I first visited The White Hart in South Harting, West Sussex back in July with a cycle pal for lunch. I’d arranged to meet her after I’d been ill for a few weeks and wasn’t quite back to full fitness. We decided to meet in South Harting rather than Compton as it would then force me to cycle back up Harting Hill, something I was not able to do two days earlier. (I’m glad to say that I made it without a problem this time).
Not wanting too much to eat (as we were cycling) we decided upon just a starter and a dessert each. The menu has everything you could wish for, sandwiches, fish & chips, burger, baguettes and more expensive dishes such as the lamb cannon & belly which sounded lovely but fairly expensive at £22.50! Yikes!
Service was friendly and I sat with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc in what I called ‘the snug’, a little room down a couple of steps away from the bar area towards the rear.
We both ordered the duck liver parfait which was beautifully presented and tasted as good as it looked, perhaps even better. The parfait was smooth and creamy with a bacon rasher running through the centre, a tasty jam, a circular piece of something I’m not sure what but I ate it, a thin slice of crispy ginger bread and finished off with a slice of dried pineapple.
I thought the White Hart would be a great place to take Geoff so a few weeks later I did just that. There’s only a handful of parking spaces at the side of the pub but we managed to park on the road opposite. We sat in the dining area which I hadn’t noticed on my previous visit as I had entered via the garden where I’d left my bike.
Geoff had a pint of Uphams which was rather flat, not sure if it was meant to be and he said he would not have that particular one again. The duck liver parfait starter which I told Geoff about was again really very nice. Even Geoff mentioned how nice it was without me having to ask.
Geoff ordered the Upham Ale battered cod which came with a pea purée and chunky chips. He said his dish was ‘on the right side of average’ – which is funny as we’ve just come back from The Bat & Ball in Hambledon and he said exactly the same thing about their fish & chips 😉
My beef burger was lovely and definitely home made. It was served in a lightly toasted brioche bun with celeriac & horseradish coleslaw which was ok but to be honest I would have preferred normal coleslaw and had to ask for some mayo’ instead. The only downside was that it was served on a wooden board and a long thin one at that. The fries were very nice indeed.
Looking at the dessert menu I wanted something different to what I’d had last time, even though I’d enjoyed it very much. I wondered if the Popcorn parfait would be too bananary as I’m not a huge fan of bananas. It was really nice, slices of caramelised banana, small pieces of banana bread, blobs of raspberry coulis, a cylinder of creamy banana parfait and all of this was sprinkled with peanut brittle and topped off with a wafer thin slice of dried banana.
Geoff’s Eton Mess was actually panna cotta – one of his favourite desserts – poached strawberries, meringue and strawberry sorbet. He liked it but he prefers the usual standard panna cotta or Eton mess.
Above are the menu’s – some items slightly on the more expensive side. The Thomas Lord in West Meon – which I re-visited only a few days ago for lunch – is also an Upham Brewery pub and their desserts were £8 so we went across the road to Cuppacheeno for a cake and coffee at half the price. I might pay those prices for an evening meal but not for lunch unless somewhere truly special.
The dining room was very nicely decorated, as is the rest of the pub. Dark wood beamed ceilings with fairy lights above the fireplace and upon the window ledge. On the tables were small vases of roses and burning candles making it look nice and cosy. A mural of a white stag and deer were on one wall, music played in the background. The light holders on the ceilings and walls are made to look like deer antlers, I’m not sure if these were real. Old photos of the village were on the walls which is great, I love looking at the history of places.
However, we did have a few little niggles that made our visit disappointing. A waitress came to clear a table near us and moaned to us about guests picking away at the candles and letting the wax spill onto the tables, how she’d told them to kindly stop it and they threatened to leave, blah, blah, blah; the young waiter singing loudly, ok he was happy; the tables being re-arranged for later and overhearing them say ‘when those guys have gone’ which made us feel as if we were in the way and the most annoying was the telephone which kept ringing. It was on the end of the bar in the dining room and was loud – so too were the conversations, about accommodation mainly – and we found this to be very intrusive. When the waiter brought us the dessert menus I said ‘thank you’ but Geoff was in mid flow telling me a story and because he hadn’t said thank you (the only time) the waiter interrupted him saying ‘Sir?’ holding the menu out so Geoff had to stop talking, take it and say ‘thank you’. Now we are people who say ‘thank you’ about a thousand times per sitting so I found the waiter to be rather rude, he should have just left it on the table. If this had been a ‘common or garden’ pub with normal pub grub and prices we could have let all that slide without a mention but when prices are that high I expect things to be a bit more professional and it put us off a bit.
On saying that, we did like The White Hart, the food was tasty and presented well, the pub cosy and comfortable so we’ve given it the following scores which aren’t bad –
Ambience 8 – apart from the telephone calls
Return? Yes, if we were passing or invited by friends perhaps.
Living life, loving country pubs