Robertsbridge – The George Inn

The George Inn was the evening’s entertainment after the 12-mile walk and meander around the delights of Bodiam Castle. Just a little disappointingly, the inn doesn’t give any information about the building’s heritage on its web-site, but Whatpub come to the rescue though with this interesting note:

“In earlier years Hillaire Belloc was a frequent visitor, and wrote the early chapters of ‘Four Men’ here. The book begins ‘Nine years ago, as I was sitting in the George at Robertsbridge, drinking that port of theirs and staring at the fire ……’”

Looking through some old newspapers, I like that when the Flimwell & Hastings Turnpike wanted to widen the village’s Clappers Bridges that they laid the documentation out in the inn. There’s something intriguing about knowing that villagers and contractors would have visited the inn in 1835 to have a look at the plans, likely through the same door that we entered through.

There’s also a poster from the late Victorian period on display at the nearby Salehurst Church which notes a jubilee fete which took place in Robertsbridge. There was all manner of different sporting activity taking place, with a procession to the church starting from outside the George.

I also like the little incident that took place in 1922 when the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer reported that the licensee of the George had been summonsed for supplying intoxicating liquor outside of permitted hours. This was all essential reporting, until the newspaper realised they had got muddled up and it wasn’t the George at Robertsbridge at all, it was the Royal George Hotel in Hurst Green. A profuse apology followed.

However, the Hastings and St. Leonards Observer was able to report in 1926 that the licensee of the George (they got the correct one this time) was summonsed to court for serving a drunk. After the trial at the Hurst Green Petty Sessions, the landlord was though found not guilty of the offense.

Anyway, back to our visit. I must admit to cringing slightly when I see signs from the Good Pub Guide, a book which I find so unreliable to take even moderately seriously.

The pub was clean and organised, with its long heritage as an inn evident, with food, drink and accommodation still provided today. Service during our visit was always friendly, engaging and helpful, although perhaps just a little slow at times, but nothing that proved to be a concern or annoyance.

I was hoping that there would be a more intriguing range of drinks, but it seemed a little limited and the venue isn’t even listed on Untappd, slightly unusual when even the One Stop in the village has managed to get itself listed. There was Harvey’s Sussex Best from Lewes, which is a creditable local beer, as well as what I considered to be an unexciting pale ale. Anyway, it was apparent that this would be a pub most interesting for its food than its beer for me, so extremely unusually, I decided there was nothing for me here drinks-wise.

The fish platter, which was neatly presented and perhaps a brave choice, as some of the ingredients in this can be bland and badly cooked. There were no problems here though, with the quality of the ingredients being high and the cooking seemed perfect to me. The mackerel is smoked locally and had a rich flavour, with the salmon being light and flavoursome. Too often calamari is served so it has the texture of rubber, but it nearly melted in the mouth here, with the salt and pepper squid being very moreish. I could have happily gone though platefuls of salt and pepper squid, which I admit isn’t particularly refined of me. The prawns were also juicy but retained some bite, all rather lovely. The salad was crisp, although it took me a moment to realise that there was beetroot in it, with the relish having a sweet chilli edge. The bread was light and the horseradish mayo wasn’t over-powering. So, I thought it was excellent, with no weak elements, so this was a choice that I was pleased to have made.

I rarely order desserts, but on this occasion, the sticky toffee pudding proved too tempting. I was pleased that more toffee sauce was offered as this was excellent, although the pudding itself was moist anyway and the clotted cream was a decent counterpoint to that.

I feel I’m drivelling on now about food, but it was all excellent and exceeded my expectations. The reviews on-line for this inn are high, it’s clearly a reliable choice for food and I got the impression that if something went wrong that the staff would resolve it promptly. Actually, I find it enormously impressive that an inn can trade for so many years and manage to pick up only two negative reviews on TripAdvisor, of which one seems unfair. So, it’s clear that they’re offering what their customers desire and providing a traditional countryside pub welcome. For a perfect visit, for me (and probably just for me), I’d like the same effort to be put in craft beer and real ale that the inn has put into the wine option.