Lunch at: The White Horse, Harpenden
PUBLISHED: 16:12 28 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:47 20 February 2013
A new owner serves up a treat for food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne in Harpenden...
About the restaurant
Well known as a former Jean-Christophe Novelli outlet, the White Horse has recovered from its recent history and been taken over by Peach Pubs, equally well known in Berkhamsted and area for the way it has transformed The Old Mill.
Atmosphere and decor
Peach has opted for the bright and colourful approach, with lots of sunny colours and the walls of the restaurant festooned with entertaining past menus from the likes of the Savoy and Le Caprice.
With a new product to boast about, the young and enthusiastic staff hand out a cheerful welcome with an efficiency that suggests careful training.
Anyone who knows the Berkhamsted operation will recognise the basic structure, to which experienced head chef Neal Sealey has added touches of his own, with a noticeable emphasis on freshness and seasonality. Watch for herb pancakes or chilli and lime-spiked fishcake as examples.
The temptingly-titled superfood salad of feta, peas, broad beans and pearl barley with a soy and lime dressing (6.75) turned out to be a winner and a refreshing start to the meal. It is available with or without Cornish mackerel (I went without to leave room for what was to follow) and as a main course at 12.10. Our second starter, a Cornish crab cocktail with guacamole and highly-commended mini tacos (7), was also demolished with great enthusiasm - smooth, sweet and delicious were among the milder comments.
Roast of the day is one of the innovations introduced by Peach at the White Horse and on Saturdays that means free-range pork with summer vegetables (11.50). My partner found nothing to complain about, especially since a decent helping of crackling was included. Inspired by the superfood starter, I opted for pan-fried Welsh sea bass with fennel, apple and potato coleslaw and summer-leaf salad (15), which was exactly as good as it sounds.
A tasty and traditional lemon posset with lime syrup and ginger biscuit heads a tempting list of summer puds, all at 5.50. It was a good choice and so was the trio of champagne and elderflower sorbets and salted caramel ice cream, which came with chocolate and multi-coloured sprinkles and strawberry, caramel and chocolate sauces.
Maybe it was the sunny weather on the day we were there or the newness of the place or the obvious enjoyment of the other customers, but our visit to the White Horse turned into a fun and enjoyable occasion, a shining example of what can be achieved with good unfussy food and service in the right atmosphere.
BOOK A TABLE
The White Horse
Harpenden AL5 2JP
The cost of this lunch was 64.60 including two large glasses of wine, plus a service charge. House wines part of an adventurous list are from 14.75.
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