Two minds really are better than one – a cliché brothers Chris and James Tanner hold true. Celebrating more than 20 years in the sector with restaurants in Devon and their award-winning gastropub the Kentish Hare, which they launched in 2014, there’s no denying the duo have created something very special.
The pub has been a labour of love for the pair since its launch, with every inch of it retaining that ‘just-made’ look, while also being homely and inviting. “The site that we’re sat on now was actually to be knocked down completely and flats to be built on it,” explains James. “We’re in a lovely semi-rural village, close to London and close to two big towns. We saw a market for commuters and for locals.
“The site is beautiful now, but it needed some serious TLC. And I mean serious. We thought can we do it? Shall we do it? And we did and I’m so pleased that we did.”
The pub is split almost 50:50 into dining and bar space, which has been done purposefully so the pub can have a real community feel. There’s also a generous garden at the back with ample seating, but the focus is mostly on the food, which makes sense as that’s where the brothers’ talents lie, but that doesn’t mean drinks aren’t important to the business.
But the food, the food is what most people from far and wide travel to sample, so what’s it all about? “How to describe our food? I suppose… is the term modern British? I’m not sure,” James says trying to define the pub’s style. But one thing he is certain on is that there’s a trusted trio of fresh, seasonal and local ingredients used in the kitchen, as well as using products with a unique selling point to the brothers.
“Of course, we use a lot of ingredients from Kent – the garden of England where we are,” James says. “But because of our ties with the West Country, and also our great connections with suppliers down west with stunning produce, we actually cross the ingredients from this area and the west.”
Dishes have included White Lake Farm goats’ curd with heritage beetroots, walnut, clementine and bitter leaves; pork coppa with pearl barley, salt baked celeriac and cavolo nero; and Bramley apple crumble served with clotted cream.