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Dolphin, Canterbury

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user reviews of the Dolphin, Canterbury

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Good Beer Guide 2019 Entry and easily the best of the beer from the four establishments visited on our mini break.

TT Landlord in tip top condition - and topped up from a little half glass after pulling. Nice touch!

Seemed very popular with diners.

Quirky interior - plenty of car related metallic adverts and little Michelin men balanced on the dado rails.

Nice experience.
Mappiman - 11 Mar 2019 17:35
Nice place but very food - oriented. Beer choice was ok but not great with only one offering from a Kent micro (Gadd''s) along with the usual boring stuff. Didn''t try the food but it looked great and the service was good. Would return for a meal but not just to drink.
baxterfish - 11 Sep 2017 13:40
Dropped by on my way to the station and dropped by forgetting to check my previous comments regarding the place. The small bit that seemed to be for non-diners was populated by people waiting for their tables and although I had a pleasant conversation with some of them this is a dining establishment where drinkers are tolerated and not a pub. Ale selection was pretty bland Doombar, Taylors etc. (Timothy Taylors must now be one the UKs blandest ales) as was quality with no local brews on offer.
Snarling_Mallard - 13 Mar 2016 13:41
Not a pub as I know it.
its a café/bar/eating place, big wine list, limited draught beer.

I had a pint (568ml) of old rosy cider , £ 4-35.

the first thing the barman says to customers as they get to the bar is
" are you eating "
says it all.
Leftinthepub44 - 23 Dec 2015 15:29
With the snow starting to full quite rapidly the wife and I headed off to pub number 2, the thoroughly modern with lots of old fashioned twists...The Dolphin.

5 hand pumps with 3 ales and 2 ciders on. The ale choices were Sharps Doombar, Timothy Taylor Landlord and my choice which was Ramsgate Brewery Uberhop @ 5.2%. A very good pint and a new one for me. The ciders were both from Westons, Old Rosie and Rosie's Pig.

There's an extensive list of Whiskey, Whisky and Bourbons with a total of 26 listed and all served in 35ml measures. A fact that is proudly displayed!

The 1970's style price board displaying the prices and selections of wine, gin and snacks is superb and something that had me thinking of my childhood.

A very nicely decorated pub with special mention of the collection of Home pride Fred's, Michelin Men & Bertie Bassett's. Some very good advertising signs with an attractive Walls Ice Cream & Champion Spark plugs one at the far end of the bar.

The old fashioned coloured letters spelling The Dolphin above the bar are excellent and in fantastic condition, really adding a nice touch.

There’s a selection of board games available. Food also served but I was a bit early and didn't see any being served.

A very good pub and one I would like to return to.
lezford - 10 Feb 2015 15:01
Quite a frequent visitor to this pub but tonight wasn't happy to see bartender pouring run off into my beer. Happened on two occasions and on second time I asked what she was doing and she said that it was policy, Would prefer fresh beer from the barrel rather than the drip tray.
adamde - 1 Dec 2013 21:34
This gastro-pub is probably more popular as a restaurant than it is a pub, but it does serve good beer. While their cod and chips is consistantly the best in Canterbury, the Gadds Seasider they often serve, is superb and well kept. Timothy Taylor is also good here. Wine is popular and is of a good quality too. What stands out here though is the food, which is always very good, and the pleasant staff. It's one of the only pubs in which I would order a burger. They are pretty outstanding.
Peter, the Landlord, keeps a close watch over everything and has very high standards. You are unlikely to eat bad food or be served a bad pint of beer here unless you're daft enough to order something like Carling Black Label.
The other nice thing about The Dolphin, is to see how much effort they make to look after old (some very old) people. Most come over from the sheltered housing flats opposite. Some come for lunch every day (I doubt they write on Beer in the Evening). At the same time, they do a good job of catering to university students in large numbers every night and keeping them under control. There is a large garden which helps, at least in the summer.
A popular place, especially in the evening. Don't be surprised if you can't find anywhere to sit, but it's busy for good reason.
Primative - 30 Apr 2012 17:44
A good selection of ales. Landlord, Harvest, Incubus and the seemingly ubiquitous Doombar. The Landlord was very good as was the large portion of fish and chips.
Despite the excellent beers this place is as much an eatery as a pub. If you visit in the evening there is a good chance many of the tables will have a "reserved" card on them. A reflection on the popularity of the place.
The staff are friendly and for the most part young.
The clientle is varied in age, gender and nationality.
A respectable place with quirky decorations. I was pleased to see there is still a selection of board games to choose from!
outtamehead - 18 Mar 2012 10:17
Very much a gastropub/bistro. Has Michelin men and Homepride Flourgradrers around the wall along with other periods kitsch. Three ales on and although the Gadds No 5 was drinkable I didn't feel at home in this place. It just doesn't have a pub feel to it.
anonymous - 5 Nov 2011 23:28
30/04/11 11pmish

