Fordwich Arms

British, Gastropub·
Gold Award

SquareMeal Review of Fordwich Arms

Gold Award

Officially the smallest town in Britain administered by a council, sleepy Fordwich (not far from Canterbury) 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 ridiculously photogenic, a 1930s redbrick classic with a dreamy setting next to the river Stour, and the pub still has its trademark fixtures (roaring fires, panelling, local ales on the handpumps). But while the location is pretty as a picture, these days it’s 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.

Prices, admittedly, are more restaurant than pub, but there’s a weekday set lunch menu offering three courses for £35. Really, though, this is no place to be abstemious, and we’d recommend going instead for the nine-course tasting menu for £95, with matched wines another £85; a vegetarian version is also available. If that sounds too formal, Sunday lunch brings roasts of middle white pork chop, rack of Black Faced lamb, rump of Hereford beef or roast Hereford cote de boeuf, with all the traditional trimmings.

“The quality is almost beyond compare”, enthuses one fan, while another chimes “this is a great place for a really special meal, with stunning food and amazing service.”  One to watch, we think.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - Over £80
British, Gastropub
Cosy, Lively, Romantic, Traditional
Other Awards
SquareMeal UK Top 100
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch, Sunday roast
Alfresco And Views
Outside seating, Terrace, Waterside
Special Features
Vegan options, Vegetarian options
Birthdays, Celebrations, Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating


By now it hardly feels like the Fordwich Arms requires any introduction at all, so magnetic has its draw been for keen foodies heading to the countryside on a pub pilgrimage. If you count yourself amongst the crowd, on arrival you’ll be met with a smart pub that balances just the right amount of authenticity with a good dose of plaudit worthy grub.

Chef patrons Daniel and Natasha Smith come to the pass with a wealth of experience. Daniel previously worked under Jason Atherton and at The Clove Club in London, while Natasha’s experience includes time at Michelin starred Chapter One in Kent, as well as heading up the pastry team for a prestigious capital-based catering company. Together, the pair have worked tirelessly to create a welcoming, hospitable vibe that not only offers diners a cosy, friendly place to relax and recuperate, but also delivers some of the best food in the area.

Unusually for a pub, there’s a tasting menu option which gives diners a unique insight into the full capability of the kitchen. With six courses plus snacks, bread and petit four, it’s not for the faint of heart, but if you come hungry, you’ll be well rewarded for your £110 investment. Starters might include a raw Orkney scallop with apple, coriander, and a jalapeno smoked butter, while mains bring dishes such as roast venison with braised shoulder, cep, kale, and quince. Pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan tasting menus are all available too.

Should you prefer, there’s also an a la carte which allows for you to create your own perfect menu from a short but sharp billing of the biggest hitters. Here you’ll find some of the same dishes that are on the tasting menu, plus sweets like the Kentish honey tart served with a crème fraiche parfait, orange marmalade and honey cream.


Are there vegan options?

Yes, there are dedicated a la carte and vegan menus available.

Helpful? 0

Is there a cancellation charge?

Any reservations cancelled with less than 48 hours notice will be automatically charged a fee of £40 per person.

Helpful? 0


King Street, Fordwich, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 0DB

01227 286690 01227 286690


Opening Times

Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 12:00-14:30
Thu 12:00-14:30
Fri 12:00-14:30
Sat 12:00-14:30
Sun 12:00-17:00
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed 18:00-21:30
Thu 18:00-21:30
Fri 18:00-21:30
Sat 18:00-21:30
Sun Closed


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3 Reviews 

John H

09 April 2019  
Just a couple of years ago this was a fairly unremakable pub but it has now been transformed into a destination restaurant. The food and service are first class and the little village in which it is situated is very charming. Expensive but worth it.

Sara B

05 April 2019  
Excellent in every aspect, country feel, relaxed, great food and lovely wines.

Richard C

21 March 2018  
Fantastic authentic Italian food in an "honest" and down to earth setting. Always full which is testament to the food.
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01227 286690 01227 286690

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