Our stay at the Black Horse Inn was completely mixed, I was going to write two reviews, one for the hotel and one for the restaurant, but decided to merge them into one.
First, the hotel. The room was fine, we quite liked the little huts, but the night we were there the inn was putting on a wedding reception. This meant that finding a parking space was not easy and the very steep access road which our room was next to was constantly in use. Also, the bass of the music was a constant thud until around 11:15pm, I guess it's just luck if you'll be staying when an event was on, but it meant winding down wasn't easy. The room was clean, the shower was weak but acceptable and in the morning the breakfast was ok, but not stand out. For £100 for the night, I'd give it 3 stars.
We arrived around 2pm and couldn't check in straight away, so popped in for a light lunch. I had a ploughmans and my partner had a chicken and bacon mayo baguette. They were out of ham and replaced it with beef and pâté which although a strange combination was appreciated. However, the chicken and bacon mayo was 90% mayo and my partner could barely eat it, so I gave her some of my ploughmans.
After the hit and miss lunch we arranged to have dinner there and turned up in the evening. I ordered the special, a lamb shank with pea mash, baby beet root and baby carrots (£18)whereas my partner ordered the steak, chips, and onion rings with a side of peppercorn sauce(£21+£2).
These weren't cheap dishes, around £4-£8 more than other well reviewed pubs we have been to before, but after looking on trip advisor, we expected something good.
When the dishes turned up, I was disappointed. The steak was quite small, 7oz I think, and the lamb shank was slightly overcooked with little gravy and sitting on a thin layer of pea mash, barely a couple of tablespoons worth. Also, the baby beet roots had morphed into asparagus. After tasting my first mouthful of lamb shank however, it had a good flavour, but it was then I realised the bone was around 80% of the dish. Obviously I have had lamb shank before and realise that there is a large bone in the middle, but in this case there was a lot less meat than I expected.
My partner was very impressed with the flavour of the steak, but the chips were very average. However, the real disappointment came in the shape of the onion rings and peppercorn sauce. The rings were soggy, reheated from frozen, and although it came in a small jug, the peppercorn sauce barely covered the bottom, meaning when poured out it didn't cover the surface of the steak.
Frankly, we felt pretty ripped off. These two main courses in total cost just under £45 and although the meat tasted good, even for £15 less I think we would have overpaid. We did order a single dessert to share, a chocolate brownie which was very nice, but again at £7, it was £2 more than I'd expect for a decent pub dessert.
Overall, the light lunch, plus a dinner of two mains and a dessert came to around £85 including a few drinks, which felt really expensive for what we got. Although the meat and dessert quality were good, the price drops the experience to a low 2 stars.
A few more general points to finish with. The staff were generally excellent, very helpful, and being English, we didn't really feel like complaining about the price or amount of food. The pub itself is one of the prettiest I've ever visited, lovely just to pop in and feel the atmosphere. However, every time we sat in the pub, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner it was far too hot. In fact for breakfast I took a 5 min break to cool down.
It feels as if they are cashing in on the fact the building is beautiful and that reviewers on tripadvisor probably don't want to be seen to complain about price or portion size. Even though my sister lives around 5 minutes away, I don't think we'll be back which is a shame.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- 17th Century Pub / Restaurant with beams, hops and open fireplaces serving real ales and country wine. 27 beautiful en-suite rooms in the grounds provide a peaceful haven around the duck pond. Ideal for business or tourists. Close to Leeds Castle and only a 50 minute train journey to London. Lovely gardens and outside dining area. Also licensed for Civil Marriage Ceremonies.Fully equiped air conditioned business centre ideal for conferences, meetings and training seating up to 80 delegates ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Black Horse Hotel Maidstone
- Black Horse Maidstone