Officially the smallest town in Britain administered by a council, sleepy Fordwich (not far from Canterbury) recently got a wake-up call when a chef and sommelier from London’s Michelin-starred The Clove Club took over their spit-and-sawdust local boozer. The building itself is a ridiculously photogenic 1930s redbrick classic, and the pub still has its trademark fixtures (roaring fires, panelling, local ales on the handpumps), but these days it’s suddenly all about the food.
Taking The Sportsman at Seasalter as its blueprint, the Fordwich Arms offers inspired upscale food in seriously unfussy, easy-going surroundings – no fawning waiters or horrendous bills here. Instead, whizz-kid chef Dan Smith and co serve up obsessively local ingredients in clever combinations with no holds barred: hay-smoked confit trout with courgette, spiced butter and horseradish; roast lamb with black garlic, morels and crisp potato; ‘hen of the woods’ mushrooms with pickled walnuts, hispi cabbage and chickpea pannise; Fordwich ‘Snickers’. There are home-cured meats, house pickles and rock oysters to nibble, while wine drinkers can pick from a nifty list courtesy of sommelier Guy Palmer Brown. “The quality is almost beyond compare”, enthuses a fan. One to watch, we think.