How this Oare pub is helping during the lockdown
- Credit: Archant
Kent Life’s 2019 Pub of the Year, the Three Mariners, is living up to its top award by helping its community during these difficult times
When Sarah Simmonds, manager at the Three Mariners in Oare, told me over the phone that the pub was open and they were looking forward to my visit, I could have wept with gratitude.
So, for what could be my last review for some time, how fitting that it should be to take lunch at Kent Life’s 2019 Pub of the Year?
Oviously as I write things are changing with lightning speed and this is now one to put on the backburner as your first port of call when we Get Through This.
However, since my visit, literally on the eve of pub and restaurant closures, followed by nationwide lockdown, plans have been swiftly put into place to ensure that the Three Mariners can continue to support its loyal customer base.
Sarah and her team are now spending their days (and nights) cooking, baking and packing so that they can offer an online delivery service for key food items and dishes. “It has been a huge learning curve,” admits Sarah.
Starting off with home-made brownies and sausage rolls, they’ve widened the range to include vegan dishes like Smoky Jackfruit Stew and a vibrant wild garlic soup. New on the website are ‘feast night’ at home, under the categories ‘Fishy Wednesday’, ‘Friday feast’ (think gourmet hand-rolled pizza, white bean humous, marinated wings) and ‘Roast Sunday.’ Lucky locals.
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But back to my JIT visit, where my first thought was ‘this is the sort of heart-of-the-community pub every village should have’, even before I knew what lay ahead. Immediately welcoming, friendly staff offer a cheery greeting to everyone who enters, many of whom are walkers. Oare is definitely walking country and one day will be again for all of us.
And it might be a foodie destination for most, but it’s also a proper pub, with regulars ensconced at the front bar; always a good sign. Leading off from there are dining areas in three linked areas, plus a large, sunny outside terrace.
Decor is unpretentious; wooden floors, grey-painted walls, bits of ships’ memorabilia, a fantastically cheery central log fire. I sit at a corner table and enjoy the delight of a couple on their first ‘working from home’ day, which they celebrate with a lavish lunch and quite a lot of red wine. I doubt much got done that afternoon.
A wooden board with a hearty chunk of home-baked bread, oil and butter arrives – a welcome gesture for every diner – and it’s such a clever start. If the bread is this good, the rest will surely be.
And it is. I choose intriguingly named ‘Duck, Tea, Broth’ from the starters menu, which introduces me to my first ever charred plum, an inspired combo when accompanying succulent, tea-smoked duck breast.
There’s a little jug of tea broth to pour over the meat and a zingingly fresh salad leaves with a scattering of walnuts throughout.
Sarah recommends a glass of their Rosé Wine of the Month, a delicate Pinot Noir Rosé from the Simpsons wine estate in the North Kent Downs. It’s the perfect match – the stone fruit in the wine goes so well with the plum – from an exemplary list that makes a point of showcasing local wines.
For my main I’m drawn to the daily specials board and am delighted to learn that my choice of skate wing has been caught that morning by local fisherman Bluey Walpole. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted fresher, more delicately perfect fish, quite rightly served very simply with buttered new potatoes, caper butter and my first asparagus this year. Accompanied by the White Wine of the Month, Hush Heath’s aromatic Liberty Bacchus, it’s pure spring on a plate.
I continue the refined theme with another seasonal dish, pretty-as-a-picture rhubarb cheesecake, the natural sharpness of the fruit counterbalanced by a creamy loveliness and a smattering of greenery on top.
Enjoyed with a cup of perfect coffee, I noted ‘I just don’t want this moment to ever end.’
This is a very special pub, a worthy winner of its Pub of the Year crown and now adapting to serve its community in exemplary fashion. I look forward to its return in its full capacity, and to mine.
What: Cosy pub with log fires and distant creek views, serving modern European cuisine focused on local seafood
Where: The Three Mariners, Oare, Faversham ME13 0QA, email@example.com, 01795 533633
When: Mon-Thu 12pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 12pm-11pm, Sun 12pm-8pm
How much: cod cakes, saffron mayo, pancetta crisps £7.95; mushroom and pecan Wellington with ginger-whipped sweet potato £16.95, pan-roasted duck breast with parsnip and potato Dauphinoise; puds all £6.95
Meet the chef - Ciro d’Alterio
Tell us a bit about you
I grew up in Italy and have always loved to cook; I’m passionate about fresh local produce and being creative. I’ve been at The Three Mariners for the past two years.
Who are your main local suppliers?
Brogdale, TJ Fruit & Veg and Hollowshore Fisheries.
Your current favourite dish?
Halibut, crab beignet, lobster bisque and seasonal greens.
Your top cookery tip for readers?
Cook with the ingredients you have at home, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Who has influenced you most?
My grandmother, with her secret Italian recipes.
Your must-have kitchen aid?
My kitchen porter! Seriously, it’s parchment paper, probably one of the most under-appreciated tools in a kitchen; it allows you to make a mess with minimal clean-up. Cheap and disposable, it can be cut to whatever size is needed, and rolled into a piping cone for many uses. Tip for the home cook: make sure to use parchment not waxed paper.
What did you have for breakfast?
The most important meal of the day, though sadly I’m always in a hurry, so just fruit before I jump on my scooter.