Our trip to the Hare & Hounds, Northbourne
The Hare and Hounds has changed hands several times in recent years suffering from lack of business. But under new ownership and a chef from the Roux brother’s Gavroche, The Hare & Hounds has turned itself around to become a hidden gastro treasure, the owner Ryan invited us to try out their menu.
The Hare & Hounds had been on our radar for a while, having seen pictures of the food on instagram and was on our list of places to visit, but the prospect of travelling out to Northbourne meant that it got a little forgotten. A misjudgement of course considering it’s just a ten minute drive from Deal, and on a sunny evening, a pleasant journey down country lanes.
A glance at the menu and things are looking promising, we’re here for dinner but have already made a note to come back and try the sandwiches one lunchtime. Some truffle popcorn is brought out while we decide. It’s simple, delicious and a great idea, as we’ve filled up on free bread before a meal too many times before. We go for the cajun squid and crab mac 'n' cheese bites to start, they are hot crispy and salty. The homemade bbq sauce accompanying the mac n cheese bites is the best thing about the dish for me, while the squid is perfectly seasoned with a just enough kick.
For the mains Ben opted for pizza, an obvious choice for someone who has pizza dough running through their veins. Coming from the largest Italian community in the UK, he likes to think himself as an authority on the subject. The wood fired pizza was spot on, evenly melted cheese and a richly meaty salami, simple and well done. Having fallen in love with chicken and waffles after trying Roscoe's in LA. I chose the chicken and pancakes. I was surprised to find one pancake rather than a stack, but it was thick and filling, soaking up just enough of the sweet and spicy syrup. The chicken itself was gone all too quick although the flavour of the batter somewhat lost in the syrup. I love food that combines sweet and savoury and this dish pulled that off perfectly. For people looking for something a bit more out their comfort zone the chicken and pancakes are a great choice, as it sounds adventurous but tastes like comfort food.
The first two courses leave us comfortably satisfied, so we decided to share a dessert. The desert menu was a little limited, so the chocolate fudge cake is a no brainer. Served with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, the fudge cake was a great choice. Warm, sweet, sticky and indulgent. There is a little fudge sauce, but this goes a long way as the strong fudgey flavour comes through in each bite. I believe this lack of choice in the menu represents the place as a whole. Often pub menu's will chose to fill their menus trying to please everyone while the quality of the food suffers, where as the Hare & Hounds choses only the items they know they can consistently deliver at an exceptional quality.
The pub is relatively small but well used, with locals at the bar. Dogs and their owners are welcome and treats provided. The atmosphere is very homely village local, somewhere you’d happily spend a long Sunday afternoon. Service is smooth and attentive, and prices are very reasonable, especially for such great quality food. With a menu that's both accessible and exciting It's somewhere everyone should have on their radar- we'll be back soon.