Monday, 24th December 2018 – The White Horse, Kings Sutton
We stumbled upon the White Horse purely by chance when visiting a bunch of places that were shortlisted for the local food and drink awards, but didn’t visit it because it wasn’t among the places we’d been asked to review. It did sound interesting though, and it had a Michelin star which is rare though not unheard of for a gastro-pub. In October we made an initial visit and were sufficiently impressed that we decided we’d have a second go for our pre-Christmas lunch, which we always try and fit in on Christmas Eve, after A has arrived for the festive season and all the pre-Christmas prep is done.
This time, driving across in daylight, in gloriously unseasonable sunshine, was a lot easier and we even managed to locate the car park! We were seated quite quickly, with a choice of tables, and decided to start with a round of kirs, which seemed suitably festive.
Unlike many of the pubs in our area in the run up to Christmas, there were elements of the Christmas Menu on the White Horse’s December menu but it was a lot more interesting than the usual parsnip soup, turkey with stuffing, and a heavy duty pudding. We started with some of their excellent sourdough bread and freshly churned butter.
While we ate the bread, and drank our kirs, we debated the menu. The chef was in an adventurous mood and was keen to test out an extra starter if we were game for it. He’d made a smoked mackerel scotch egg, which was being served with a dill mayonnaise. The question was did we want to attempt it, especially as there was a main course of duck which also included an egg. Could we possibly be facing such a thing as too much egg? Actually, A and I decided that no, we couldn’t be. We’d give it a shot! It was very well worthwhile, with a crispy coating, the mackerel holding together nicely, and a soft yolk in the middle of it all. I would certainly order it again.
Next up we all went for the duck main course which came in two installments, first a slow cooked duck egg, with a crunchy shard of toast. It was excellent, simple flavours blending well together.
Once we’d finished that, the main was brought to us. This was an excellent duck breast, the skin cooked to crisp perfection, the flesh still tender and pink. This lovely piece of meat was accompanied by some roast root vegetables (carrots, parsnips) and a creamy, rich celeriac puree. It was a big hug of a plateful and we were all more than happy to tackle it with enthusiasm. For a while silence reigned over our corner of the room as we devoted our full attention to the meat. It deserved it, and rewarded our efforts greatly. It also meant we needed quite a substantial pause prior to even thinking about the great dessert and/or cheese debate.
We didn’t help ourselves by ordering the chips as well, but when they looked like this, how could you prevent yourself. They were very good indeed, though nothing will ever be as good as the thrice cooked chips Marcus used to produce at the now sadly closed and gone Vine House, or the fabulous “roast potatoes” that were presented to us at Launceston Place. Still pretty damn good though!
Anyway, the cheese won, at least initially for Lynne and I. We shared a portion of a couple of good, nicely-kept cheeses, served with crisp slices of Granny Smith apple, celery and some home-made chutney. They also came with some excellent home-made crackers, crunchy, thin and savoury.
The trouble was I also couldn’t possibly resist the plum and almond pudding, which was tiny, sweet and supremely Christmassy, while not being too heavy. It was a beautiful way to end lunch, and we drove home in the sunshine.
Once home it was collapse into a heap on the sofa time for most of the remainder of the afternoon, and with no need to cook a meal! A win-win situation.