We’re back, after a couple of months where we have had to focus on our real jobs and a brief period of ill health we are blogging to our hearts content once more.
If you follow the food related gumpf we publish you will know that we are no Gastrosperts. In other words, we don’t know a great deal about the actual food we shovel into our mouths. But to quote a phrase ‘we know what we like.’
For us it is much more about the overall experience rather than the food alone. You could serve us up the finest Michelin star fayre, but if the waiting staff are at risk of disappearing up their own behinds, or the atmosphere is sterile and unwelcoming, we won’t rate it highly. On the flip side if the food is decent honest grub, but the service is amazing and we love the overall experience, we will bang on about it forever.
With that in mind then, we offer you our latest assessment of one of Kent’s gastropubs which is growing in reputation, The Dirty Habit in Hollingbourne.
Now here’s the thing. I find it totally unfair that the Gods of good food whilst neglecting to offer a Town like Sittingbourne with its population heading towards 50, 000, not one single outstanding gastro pub or fine dining venue, whilst a village like Hollingbourne has a population of about 12 people, but boasts now 2 outstanding restaurants, The Windmill and the Dirty Habit.
Yes, we have placed those 2 local rivals in the same sentence. Our Favourite the Windmill now has a rival, and it’s a stone’s throw away. We booked the Dirty Habit for a Christmas Eve treat for the Actual Cool Kent family based on the simple premise that we wanted an atmospheric occasion that would not break the bank.
From the first impression, we knew we’d chosen well. A country pub at Christmas needs to have old world charm, a massive Christmas tree, a roaring fire and enough exposed timber to make Henry Tudor smile. The Dirty Habit has all these things in abundance. We were seated in Leather backed chairs draped in warming furs and snuggled not far from a real fire which spat and crackled away all night as locals drank at the bar laughing and being very local.
Between the entire clan, we ordered Kentish Game pie with Partridge, pheasant and Pigeon, Butternut Pasta flat mushrooms and mozzarella Gnocchi bake, Rye Bay Cod fillet in spinach and pasta. The food was rich and tasty, original and well presented. Portions were more than enough and my game pie came with a light and fluffy potato crust.
We normally go for local produce, and the Dirty Habit, like the Windmill, specialises in this. My Game pie came with a warning that it may contain shot, it was so local and fresh it had a Kentish accent. I am pleased to report there was no munitions fund within my pie but thanks for the heads up.
As usual the entire meal was washed down with Kent’s finest, Chapel Down sparkling pink wine, the perfect Christmas drink.
So now to the all-important scores.
The location is a Kent Tourists dream, the sleepy charming village of Hollingbourne is near to the M20, but far enough away from Maidstone and Sittingbourne to be peaceful and unspoilt. So, Location is 8/10
The Food was brilliant, not oversized, not too expensive and a menu that was not overwhelming, just the right number of options and plenty of local dishes and ingredients. When you have a restaurant in the Garden of England why would you want to important anything? So, 9/10 for the quality and quantity.
The Atmosphere was great, a roaring fire, luxury setting, Christmas tree and lively chatter in the background so a 9/10 for that
Value for money, well probably not the cheapest meal we’ve ever had, but when you consider we had 3 courses, Chapledown, whiskey and coffee, for an average of £40 a head, that’s really not that bad for a Christmas treat, so definelately worth the 8/10
And finally, and in many ways the most important, the Service. Well they could not do more for us! The service was paced perfectly, not rushed, friendly, informative and when the whiskey we ordered was not available we got an upgrade to a 12-year-old malt for no extra charge. Little things like that make all the difference. So that a 9/10 for service.
So overall that’s an impressive 86%! Well done to the team at the Dirty Habit, who worked diligently on a Christmas eve to provide our magical evening. We hope that you got the chance to rest over Christmas as we know it’s hard for those in catering and service to get a break at the holiday season. Thank you for making our night so memorable.
The Windmill now has a challenger