I can’t tell if it is a good or a bad thing that The Granville, just south of Canterbury, is associated with its impeccable, Michelin Star-clad sister pub The Sportsman just a few miles away at Seasalter.
Every restaurant should be judged on its own merits, but I can’t help thinking that this eatery in Lower Hardres, run by the same people as those who brought The Sportsman to fame, could forever live in its big sister’s shadow, or indeed be dragged along on its culinary crest, even if it doesn’t deserve to be.
The Granville is a picturesque pub with a modern interior, an open restaurant and a bar area. The atmosphere is good and the way they do things is different – and I like it.
You order drinks at the bar and take a few sips while mulling over the chalkboard featuring the evening’s starters and main courses. Order and then head to your seats.
Homemade sliced foccacia bread, butter and sesame seeds were brought to the table shortly before my guest’s choice of oriental pork salad (£7.50) arrived, along with my four rock oysters with shallot vinegar (£1.40 each).
The oysters were beautiful and fresh, as you would expect of a restaurant with close links to the seaside vendors. They tasted clean and cool, served perfectly with no shell remnants.
My guest let me try some of her salad, which included thinly-sliced carrots, lettuce, cress and a delightful dressing. We agreed it was a fine dish. You know it was enjoyed when your other half says she wants to make it at home one day.
Our main course was out promptly, heralding my chicken tagine with tzatziki (£12.95), served with green beans and new potatoes. The sauce was tasty and the portion a good size, but I was disappointed by the presentation and the potatoes were a little dry.
It was strange that the tagine came out on a regular plate. I know this is a pub and not a Morrocan restaurant, but I thought it lacked a bit of zing and was clumsy.
My guest had the tagliatelle with ricotta, peas and mint (£9.95). She enjoyed it but was not as enthused as she had been by her starter.
The service was good for most of the evening, although we were left to wait between mains and desserts for almost half an hour. The staff on service did, in fairness, apologise and gave us a drink on the house, which was a nice gesture.
To finish, I went with flourless chocolate cake with whiskey and dark chocolate ice-cream, raspberry sauce and fresh raspberries at £5.95.
The sharp whiskey flavour complemented the deep chocolate pudding excellently and the fresh fruity taste was a bonus. My partner went for the vanilla crème brûlée with brandy chocolate truffles at £5.95. All fine.
The Granville offers good pub food at a good price: £65 for two, with drinks. Its menu is not ambitious, but The Granville knows what it’s about.