The Rochester Hotel
The Rochester Castle Hotel was once a dive bar and sweaty live-music den. When Bridgitte and Jon Costelloe (owners of Vic Bar, Aviary Hotel and Dr Morse) revived it with a new lick of paint and dropped "castle" from the name, they kept the good aspects (a stage and DJ platform in the bar area) but smartened up the menu.
Katie Marron and her resident kitchen, Miss Katie’s Crab Shack, moved on to Ding Dong Lounge in 2016. Since then the show has been run by Matt Wilkinson (the owner of Pope Joan) and Steve Rogers (ex-Movida).
Their menu is packed with simple, well-executed pub classics which occasionally speak of Wilkinson’s English heritage. See: lamb vindaloo with roti; and the fish pie with broccolini, peas and cos lettuce. Elsewhere there’s a spiced lamb burger, steaks, chicken Kiev and seasonal pastas.
It’s counter service throughout and there are 10 beers on tap, plus a rotating menu of cocktails. In summer the leafy courtyard is the place to enjoy a drink.
On Thursday nights head for the Green Room upstairs, where there’s free popcorn and stand-up comedy from established names such as Lehmo, Tom Ballard and Greg Fleet.