Sunday 12th January, 2020 – The White Horse, Kings Sutton
As it was my birthday, and I didn’t want to do any cooking (much as I enjoy it normally) we decided it would be good to head out for lunch somewhere not too far away. That meant I was looking at no more than 20 minutes in the car regardless. A table at The White Horse in Kings Sutton was very much in order, even if they do run a separate Sunday lunch menu, something I would normally avoid like the plague. However, the White Horse does things very differently. Which is just as well – I dislike the Sunday roast offering most places do, with their pre-cooked and reheated vegetables, and soggy roast potatoes, none of which hold much appeal. You won’t find anything like that here.
The chef at The White Horse, Hendrik Dutson-Steinfeld, would no doubt be horrified by the idea, and that was why, despite the menu being somewhat truncated on Sundays, I was happy to drive out to Kings Sutton, which is really is in the middle of nowhere, happy in the knowledge that we were likely to be very well fed indeed. It was a brilliantly sunny day, and the drive across was pleasant if a tad white-knuckled in places, especially when the sun was in my eyes as I tried to navigate some of the narrow lanes around the village.
We have been before, but it had been a while (over a year in fact). We parked up close to the pub as we now know where the car park is, and we were soon inside and settled in the dining room with the menu in front of us and a kir royale to help the thought processes.
Some study was needed, and a bit of discussion as we finally decided what we would have. In the meantime, bread and butter arrived, which gave us something to enjoy alongside our aperitifs. The make very good bread, but we both tried not to eat all of it before we’d even thought about the next stage of lunch.
The starters were easy enough, with the idea of Oxford blue cheese with a red wine poached pear, pickled celery and walnut dressing proving sufficiently irresistable that we ordered one without too much hesitation. The pear was beautifully done, with none of the woodiness you sometimes find in pears. The cheese was nicely sharp, acidic and went well with the sweetness of the fruit. All we needed was something to contrast with it.
The ideal second starter was a fabulous, smooth duck liver parfait which came with a fig and cherry chutney and a home-baked brioche. The fig and cherry chutney was magnificent, with a texture from the fig flesh that worked well against the parfait, and the sweetness of the cherries was just the right side of sour.
We ordered a bottle of wine to try and match against everything we were intending to eat. The list is on the short side, but it is interesting, and I was pleased with my choice when it arrived. It was a very enjoyable
2012 Rioja Santiago Riserva from Marqués de la Concordia, with plenty of body, smooth and rich.
It went well with the starters and even with the fish and chips, pea puree and tartar sauce that Lynne felt we needed. The fish was nicely done, with good crisp batter, and although Lynne doesn’t normally care for peas, she did like the puree, finding it to be lacking the usual textural issues that she has with most pulses and legumes, including peas. I liked them too, but then I do like pulses and legumes and I don’t often cook them at home, because if I’m the only one eating them, there’s not that much point in spending time on them when I could instead cook something we’ll both enjoy. The chips that came with the fish were also properly good, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside just like you want them to be. It was sorely tempting to order a second lot, but that would have been unwise, unless we wanted to waddle out of the door at the end of lunch and then spend the rest of the day lying on the sofa sleeping off the food baby!
Besides, we had the fillet of Newbottle Farm beef with bone marrow, beer braised onions and White Horse chips to get through, and this was not small. It carried an £8 supplement, but it was worth every single penny of the supplement, a piece of tender, perfectly cooked meat that melted in the mouth. It was so good I forgot utterly to take a photo of it so you’ll just have to take my word for it! The red cabbage and the green cabbage that came with it were thoroughly enjoyable too, and the sauce was excellent.
Having worked our way through the mains neither of us could manage a full dessert, so we decided we would share the cheese selection. This brought a well kept chunk of Godminster Cheddar, a piece of Rachel’s goat’s milk cheese, and come Cotswold Brie. These arrived with a fig chutney and some home-made biscuits, and went nicely with a glass of Sauternes, even if the waitress had no idea how to pronounce it or what it was! She was lovely but possibly needed a little more training. It didn’t matter that much because she was willing, helpful and very keen to help so you can forgive a lot.
And so, lunch completed, we slowly meandered home and didn’t need to eat anything for the remainder of the day. We really mustn’t leave it so long before we go back again to the White Horse.