I’ve lived in Canterbury for over 20 years and until last month I had never been to The Parrot, a pub/restaurant in the city centre; however, I have now been twice in the last month. The Parrot is a Shepherd Neame pub. Shepherd Neame is an independent brewery in this part of the country, having been in operation in the market town of Faversham for over 300 years. They currently have over 300 pubs in London and the Southeast. Booking is advisable.
The Parrot is said to be the oldest pub in Canterbury but I think that just means it’s the oldest building that is a pub premise, having been built over Roman foundations in the 14th century, at the same time that Canterbury Cathedral was under construction. It was originally called Radigund’s Hall, named after the monks of St Radigunds from Bradsole near Dover who owned properties in this area. In 1937 it was a row of 7 cottages that were declared unfit for human habitation but due to its important architectural details from the 14th century it was saved and renovated as one property again and became a club for girls. Then from 1960 to 1970 it was used for some classes by Canterbury College of Art (my sister used to do printing of fabrics there). In 1987 it became a pub and was called Simple Simon’s until 2008. It is located in a picturesque street and right in front of the pub are the remains of the Roman city walls. The interior has some lovely historic architectural details – there are medieval beams and old timber floors. On the ground floor there is one long room with several tables for dining and also a bar; on the first floor is a large medieval function room/restaurant that I haven’t yet seen but there’s a fine roof with brackets and crown posts as you would expect in a hall house of that period. Outside at the back is a large brick and paved courtyard with tables and chairs which must be a lovely place to eat or drink when the weather is warm.
I thought the staff were friendly and efficient. When the pubs reopened following lockdown Shepherd Neame, to be cost-effective, simplified their menus so all the pubs have a few dishes that are common to all their properties although seaside locations have more fish and seafood choices. At The Parrot the prices are reasonable and include, predictably, burgers, fish and chips (in two sizes) and pies. There are small plates at £5.95 to £6.25 and main courses range in price from £8.95 for a small fish and chips to £14.95 for maple glazed pressed pork belly. There’s also a selection of sandwiches on the menu. On my first visit I chose the pork belly but there was just too much meat for me so the next time I’d have liked to try wild boar raviolini but there was none left so I had a small fish, chips and peas which was so nice I regretted not having a large portion. The beer is said to be good but I can’t comment on it as the only Shepherd Neame beer I ever drink is Whitstable Bay, which is a Pale Ale.
The Parrot is a short walk from the centre of Canterbury – along Palace Street and Northgate – but St Radigund’s car park is only about 100 metres away and is large, although the parking fee is £2.30 an hour so it’s cheaper to use Canterbury’s Park and Ride service which costs £4 a day for a car with up to six people. I will certainly eat at The Parrot again but there are still a few other restaurants I want to try before I return.
“See menus and opening times”:https://www.parrotcanterbury.co.uk/