Probably one of the first pubs where I noted serving Doom Bar - unfortunately I cannot remark on the quality of the ale on this occasion as I had a cocktail prior and disjointed the tastebuds rather. This pub is slightly quirky and forgive but I sense that the landlord maybe homosexual which gives rise to a rather eclectic style which is well received. I hear the food is good and may have eaten here two years ago but cannot recall. What kind of people go in here? Well, it is probably a five minute walk from the City Centre and has the feel about it, that people usually stay for a couple of pints at least. The clientele are well to do but down to earth, more of your decent student type, mild mannered and mature...It's a good well run pub, the youngish landlord can have bit of a sour face at times but it is not offensive. Ales on tap...Doom Bar, Timothy Taylor and one other.....This isn't a great review but I must say that this pub has more to offer the person who likes a good pint in good surroundings, than I have been able to write today.
sefpacific - 1 May 2011 12:46
Visited last Friday and found it to be a really nice place will defo be back for the food as it looked amazing. Only odd thing was the guvnors doll collection whick scattered around the pub
Gunner1 - 1 Feb 2011 09:10
We stumbled across this pub on a Friday night. It was busy but the staff were very accomodating. Great food, great athmosphere and friendly staff. Next time we will attempt to book, as if it hadnt been warm enough to sit in the garden we would have been stuck, but overall a real gem!
ashleigh - 13 Sep 2010 10:10
This is where we come to relax as it's got such a warm atmosphere and the interior is lovely. Can be busy at times so best to come to chill at off-peak times.
JenBen - 2 Feb 2010 23:14
Timothy Taylor Landlord, Sharps Doombar and Gadd's 3 available. A well laid out beer garden. Plenty of friendly staff. And a selection of board games to pass the time of day!
The pub always appears to be busy with an emphasis on food as much as drink with the result that tables can get reserved and not available after a certain time.
I have eaten in the Dolphin 3 or 4 times and it's always been good quality. Not your regular pub grub. Not cheap either!
Overall a very nice pub. Apparently it used to be a bit of a dive but has definately moved uphill.


outtamehead - 23 Jan 2010 05:34
Nice pub but even early in the week (on a Monday evening) was quite crowded and had a lot of tables reserved. Weather wasn't quite up to sitting outside despite the fact that it had been lovely earlier in the day and I think this may have caught out the manager. We managed to get a table and order food at 19:00 but this was on the proviso that we were out by 20:00 (as the table was reserved from then) or moved to a different table at that time. There seemed to be a lot of this going on, we were sat right next to the serving point so overheard several conversations between the waitresses and manager, the latter seemed to be planning his strategy like a military campaign, plotting who he could move where in order to maximise use of the tables. For people like us, who had sat down with the warning about the 20:00 deadline I don't see this as a problem but I could tell that some people who had no idea they were going to be asked to move were being asked to do so and if I was in their shoes I wouldn't have been happy. Anyway the guest ale was good - sorry ale buffs but I cannot remember what it was - and the food was OK but pricey. I preferred the food in The Old Buttermarket which was more homely and cheaper but of course this is probably just my preference for content over presentation. So all in all good and if you can catch it when it is not too busy it will probably be a better experience.
nrj746 - 3 Jun 2009 08:25
A splendid pub. On my most recent visit, a Saturday lunchtime, I had a pint of Gadds No.3 and another of Gadds Seasider, both were very well kept. The food is not the cheapest around but is very good, particularly the daily specials. Staff are friendly, helpful and efficient and overall the place has a really nice atmosphere. I love the genuine logburning fire at this time of year too! Recommended
Dave25 - 11 Nov 2008 12:20
Been in here plenty of times and have never been dissappointed by the beer. Fairly sized with a great beer garden. Have yet to eat there but definitely will do in the next couple of months. Nice staff. Best thing is the games! This is where my friends and I go when we aren't out purely for drinking but want to discuss our recent lectures over a game of jenga. Plus it is immaculate.
Creg - 18 Sep 2008 13:01
Never been in here before but we were welcomed as we walked through the door. Gadds' No 3 was the guest ale which later changed to Gadds' Seasider. Good beer, good food, and efficient, friendly bar staff.
GazzaTheBeerMan - 21 Jul 2008 15:03
The Dolphin used to be one of those places you'd go into while they fixed your bicycle at Durovernum Cycles, across the road, and you'd just hide in the corner with a bad pint of something unspeakable while you kept out of the way of the knife fights and the drug pushers. So, what a pleasant surprise that they managed to turn it into something really good, with a regular line up of real ales and a good selection of reasonably priced food. The garden at the back is well kept and well furnished, and it really has acquired the reputation of a garden with atmosphere; a rare distinction.
RAFsprog - 15 Nov 2007 19:45
Two beers on, doombar and landlord, tried the latter which didn't taste like landlord at all, not impressed for a first visit
anonymous - 25 Oct 2007 16:02
Four ales on, and a well kept beer garden. And handy for the station too... (if you know the back streets)
MankyBadger - 22 Oct 2007 23:21
This is an amazing pub...they have games on the tables for those young childish people. The drinks are not to atrocious in price but the food is sublime and not too pricey.

