The White Hart is a 16th century pub found in Witley, a small village in Surrey for those of you, who like me, hadn’t heard of the place before and had no idea of where it was. Despite its age this pub’s definitely pushing the boat out and made the bold choice of veering off the tried and tested route of typical pub fare. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I’m always up for a decent fish and chips or Sunday roast, but if you’re expecting classic pub grub you’ll be disappointed.
We were pointed in the direction of the White Hart by my brother in-law and I can see why, a few years ago the menu became focused around burgers, barbecue, whisky and beer – enlisting BBQ Whisky Beer, winners of Ribstock in 2013 to devise a menu. A number of cultural influences including North American, North African and Korean to name a few have been taken on board, making the menu and interesting read and it doesn’t disappoint. So much so we revisited a few weeks after our first! Not only have they revamped the food menu, the drinks menu causes a bit of a stir too – expect craft beers, flights of whisky and unusually named cocktails, such as Hard Knocks & Slut Drops and Yuzu Nikka. Miso Horny?!
Scallops with crispy pork – a popular combination done well. The surf and turf elements were spot on – it’s hard to fault plump, soft scallops, cooked till barely translucent paired with salty, crispy bacon.
Stunning Iberico pork ribs, juicy and tender with enough charring to add a smokiness to meat that fell off the bone. The pickle on the side working well bringing a little acidity to the plate. They were so tasty, in hindsight I wish I’d ordered the bigger portion!
Spot on beef royale burger; perfectly pink, juicy patty cooked as stated by the waitress on ordering, topped with beef short rib slices which brought incredible smoky flavour and meatiness, a neutral cheese and a pickle to help cut through the richness. For me, burgers need to juggle a balancing act of flavours, juiciness and enough hold so it doesn’t fall apart and make a big mess. There was just the right amount of mess and give in the burger, where you could hold it intact to the last bite.
B.O.T.M – Chinese burns on the beach; a fusion of asian and scottish by all accounts. May sound odd and even read odd on paper, but by all accounts made for a great burger – a classic burger topped with a haggis and black pudding fritter, hoi sin shredded duck, and bunny and fosters cheese. Unlike mine, the burger was a really messy one and definitely needed a knife and fork to tackle the beast.
Chicken shawarma – so much meat, seemed like half a chicken was on my plate, sat on top of a cucumber salsa, smear of hummus and a flatbread. The meat itself was juicy and delicately spiced, my favourite pieces are always the wings, thighs and legs rather than the breast and this was reinforced here. It was a large plate and I couldn’t eat it all, it didn’t go to waste though as the other half was happy to finish it off for me. If I was to fault it, it would be the flatbread, I found it a bit thick and would’ve preferred it on the side with the accompaniments, rather than on the plate where it became soggy from the hummus.
As much as the burgers and shawarma had gone down a treat, I reckon the stars of the show were the beef short ribs, which happen to be winners of Ribstock in 2013. The ribs cooked in a wood smoker were sublime, producing beautifully flavoursome meat where a subtle smokiness allowed the beef’s innate meatiness to come through. All that remained on the plate were two clean bones!
The White Hart’s a great pub and definitely worth travelling to, with its relaxed coach house feel, friendly service and stand out food! I’ll be looking in the diary for our 3rd visit!