About a week or so ago I first encountered the delights of the White Hart Pub and Restaurant whilst on “a gentle bimble around the real ale watering holes of Newark upon Trent”. I had made a mental note to return to sample some of their food, and to assist in that aim I had left several copies of their menu lying in prominent positions around the living room. Thus it was that a suggestion was made to “..eat lunch out in Newark and what about that White Hart Place?” ‘Best laid plans of
mice and men food bloggers’ and all that sort of thing.
Outside at the White Hart they have a really good dining area, that is set back just far enough away from the main buzz of the square to make it a relaxed and comfortable spot to sit and eat. At the end of the courtyard just where the passageway re-enters into the square you can see the original White Hart building which is a medieval timber-framed building dating back to the 15th Century. This now houses the Nottingham Building Society.
Right next to to our table was a large chalk board displaying some of the numerous pie fillings that were available. I am not sure quite how fair it was to the rest of the menu to put it so close to my seat as once my eyes had been drawn hyp(pie)notically towards its delightful prose it was really impossible not to decide to get a Pie. It was even more compelling when I found out that there were even more pies on offer as the chef had made a whole batch of pies with exotic meat fillings for the Food and Drink festival. Initially I had been planning to get either the ‘Game and Real Ale’ pie or the ‘Wild Boar and Mushroom’ but then the lady came over and started reeling off the names of the exotics; camel, llama, alpacha and more. Somehow I ended up deciding to get a ‘Camel Pie’ my companion ordered the Game Pie.
At first we were just going to order some pies but then when we found out that the pies were about £11.50 we realized that we could get the lunch meal deal for £12.50 and basically get a starter for just £1 more. That seemed to be a no brainer, well at least financially it was, we kind of forgot that we would then have to eat another plate full of food.
I thought that I had been quite sensible by ordering the Garlic Mushrooms (or rather the “Sautéed garlic mushrooms, salad and fresh bread”) as a lighter starter option. Then it arrived and it was big bowl of creamy garlicky mushrooms which, on its own, was just about the right size. Sadly the large crusty roll and side salad that accompanied those mushrooms was just going to take up valuable pie real estate in my stomach so they just sat by on the plate in the sunshine forlornly for a brief moment in time. Five minutes later they were waving farewell to their mushroom friends before returning back in to the depths of the kitchen from whence they had come. They were pretty tasty mushrooms, simple and very garlicky, just right for me.
My companion ordered the “Spicy chicken strips, salad and fresh bread” which was really quite delicious but way way too big for a starter portion. It was basically an entire chicken breast (a large one at that) cooked in a spiced marinade and covered with some soft spicy bell peppers and onions. This too came with a roll and a salad (the clue was in the title). Great value for the customer but I don’t see much profit for the kitchen with this dish. I had a taste of the chicken and it was well prepared, a moist, tender, juicy breast of chicken and really good fruity and spicy coating that did pack a decent amount of heat.
Starters dispatched it was now Pie Time. The plates of pies came out from the kitchen piled high with chips and vegetables. It was pretty basic wholesome fare, it is probably genuinely rustic if you think of rustic in its true sense as home cooking with fresh ingredients as opposed to the poncy gastropub definition used to add a couple of quid onto the price. There was also a big pot of gravy to assist with the task of eating this plateful
Cutting into the Camel Pie revealed a plentiful supply of chunks of meat. I had not eaten Camel meat before so was not really sure what to expect. The camel meat was surprisingly quite sweet a little bit gamey with a texture almost similar to a cross between turkey leg and beef. The taste was somewhere between venison and mutton. I was glad I tried the pie but that sweetness, although not overpowering, was still not quite right for a savory pie. I have read that often the camel meat is used with a curry flavoring in pies in Australia where the camel roams wild and free in almost pest sized numbers. I can see that would work pretty well. If a hunk of camel meat crossed my pantry door I think that would be my preferred method of cooking.
Both pies looked identical on the plates. We figured that the chef was spooning the different fillings into pastry cases and then baking them to order. The pastry was that good that you just knew it had not seen the inside of a freezer.
The vegetables were really well cooked, just how I like them somewhere between soft and crunchy. A special mention has to be given to those chips. These are probably the best chips I have been served in recent months. Freshly prepared that morning and cooked to order. They were neither over crisp or greasy. A perfect moist potato filling, no additional of unecessary salt in the kitchen. It was nice that they know full well here that we each have our own salt and pepper pots on the table and as grown ups are quite capable of seasoning our food to our own palates.
I could just eat a bowl of those chips all on their own for a meal and I would happily make the drive from South Nottingham across the county to Newark to do just that. That is how good they were.
On the White Hart website they tell us that;
“The White Hart Restaurant offers contemporary cuisine with a choice of fresh seasonal produce that is locally sourced.”
“Lunch or supper here is a real treat – the chef and excellent team serve classic pub food with a simplicity that allows the high quality ingredients to stand out.”
I really like the place, the list of pies that they offer is long enough to satisfy my ongoing pie needs for the foreseeable future, the chips are amazing, the beers are excellent, the staff are friendly and it was really very good value for money as well. Well worth checking out.
The White Hart is situated in the corner of the market place in historic Newark on Trent at 24 Market Place, Newark, NG24 1EG