Service was cheerful and quick. The beer garden is fantastic and will be great in the summer months, so shall have to mark this on my pub crawl list after Simple Simons!
Mazzieboozer - 5 Mar 2007 21:23
This is a fine pub indeed. I have visited on two occasions: once to have a pint and a dessert, and the second to attend the weekly Monday night quiz.

The first time, the only available cask ale was Abbot, which seemed well-kept, although I think there were some bottled ales behind the bar as well. The dessert (chocolate brownie and ice cream) was delightful and actually rather filling at almost 5. Given this, I'd expect the rest of the food that they serve to be very good indeed.

On the second time I visited, there were two ales available out of the three hand pumps: the second was Landlord, which I thought was quite delicious.

There is a large non-smoking area at the back of the pub, which I think is mainly used as an eating area, but I may be wrong, as the whole pub is transformed into a quiz venue on Monday nights for the (rightfully) popular, free nine-round-with-joker "Goataliser" quiz.

This is one of the best quizzes I've experienced, and is very well-organised with a scoreboard updated after each round. My only gripes are that the questions are a little too quick-fire, and there's no picture round. The team next to mine on this occasion were very good-humoured about it all, and this gave me the impression of an atmosphere where I was actually welcome, unlike many other quizzes where the locals are in a clique with the quiz master and seem rather frosty to non-regulars: thankfully, this is not the case at the Dolphin! My team had a thoroughly enjoyable time despite finishing fourth-from-bottom.

It's all done with good humour as there's no prize money - but I admit that I did take it a little too seriously! The prize is a goat for someone in Africa, and the runners-up have the honour of naming it.

There is an extremely comprehensive stack of board games in the main bar area, including a variety of flavours of Trivial Pursuit and a number of sets of Scrabble, meaning that there are plenty of games for everyone in the pub to enjoy at once. Sadly, there was no Diplomacy as far as I could see. I plan to use this pub as a venue for a game of 1000 Blank White Cards at some point in the future.

Toilets are very clean and nice. There is also a beer garden, which I did not experience due to the darkness and coldness of February evenings.

In all, then: friendly and quite cosy atmosphere, friendly staff (as previously mentioned), good beer, plenty of games, excellent quiz. I see no reason to give this place anything less than a 9/10.
crunchysaviour - 1 Mar 2007 22:46
Visited a couple of days ago for the first time in some years and what a transformation. An interesting mish-mash of furniture give the front ( smoking ) bar a nice homely feel. Those interested in railwayana might be interested in the two British Rail posters from the late sixties - early seventies.

Two of the four handpumped ales were available Greene King Abbot Ale, and Timothy Taylor's splendid Landlord - served in its own branded glass. That is something that I've not seen outside Yorkshire until now. No guessing which Ale I chose. The other two unavailable ales were Fuller's London Pride and Greene King IPA.

Service was efficient and cheerful, and at one time I ended up translating for a French family who ambled in looking for lunch. The food did look good, but there was a wake going on in the back bar, and the French were about an hour early for the advertised lunch time serving hours.

For people who like "country wines", there were 24 different fruit wines available ranging from Apple through to Strawberry.

I like this pub, and I'll give it an extra point for being a television-free zone - 7/10.
5thearlofwimbourne - 4 Nov 2006 14:34
very nice pub made to feel very welcome would go again.give it a try
chuckysg1 - 19 Oct 2006 19:55
Superb pub, great atmosphere, brilliant food, friendly staff, ok beers, non-smoking section out the back.
dan_woods - 26 Apr 2006 13:27
Once one of Canterbury's dodgiest pubs, it is now under new management and has been transformed into the nicest. The atmosphere is great, the staff are friendly, the food is INCREDIBLE and so reasonably priced. Plus, there's board games available at the bar and, as if that's not entertainment enough, there's also the weekly quiz with the opportunity to win a goat!
Emma Szpytko - 24 Feb 2006 10:03

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