time I have had this clever formula as it was remarkably similar to that served on my last visit to the 2 Michelin Hand and Flowers (by Tom Kerridge), but I did enjoy the combination of the rhubarb and honey comb at the George & Dragon (I would say the Hand & Flowers version pips the post as is more creamy, softer and not as thick). Service was a little mixed (perhaps inevitable with some younger, members of staff that possibly need menu-refresher training whilst on their break from University) but in the main, the service here had good intentions all round.
Overall, this was a very nice visit to an absolutely charming pub in a lovely part of Kent, serving hearty food (via generous main-portions!) that was cleanly presented, was perfectly passable on the palate with a couple of heightened moments. Definitely worth a drop-in if passing nearby or wanting a very safe-bet country pub option in Kent.
Food Grade: 64%
Location (Click google logo for directions)