Page Updated:- Sunday, 02 July, 2023.


Earliest 2013

(Name from)

Kentish Hare

Open 2023+

95 Bidborough Ridge


01892 525709

Kentish Hare

Above photo, date unknown.

Kentish Hare 2017

Above photo, 2017.

Kentish Hare 2017

Above restaurant area 2017.

Kentish Hare 2022

Above photo March 2022. Kindly sent by Sue Cranmer.

Kentish Hare 2023

Above photo 2023.

From the By Secret Drinker, 29 June 2023.

Secret Drinker reviews the Kentish Hare pub at Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells.

There’s hardly a hare out of place, so much so, it feels as if you’ve walked into a show home, but can the Kentish Hare in Bidborough live up to its star billing?

In the entrance porch the stage was set with three warning signs. The first one over eggs the pudding, as I’m sure everyone is aware smoking isn’t allowed in pubs any more. The second notice says muddy boots are not allowed and a supply of blue plastic overshoes are available. The third sign says only polite dogs are allowed, and only in the library.

Kentish Hare signs 2023

We’d perused the menu outside but, given the prices, the accounts department will issue a sigh of relief to hear the kitchen had just closed. Mind you, a packet of crisps was still a whopping 1.70.

Into the bar. I looked up and down the beer taps but couldn’t discern much as each was fronted by a trendy stainless steel plate with limited detail.

I did question the barman regarding the guest beer which he thought was double-hopped, but he had no idea which brewery it came from, although he said it might be local.

All I can report is that it was a reasonable pint of bitter but if I saw my time over again I would definitely have opted for the IPA Mrs SD selected.

I’m not sure how recently the Kentish Hare was decorated but it feels almost too neat and tidy for a pub, I’m sure if I had dared to sit inside the cushions would have been thoroughly fluffed up the moment I left.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful looking place, but boy does it know it and, just in case you miss the message, you’ll find awards and even award entries displayed right round the place.

Kentish Hare kitchen 2023

The kitchen, as you can see through the window, was still in action but we had passed closing time so had to settle for crisps.

Kentish Hare pumps

The pumps’ highly polished stainless steel signs don’t contain much information – don’t be fooled by the reflections of other things in the bar.

It’s clearly set up for dining, so with a pint and crisps in hand both Mrs SD and I headed for the garden, which we could see through the open doors at the far end of the restaurant.

However, as we set off we had our path blocked by the manager who, rather brusquely, asked us to retrace our steps, go out through the side door and walk round the pub to get to the garden.

I assumed this was suggested to avoid us walking past diners who were still enjoying their lunch but I couldn’t see anyone in the room.

Kentish Hare back

There’s an entrance to the pub garden leading from the car park. The kitchen’s storeroom is also at the far end of the car park.

Kentish Hare restaurant 2023

The open doors at the end of the restaurant led to the garden but we were turned around and sent in another direction.

But, once perched at our bench in the beautifully manicured outside area, I noticed a number of other, equally well manicured, customers walk back into the pub, and out again through the dining room, without so much as a word being said. I’m sure this had nothing to do with the way we were dressed and much more to do with the fact we weren’t regulars, but Mrs SD suddenly felt a little underdressed and unwanted.

There were cushions on all the picnic benches and the bushes and hedges had all been carefully sculpted. Ironically the only thing which was in need of a little attention were the topiary hedges styled in the shape of hares.

The parasols, if not new, looked carefully cleaned and cared for and the area was beautifully framed with rose-covered arbours, ably supported by impressive wisteria.

If food was being served then the fish and chips would cost you 18.50 and a mixed nut snack to go with your pint would be 3.50. I suspect locals are reassured by the near-London prices and the pub/restaurant is comforted that the pricing retains the clientele it is looking for.

The staff were all impeccably presented in black uniforms and supervised to within an inch of their lives by the carefully controlling manager.

There was a little background music inside, though it wasn’t pumped into the garden, and there definitely aren’t any machines, TV screens, pool, darts or jukebox.

Kentish Hare garden tables

Tables in the garden, as well as the pub, were laid for dining.

Kentish Hare boot bag

Please use clean overshoes to cover muddy boots and shoes.

The gents and ladies were as wonderfully clean, fresh and well-presented as everywhere else and, in line with the instruction notices in the porch, there was a poster advising gentlemen how to use the toilet. I must say you learn a lot about a place from the quality of its hand cream.

With the number of advisory signs on display I wasn’t altogether surprised to find one offering instruction on how, and how not, to use the toilet.

On the way back I had a quick count up of the customers and it was definitely favoured by the fairer sex as men were outnumbered by 21 to five, not including the staff.

Whether it is the superb housekeeping the clientele are attracted by or the fact it is so carefully marshaled, I couldn’t possibly say, but there’s no denying this is a beautiful pub and that it knows it.

The trouble is, at no point did it feel either comfortable or welcoming – and we certainly didn’t consider staying for a second drink.

Kentish Hare inside

Not a hare out of place, or even a sweet pea – I was sure the cushion would have been plumped after I left if I’d decided to sit here.

Kentish Hare garden 2023

To be fair, we would have missed this beautiful arched entrance to the garden if we’d been allowed to take the route favoured by locals.

Decor: The decoration is absolutely superb and there is nothing out of place. Unfortunately, for me, it felt like a show home and did not feel comfortable or welcoming. ****

Drink: It was difficult to work out what was available on draught and, unfortunately, the barman wasn’t able to shed much more light. The bitter was okay but the IPA was the one to go for, whatever it was. **

Price: The okay bitter was a fiver and the IPA 5.85. A packet of crisps was 1.70 and if you went for nuts, they’d be 3.50. Fish and chips was on the menu at 18.50. **

Staff: The staff were fine, but looked scared to put a foot wrong and when the manager wasn’t redirecting us, she was busy directing them. Don’t be in any doubt this is a tight-run ship. **

Kentish Hare gents 2023

The gents were clean, fresh and, like everywhere else, extremely well maintained.

We didn’t get the chance to sample the food, but it ought to be good at 18.50 for fish and chips and 17.50 for a burger.

I spotted this outside the back door of the kitchen, quite possibly the most effective fly catcher I’ve seen.

Kentish Hare fly catcher

I spotted this outside the back door of the kitchen, quite possibly the most effective fly catcher I’ve seen.



TANNER James & Chris 2017+ (owners and chefs)


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