Bells and whistles and coffee machines and chrome fittings are all very well but when you visit a pub like the Ivy Leaf you realise a good boozer doesn’t need all the trappings.

This is a refreshingly analogue community watering hole where folk can still pop down the road for a simple pint and a chat at the bar.

Outside and in, the Ivy Leaf is handsome. It’s mock-Tudor outside giving way inside to a fetching brick fireplace, old-style bench seating and black and white pictures on the wall.

Brass pots, lanterns and tankards hang from the ceiling beams and even the doors are old solid wood.

Not that this is a dusty shed somewhere – it is bright and clean and tidy with touches of the modern including a TV (not switched on during my visit) and a slot machine. But it isn’t trying hard to be too fancy, which is a trap a lot of places fall into.

On the bar are taps selling the regular lagers but also a fistful of decent ales including Doom Bar and Sadler’s Mellow Yellow.

When I visited, a gaggle of locals stood casually at the bar happily chatting away the afternoon discussing holidays and the weather. The barmaid, as any good barmaid should be, was integral to the conversation and was obviously well-liked by the punters.

But I felt far from neglected, however. In fact, when it came to ordering my food (nice compact menu of reliable favourites such as baguettes, lasagne and chilli con carne) I felt positive spoiled as she brought over a placemat, which also gave me the kind of feeling that I was eating as a guest at someone’s home.

The Ivy Leaf, Darenth Road, Dartford

How it rated

Décor **** Handsome

Atmosphere **** Friendly and easy

Staff ***** Charming

Price *** About right

Drink **** Lovely selection

Food *** Perfectly decent

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