Review: The Dining Room at the White Horse, Hascombe
For superb high-end restaurant food in a gorgeous relaxed country pub setting, head to The White Horse. You won't be disappointed.
There’s no shortage of great gastropubs in Surrey, but The White Horse in Hascombe takes things a step further serving up superb high-end restaurant food in a gorgeously relaxed setting. I’ve been a big fan for number years – so this is not the first time I’ve reviewed the pub. But it’s been a while – so when when pubs reopened I was back there quicker than you can say ‘table for two, please’.
If you haven’t visited The White Horse, then it’s got to be said – you’re missing out. And I’d strongly urge you to remedy that.
You’ll find this award-winning pub and restaurant in the centre of Hascombe village, just a few miles from Godalming. It’s a charming pub – built in the 16th century – and it’s very cleverly managed to achieve the near-on impossible and be all things to everyone, staying true to its origins as a pub for locals, but also attracting visitors from London and further afield who travel for the superb menu.
The pub also has a well-deserved reputation among wine lovers who come for the impressive and extensive wine list – much of which is available by the glass.
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 popular pop-up Dinner Club is hosted once a month, and where head chef Valentino Gentile’s five-course taster menu is served in the evening from Wednesday to Saturday. There’s also a regular a la carte menu which includes a range of choices from beer battered fish and chips and 28 day sirloin steak alongside creative dishes like teriyaki glazed aubergine with a shitake udon noodle stirfry and mid-cuit salmon with variation of beetroot, vierge sauce and horseradish foam.
The Dining Room is a grown-up and elegant space – tastefully decorated while still remaining true to the pub’s 16th century roots. It’s bright and airy in the summer months with doors that open out to the terrace, and in the winter the wood fireplace means it’s warm and cosy.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Head chef Valentino Gentile is one to watch. The pub has won the coveted Muddy Award for Best Destination Pub for three years in a row, and Valentino was also crowned Surrey Life Chef of the Year. 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.
For my latest visit Mr Muds and I were joined by the pub owners Paul and Sorrel Morganti for lunch on a Friday. There was a cool buzzy vibe going on inside – diners obviously happy to be out again. We were in the dining room – it was a day of rain – but had the sun been shining, the terrace and garden would have been glorious.
It’s asparagus season, so I (in fact all four of us) couldn’t pass up the char-grilled asparagus for my starter. It comes from Secretts of Milford, just a few miles away, and is served with a crsipy quail’s egg, leeks and truffle mayo. It was superb.
Moving on to mains, I was tossing up between the pan fried sea bream with an fennel, endive and orange salad and a tomato and Nocellara olive salad and the teriyaki glazed aubergine. I love fish, so the mid-cuit salmon also caught my eye. The sea bream won it for me (and Mr M, too), but happily Sorrel chose the aubergine and Paul went for the salmon so I got a sneak preview of all three. And I wasn’t disappointed – the food was as good as I remembered.
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, special occasions, date night, meals out with friends.
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 £7-£10 for starters, moving to £12-£25 for mains and £7 for puds. A five course tasting menu is available in The Dining Room for £37.50 a head.
The White Horse, The Street, Hascombe, Godalming, GU8 4JA. Tel: 01483 208258. whitehorsepub.net