When we visited The Fordwich Arms, a Michelin-starred pub in Kent, back in the spring of 2019 we were totally blown away by the food. In April that year, it was easily the best meal we’d had, and by the end of the year nothing had beaten it. We still regularly namecheck it as one of our favourite restaurants, especially when people ask us about places out of town. So when we heard that chef-owner Dan Smith was opening a new place not far away called The Bridge Arms, we were absolutely buzzing to get down there, and booked ourselves an outdoor table in those unreliable post-12th April outdoor dining days of 2021.
Luckily, the Sunday we rocked up was (just about) a warm sunny day and we were able to eat an absolutely amazing Sunday lunch without putting the umbrella up. The menu and approach at the Bridge Arms is perhaps slightly more casual than at The Fordwich – there’s no tasting menu and there’s more of a focus on dishes cooked over the charcoal grill – but the level of cooking here is still very high, and leagues beyond what you’d normally expect in a country pub. There’s a huge focus on local produce and it’s got a great location for such an endeavour, being only about 10 miles from the coast and with all the fresh fruit, veg, and meat coming from surrounding farms.
The daily menu changes a bit on a Sunday, with a few of the regular mains being replaced by classic roast options, but the snacks and starters are largely the same. We can highly recommend starting with a glass of the local English fizz made by Simpsons just down the road, together with the amazing whipped cod’s roe and barley crackers, and the pillow-soft grilled potato flatbreads with confit garlic. That will set you up right.
From the starters, there’s rich chicken liver parfait served with toasted brioche and fresh, sharp rhubarb – beautifully presented and one of our favourites of the day. A thin sliver of smoked chalk stream trout topped with slices of grape came next; a more subtle flavour than the punchy parfait but no less successful and a perfect lighter option before you get to the main event.
A good Sunday roast is hard to beat and it was no surprise that the guys knocked it out the park in this department. There’s a choice of chicken, beef, lamb and pork, as well as a pretty awesome-sounding celeriac & wild garlic pithivier for a veggie option. We went in for the beef and the pork between us, served with perfect roasties, Yorkshire puds, creamed potato and fresh local greens. Sublime. Do save room for dessert, if you can after all that, because the brown butter and Kentish honey custard tart with rhubarb and Sauternes sorbet is worth going the extra mile for.
The Bridge Arms is clearly another hit, even in the early days that we visited. The pub itself is Grade II listed and has been beautifully refurbished, so we can’t wait to get back down there again soon to have the full experience. If you haven’t been to The Fordwich or The Bridge Arms yet, we suggest you get down to one, or both of them, sharpish. And if you need some wheels to get you down there, check out the Onto car subscription service here.
53 High St, Bridge, Canterbury CT4 5LA