First impressions are important, and opening the door to The White Horse and hearing the buzz of conversation, instantly made me feel hopeful we were in for a good night.
Ade and I used to cycle to the pub, in Old, many years ago for our Sunday lunch. We stopped going once we became stronger cyclists and could venture further afield and after hearing that the landlord had moved on.
I was scared that going back to a place we used to have such affection for might be a bad move; a bit like seeing the boy you used to have a crush on at a school reunion and discovering he had turned into a bald, overweight tax inspector.
I needn’t have worried, although the inside of the pub has changed out of all recognition (in a good way), the welcome was as friendly as ever and I can see it becoming a place we visit regularly again.
The menu features traditional pub grub, including home-made steak burger, pan fried salmon and Cumberland sausages, and there is a chalk board of specials.
I chose the soup of the day, celery (£4.50). It was delicious and creamy with just enough peppery taste of celery. Alyson and Dave both decided to go for one of their favourites, whitebait (£5.50).
Opinion was mixed with Alyson really enjoying the addition of paprika in the coating whereas Dave was slightly unsure. Ade chose the garlic mushrooms (£5.50), a slightly smaller portion than he was hoping for, but as it turned out, that was just as well.
For his main course he had rump steak and chips (£12.95). The generous steak was cooked as requested – medium rare – and came with mushrooms, tomato and a huge pile of handcut chips.
He said it was one of the best steaks he had had in a while, and savoured every mouthful, although, in the end, he was defeated by the chips. Ade’s was definitely the biggest meal.
I chose the pan fried cod with peppercorn sauce (£7.95) from the specials board. The fish was beautifully cooked and the sauce added a nice hint of piquancy. It was served with a generous portion of potatoes and vegetables. Alyson chose one of the vegetarian options, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots in a cheese sauce served with garlic bread (£6.50), while Dave went for the chicken and mushroom stroganoff (£9.95). It was well-presented with a timbale of rice, but perhaps not the largest of portions.
As usual, Alyson and Ade, both of whom have a sweet tooth, decided to try a dessert. Alyson picked the home-made almond cheesecake (£4.50) which she said was fluffy and light, but a bit lacking in almond taste. Somehow finding room, Ade opted for homemade sticky toffee pudding (£4.95). Unlike some sticky toffee puddings that can be a bit dense, this was light and moist and came with a lovely butterscotch sauce.
The White Horse offers good-quality food served with a smile, so if you’ve had a hard week and want to unwind, round up your best friends and head over to Old. You’re sure to leave feeling relaxed and ready for the weekend.
The White Horse
Walgrave Road, Old
FOOD Very good
DISABLED ACCESS: All on one floor but some narrow spaces
COST OF OUR MEAL
FINAL TOTAL: £67.80 (excluding drinks)
Janet’s star rating: 8/10