Monday 24th March 2014
It was an unseasonably sunny day as I walked from the railway station to this micro pub, passing on the way the ancient abbey church that gives the village its name. I arrived just on the stroke of midday and peered in through the windows. Actually, to no avail as the pub was empty and the door securely bolted. I needn't have worried however, as a couple of minutes later owner Gary Hake arrived and let me in.
First impressions do count for a lot and here they were very favourable. There is a lot of wood used in the decor and furnishings. In the middle of the room there was a tall table with fresh flowers on it. I settled here and looked at the blackboard with the beer and cider list.
The selection of beers were Potbelly Brewery (Kettering, Northants) Best Bitter (3.8%); Canterbury Brewers (The Foundry brewpub, Canterbury) Kentish Pale Ale (5.0%) and Titanic (Burslem, Staffs) White Star (4.8%).
There were three ciders from Weston's (Much Marcle, Herefordshire) Rosie's Pig (4.8%), Old Rosie (7.3%) and Family Reserve (5.0%). From a little nearer there were also two flavoured ciders from Dudda's Tun Cider of Doddington, Kent. These were Dudda's Spiced Cider and Cheery Old Dudda's Cherry Cider.
I took a look around and observed there were also two low tables either side of the entrance door and one at the back of the room. These had a mixture of small padded bench seats and stools.
The small bar is on the left at the rear and from it a door leads directly to the cool room. Gary explained that this was very small with just enough room for six firkins of beer and some cider boxes. I had a look and it was very cramped.
He told me that he'd had a rather torturous time setting up the pub in what was formerly a hair stylist's salon. There were toilets already in situ at the rear of the pub and he had hoped to keep them in use but the landlord wanted them for his own use so he had to construct one unisex facility inside the pub along with a very small kitchen area. This is why the "cellar" is so tiny.
The walls are decorated with posters, mirrors, photographs etc. One photo shows the dog from which the hair came from! Actually, no! I told Gary that I liked the shelf that is along three walls of the room. He said it was very handy when the pub is busy and although some of the patrons might have to stand there was somewhere secure to place their glasses. High up on the walls there is a display of pump clips from the beers already served here.
Snacks are of the normal pub sort with crisps of the Pringles variety along with pork scratchings and nuts including Guinness flavoured cashews, now that's first! I also noticed what looked like a lonely picked egg in a jar, although it might have an onion! Gary said he wanted to expand the food offered to include pies, scotch eggs and cheese boards. He mentioned that he had been given the highest hygiene rating by Thanet Council.
There are wines offered and some non-alcoholic drinks are served including fruit juices and various coffees such as Cappucino, Latte and Expresso. I noticed there were dominoes available and a choice of boxed board games such as chess, draughts and Snakes & Ladders. Even though the pub had only opened its doors for the first time on Friday 6th December it has a nice comfortable feel about it and I know I'll be back to visit again.
The Hair of the Dog, 52 High Street, Minster, Kent, CT12 4AB. Tel: 01843 823466
Open: Monday to Saturday 12.00-15.00, 17.00-21.00; Sunday 12.00-15.00
Bus services to Minster are erratic and irregular. Route 11 runs from Canterbury to Broadstairs with buses every two hours, sometimes with larger gaps. This route runs from Mondays to Saturdays only and the operator is Stagecoach.
The other route is the 42 that runs every 90 minutes or so. This connects Minster with Ramsgate and Margate. The operator is either Stagecoach or Carol Peters. This also runs Monday to Saturday and not Sunday.
Easily the best way to get to Minster is by train. There is a minimum of one train each hour Monday to Sunday at regular intervals through most of the day. The service is operated by South Eastern and the trains come from London Charing Cross via Tonbridge, Ashford and Canterbury West. They continue to Ramsgate. It is possible to come from London St Pancras on the Hi-Speed train and change at Ashford into the local service.