All About The Local at The Coach Hacklinge
BY SAMANTHA READY
Think best restaurants in Kent and it’s likely that at least one of the Beach Street Restaurants’ stable of neighbourhood pubs and dining experiences would rank on your list. Since opening 81 Beach Street in 2005 (and being named ‘Kent’s Best Restaurant’ before the year was out), The Granville in Canterbury joined the ranks a decade later, swiftly followed by The Coastguard at St Margaret’s Bay in 2017. So, it stands to reason that the announcement of the opening of its most recent addition, The Coach in Hacklinge, and the appointment of head chef David Kirton has created a new sense of excitement at the much-loved pub that has served the area for half a century.
Demonstrating the same passion for great food and great service – and driven by the fact that the only way to achieve both is to have the best people working together – The Coach stands in a unique location known by many for many years as the ‘Halfway House’ as it sits between Kent’s beautiful coastal towns of Deal and Sandwich.
Indeed just minutes’ drive from each and surrounded by rolling fields and countryside, The Coach itself has been reinvigorated, not just by a new dedicated team, but by a sympathetic contemporary refurbishment which delivered a brand-new restaurant, large garden and a relaxing bar area serving traditional Kentish cask ale, distinctive international lagers and Kentish wines by the glass, yet it proudly still retains that welcoming ‘local pub’ ethos.
Embodying a contemporary farmhouse aesthetic, The Coach is about clean lines, modern light fittings and Farrow & Ball lovers’ neutral colours. That said, oak-beamed mantels over wood-burning stove fires, reclaimed painted farmhouse dining chairs and squishy leather sofas work to bring fabulously welcoming comfort.
Greeted with effortlessly big smiles, the team made light work of seating our multi-gen family of eight plus a pooch, easily taking drinks orders which ranged from coffee to apple juice, a quick pint to cocktails (it’s 7pm somewhere right?!) all while handing out menus, which offers kid’s options tried and tested on head chef David’s own family, and offering recommendations across the range of well-conceived modern British dishes and elevated pub classics, all of which make use of local seasonal produce from suppliers including Docker Brewery and Bakehouse, Jenkins & Son Fishmongers in Deal and Stour Valley Butchers in Canterbury.
The menu begins with nibbles, which can be ordered singly or in as a ‘pick-n-mix’ of four to share for just £20. The warm Docker sourdough and olive focaccia with herb oil, balsamic, butter and roast garlic hummus was a table must, yet we reluctantly passed over the truffle popcorn and Cumberland sausage roll lured instead by starters of Korean fried chicken – sweet, sticky and spicy with sesame, spring onion and a kick of lime; and slow-braised brisket and Ashmore cheddar croquettes with a crisp shell that gave way to mornay-sauce heaven, made especially pleasurable with a dunk in its accompanying mustard mayo.
Mains led to a whirlwind of picks across the menu: ‘Kitchen Special’ British beef steak and ale pie with crushed new potatoes was an instant flakey pastry hit. The 8oz sirloin and 6oz rump steaks, both perfectly seared and heaving with triple-cooked chips were both devoured – with a thumbs-up from our steak connoisseur six year old! Yet it was the burgers that gave the most excitement. The Classic, a 6oz with extra cheese and bacon added came in a soft brioche bun with crispy fries and moreish celeriac and tarragon slaw, but it was the new ‘The Coach’ (nicknamed the ‘McBid’) that gave the biggest “mmm…” moment – perhaps in a nod to its special sauce inspiration. Sated, relaxed and not wanting to leave, a few hardcore among us dug in for dessert and were rewarded with a slab of fudgy chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream and shard of honeycomb, and a sweet sticky date pudding smothered in butterscotch sauce served with vanilla pod ice cream, before we bade a reluctant farewell to smiling waves and a chorus of “see you soon”. We arrived as curious first timers and left feeling like regulars – I’m sure you will too!
The Coach Hacklinge serves food from 12pm – 9pm Monday to Saturday, and 12pm – 5pm on Sundays with starters from £6.50, mains from £14 and desserts from £7.20.
The Coach Hacklinge