The Dining Room at the White Horse
Not to be missed - The Dining Room at this superb 16th century inn offers a seasonal menu that's full of flair and originality, with no hint of pretension.
THE LOWDOWN / LOCATION
If you haven’t visited The White Horse in Hascombe, then let it be said – you’re missing out. This award-winning gastropub and restaurant is at the centre of the charming village just a few miles from Godalming, and as well as offering up a superb menu that’s ambitious, adventurous and totally scrumptious, it’s also establishing a reputation among wine lovers’ who come for the impressive and extensive wine list.
The 16th century inn underwent a major makeover a couple of years ago, and is now a superb mix of quality restaurant (The Dining Room) and gastropub that’s loved by locals as well as people who travel from London and other areas further afield.
The pub has three very distinct areas: the elegant Dining Room, the more casual Saloon dining area and the bar. Outside there’s a lovely terrace, which extends to a grassy area with more casual picnic tables dotted among established trees. There are also tables and seating at the front of the pub.
The Dining Room is the posh part of the pub – it’s where the pop-up Dinner Club is hosted once a month, and it’s where the à la carte Dining Room menu is served on Wednesday evenings through to Saturday evenings. The menu changes regularly – but expect creative dishes like venison carpaccio with pickled shimeji, homemade tagliatelle with king oyster mushrooms… that sort of thing. A Tasting Menu is also offered.
The Dining Room is a grown-up and elegant space – tastefully decorated while still remaining true to the pub’s 16th century roots.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Head chef Valentino Gentile is one to watch. As the former executive chef at The Restaurant at Tante Marie in Woking, you’d expect a great menu, and you won’t be disappointed. His food is full of flair and originality, but with no hint of pretension.
He is inspired by Italian flavours, and you’ll see a Mediterranean influence to some of his dishes. There’s also an emphasis on seasonality, with ingredients regularly foraged from the local area.
I visited the The Dining Room on a Wednesday evening, and was joined by Paul and Sorrel Morganti, the pub owners, and Surrey wine merchants Rupert and Felicity Pritchett, from Taurus Wines, who supply The White Horse with its excellent wine list.
We were to be treated to the Dining Room five-course tasting menu – with a specially selected wine flight. I’m excited to dig in.
We started with lobster linguine croquettes with a romesco sauce which was served with a crisp and delightfully subtle Ferghettina Franciacorta Brut Rosé. Fun fact: this rosé comes in a square bottle invented and patented by Ferghettina, which as well as looking rather smart also increases the flavour of the wine during maturation.
Next up, it’s a quail egg with a potato crust, a parmesan cream and ham hock scattered with pretty rosemary flowers. And the wine? Zind Humbrecht Pinot Blanc from the Alsace which had a lovely creamy texture that complemented the egg perfectly.
The third course was salt cod brandade with a nettle, leek and potato velouté – I didn’t want this to end and happily moped up what was left of the dressing without actually drinking it from the bowl. The wine was Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, a delightful crisp New Zealand white.
Next it was roasted poussin breast with summer truffle tortellini, morels and wilted baby spinach – washed down with a Domaine Roblet-Monnot Volnay St Francois. It was an interesting choice for the wine as I wouldn’t have thought to pair a red wine with chicken.
Pudding was apricot iced parfait with white chocolate and toasted almond which we enjoyed with a glass of Astley Late Harvest, an English dessert wine.
The Dining Room is a kid-free zone (at least for the little ones under 10), but the Saloon dining room and certainly the garden is the perfect spot for families.
OUT & ABOUT
If you fancy something more invigorating than a stroll around the village (the Victorian St Peter’s Church a hundred metres down the road from the pub is worth a peek though), there’s a three mile circular woodland iFootpath walk that encircles Hascombe Hill and starts just across from the pub.
The National Trust’s Winkworth Arboretum is just a mile away – and well worth a visit at any time of year, but especially when the bluebells are out.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Foodies will love The Dining Room. It would suit a special occasion, groups of friends getting together or couples looking for a romantic dinner for two.
Not for: It’s very much a sedate village pub with a strong emphasis on good food and good wine – so possibly not the venue for slamming down sambuca with your craziest friends.
The damage: The Dining Room menu starts at £8-£11 for starters, moving to £16-£26 for mains and £7 for puds. A six course tasting menu is available in The Dining Room for £45 a head.
The White Horse, The Street, Hascombe, Godalming, GU8 4JA. Tel: 01483 208258. whitehorsepub.net