Muddy eats: Sunday lunch at The White Horse, Haselbury Plucknett
What’s your favourite Sunday roast? Beef? Pork? Chicken? I can never decide, so when a friend told me about the Sunday Sharing Board – where you can have it all – at the Michelin Guide listed The White Horse, I immediately booked a table for Sunday lunch.
The White Horse is a 17th century coaching inn in the village of Haselbury Plucknett, close to Crewkerne in south Somerset. The inside is traditional: just one room with a small bar in one corner, a squashy sofa and armchairs in another, country-style tables and chairs, wooden benches with some rather sumptuous cushions and dried hops hanging from a beam.
Outside there’s a small but pretty courtyard with a couple of tables.
Owners Rebecca and Richard Robinson both worked in high end restaurants and hotels in London (5th floor at Harvey Nicks, Orrery in Marylebone, the Sanderson in the West End, etc) before taking over The White Horse in 2012 – and it shows: the food is excellent. The menu’s a mix of fine dining (British, French and Mediterranean dishes) with classic pub food, all cooked from scratch and of course, locally sourced.
So let’s get started. Everyone gets homemade focaccia and hummus as a matter of course.
Then there’s a choice of six starters, four of which are fish or vegetarian; all were tempting. My grilled mackerel and tiger prawns resting on a tangy caponata with lemon and parsley looked a delicious work of art served in this colourful bowl.
My companion chose the beetroot, goats cheese, cider poached pear, pumpkin seed and walnut salad – a large, perfectly cooked portion.
There were eight main courses – five meat (including BBQ whole baby chicken, pressed ham hock), two fish (both hake: one battered, one fillet) and for veggies, a Bath Blue arancini with fresh peas, broad beans, poached pears and walnuts. Then there’s the choice of three Sunday roasts – and of course, the Sunday Sharing Board, which is what we ordered. The 9-hour, slow-roast belly pork had melt-in-the-mouth meat and crisp but not rock hard crackling; the 40-day dry aged roast beef was pink and thinly sliced; the chicken breast was succulent – and just look at the size of those Yorkshires.
Roasts all come with duck fat roast potatoes and a selection of BBQ Mediterranean veg – fennel, courgettes, peppers etc – with some French beans and crispy kale, making a nice change from the standard carrots, peas and broccoli. There was more than enough for two people and it’s incredibly good value at only £12.95 a person.
There was really no room in the Muddy tum after all of this but I know you’ll want to see the desserts (choice of six plus a selection of cheese – hard, soft, blue, goats). We spurned the pistachio crème brûlée with orange cookies, summer berry and brown sugar meringue mess, in favour of the lemon posset with blackberry sorbet and granola, and the peaches with jelly, amaretti and almond…both very good choices.
The food was excellent and the service was efficient, helpful and very friendly; the waiting staff really knew the menu and were happy to check with the chef when I had a query about one of the dishes. On the pratical side, it’s best to book to make sure you get a table, especially at Sunday lunchtimes. There are only a few spaces in the pub car park so you have to park on the street. Overall, this is a fab place to come for a relaxed Sunday lunch with superior food – and well worth making the effort to drive out here.
The White Horse is open for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Saturday 12pm-2.30pm and 6.30pm-close and for Sunday lunch 12pm-3pm. If you want to come and just have a drink (West Country ales and ciders as well as wines) but then get the munchies, there are some interesting sounding bar snacks, like Imam Bialdi, crisp goat’s cheese, Oxford Sandy and Black pork rillette, cornichons and toasted bread or mussels in beer with rosemary and thyme focaccia.
Good for: families and friends (it’s very low key and relaxed, there’s a kids’ menu with chicken and fish goujons, sausages, etc for around £5.95 or they can have smaller portions of dishes from the main menu); foodies (this is not your usual pub grub).
Not for: those who like to eat in designer surroundings – this is a village pub; families who’ve got kids who want to run around – there’s only a courtyard garden.
£££ Reasonable – Sunday lunches especially so. A la carte menu starters £5.95-£7.95 (£15.95 for two sharing charcuterie; mains £10.50-£15.95; sides £3-£3.50; Sunday roasts £11.95-£13.95 (incl veg); Sunday Sharing Board £12.95 per person; desserts £5.95-£6.95; cheese selection £6/£9. Weekdays and most evenings until 7.30pm there’s a prix fixe menu £16.50 for two courses; £18.95 for three. Bar snacks £4-£5. Wine £15.95-£68.50.
The White Horse, North Street, Haselbury Plucknett, TA18 7RJ. Tel 01460 78873. thewhitehorsehaselbury.co.uk