Food review: The White Hart in Pennington
SINCE taking over the White Hart at Pennington in 2016, Mike Clark and his partner, Laura Pollard, have successfully realised their dream of creating a warm and friendly eatery with a homely feel.
The couple have refurbished the interior and spruced up the outside areas, most recently installing an attractive patio area for alfresco diners. There is even a mini dog brewery serving ‘beer’ to customers’ four-legged friends. As the proud owners of Huskies, they wanted to cater for pets too.
Upon arrival at the White Hart, my dinner companion and I were shown to a table in a cosy spot next to the fire and close to the busy bar area by manager Brian Sullivan and waitress Tania Marreiros.
For drinks, we both opted for one of the four guest pale ales that get rotated fortnightly: I had the zesty Goodard’s Ale of Wight offering while my friend went for a trusty, full-flavoured Ringwood FortyNiner.
From the starter menu the breaded halloumi (£5.95) took my fancy, and proved to be a crispy, light bite, teamed with a hot chilli sauce that gave some added spice, and a colourful side salad.
My companion went for the wild mushroom crostini (£5.45): ciabatta topped with hot creamy mushrooms, which he described as delicious.
What struck us both were the generous size of the portions, and my substantial main did not fail to disappoint.
My New Yorker chicken breast topped with local Lyburn smoked cheese and bacon (£13.45) was a sizeable beast I heartily enjoyed tackling, with the smokiness of the cheese providing a flavoursome kick.
The barbecue chicken burger (£11.95) my companion selected was also topped with Lyburn cheese and served with salad, potato wedges and onion rings. Although thoroughly enjoying his meal, he had to admit defeat in order to leave some space for dessert.
I chose a personal favourite of mine, the sticky toffee pudding (£5.45), which although looking like a rather unsophisticated slab on a plate, was very tasty with a gorgeous hint of ginger and nicely topped off with a helping of silky cream.
A magnificent looking slated caramel fudge cake (£5.45) arrived at the table for my friend, which he described as firmly the best part of his meal.
The pub had a great, sociable atmosphere on the evening we were there, with locals of all ages enjoying food and drink. A noticeable feature was an old-style telephone box packed with board games, should patrons fancy playing Dungeons & Dragons or cards.
Laura explained they are now putting on Sunday evening jam sessions for budding musicians and a guest band supporting an open mic, while Thursday is poker night when players turn up to play for a £10 top prize.
It is part of Redtooth Poker League, which logs the results and invites the best performing to a regional tournament where the potential prizes can get into four figures.
It certainly makes for a busy pub, which is exactly how Laura and Mike like it.
“We love being a local pub for local people, with of course holidaymakers and visitors thrown in,” Mike said.
“We have a really great core of regulars and love being a welcoming, friendly and sociable pub where people can enjoy good food in good amounts and not have to pay huge prices.”
- To be in to win a three-course meal for two at the White Hart, pick up the latest A&T from your local newsstand, and turn to page 25