Saturday, 12 September 2015

THE WHITE HART - Hambledon Road, Denmead

Updated 9/9/18

After a Summer hiatus, we decided to start things off with a refresh and revisit mission. The chosen target was The White Hart in Denmead.

There is plenty of parking here, and plenty of outdoor seating in a pleasant pub garden. However for this trip, we decided to take a table indoors. We sidled up to the bar, all casual like, and procured some cold, fizzy drinks. The word that popped in to my head to describe the service was abrupt. Not bad, but certainly not warm and welcoming.

The specials board was advertising meals for just £6. This would generally leave us feeling slightly wary, but we have eaten here plenty of times, and had expectations of good quality food. Dad jumped straight in to said specials board, going for the bubble and squeak with sausage and gravy. Yes it did say sausage, not sausages. This spurred my Dad to enquire as to the number of sausages to expect. Turns out it was two, but it's always worth checking. For my part, I went for something a bit different. The apricot and goats cheese nut roast with vegetables.

Let us briefly touch on the pub fundamentals before the food arrives. The temperature was good, the music was present and of an acceptable volume, we have already touched on the service, and the pub itself is a good size and a generally nice place to be. Now back to the food.

Let's begin with the meal from the specials board. It was exactly as advertised, plus one sausage. The bubble and squeak took the form of a cake, and was joined by some gravy. We now enter the grey zone of pub food. It's hard to argue with anything when you are getting a feed for £6, but the two sausages and a squeaky cake, just looked a bit lonely, like something was missing. It was all tasty enough, but we thought that a spoon full of vegetables would have eased it out of the grey zone and in to bargain land. My nut roast was pretty good, but then I do love anything with goats cheese on it. I also had a nice selection of vegetables including carrots, parsnips and leeks. If you like your carrots well cooked, these ones may have bothered you, being on the just about done side of the vegetable spectrum. Much like Dad's meal, I thought the addition of a few little potatoes would have rounded off the plate nicely.

We do like this pub, both in the Summer eating outside season, and the Winter cosy pub months. The food is undoubtedly good, and you can't grumble about a £6 menu. We just thought a few added items to certain plates would make a big difference. And as is always going to be the case, warm and friendly service is the least you should expect when paying to eat and or drink in a pub. On the whole, we have found this to be a reliable pub, serving above average food, and we weren't put off returning at a later date.

Atmosphere 8
Service                 5
Food           7.5
Value          7.5
Verdict                 4*

Previous review.

My Dad couldn't come out to play this week, so I was joined by able deputy, my brother Tom. The sun was out so I thought it would be nice to get out in to the country. To the best of my knowledge I have been to all the pubs in Denmead, but haven't reviewed any of them yet, so we aimed for The White Hart and set forth.

I remember this pub being refurbished several years back, but unlike allot of pubs I've been to after a "Refurb", this one made a significant difference. It's beautifully done out, managing to fuse country pub with contemporary class. I also know the food has always been pretty good and it has a beer garden.
We followed the usual routine of drinks, menus, find a seat, in this case outside, we were even given a little basket containing cutlery, condiments and a wooden spoon. The first thing to say about the menu at The White Hart, is that it is the best sounding menu I've seen for a while. You have your pub standards, but there are also more unique meals on offer, including good vegetarian options, I was tempted by the vegetable and stilton crumble. One thing on the menu interested me above all else, they have started selling freshly made pizza's. Me and Dad have often discussed why more pubs have never got in to pizza. Everyone loves them and the mark up is huge.

When it came to ordering, me and Tom were finding it tricky to choose, so I made a suggestion which broke the first rule of manly food etiquette, we shared. I was curious to find out how good their pizza was, but I'm always up for as many different things as I can fit on one plate, two if necessary. We finally decided on BBQ chicken pizza with added pineapple and sweet corn, and a chicken burger with chips, salad and coleslaw. When the food arrived we got very excited. The menu didn't specify the size of the pizza, but we had no need to worry. The portions were good. When it came to splitting, it was easier than we had anticipated. The pizza was already sliced, and the burger was made up of two chicken breasts. My brother simply cut the ample bun in half and then there were two.

As I said, I remember the food being pretty good here, but this was right up there with the best. The pizza was brilliant, loads of topping and plenty of cheese. Now I know this may upset some people, but I think Domino's are rubbish, absolutely crap. The King of Domino should take a trip to The White Hart and see what a pizza should be like. You might not be able to get it delivered, but it's nearly half the price and a hundred times better. I'd rather pay £9 and go out for a quality pizza than pay £16 to get a crap one delivered.

The burger was also impressive in taste and stature. A big old bun held two chicken breasts, both cheesed up, garnished with lettuce and onion, we were both delighted to note no tomato. At first glance, we thought the prices may have been one or two pounds over the odds, but after seeing the quality and size of the food they may be well within the margins. Most of the mains seemed to be just under £11, although the pizza's were between £8 and £9, very reasonable indeed.

This pub is a real jewel in the Denmead countryside. A beautiful looking pub serving top quality food. A nice place for a few drinks or for a good meal. The White Hart has shot up in my estimation and I won't hesitate to put it up there with the best pubs I've visited.

Atmosphere  9
Service        8
Food            9
Value           8

Verdict:         5*

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