DRINK: White Horse, South End Green, NW3

There’s been a good level of PR surrounding this new opening, and much made of its new interior and food menu. This pub has had – personally – somewhat of a chequered past. I’ve enjoyed some good lunches and pleasant afternoons here. But I’ve also on other occasions endured nothing-short-of-appallingly-rude service and mediocre food. With The Garden Gate, Magdala, Stag and Roebuck already in close proximity and doing a good trade, what will the new look White Horse bring?

Food has moved from being predominantly Thai, to a ‘pan-European’ menu, and the new chef has credentials from both Bumpkin and, more impressively, the much-loved Albion in Barnsbury, so there’s potential there for sure. They also promise small-scale, local producers, which will rack the prices up a bit but is key if they’re to survive is this area of  enviable choice from good gastros. And, as is still the trend du jour, sharing plates and small dishes will be at the core of what they do.

Having visited recently I can report that the much-heralded ‘refub’ inside hovers around the ordinary to disappointing scale (barely any change, some horrid generic matching chairs and tables, it’s also loud, cold and empty). The menu fares better, coming in at good to interesting – some unqiue dishes and a more relaxed approach to startes and mains that gives you the choice of whatever you want; the food on the other hand was everything from dreadful (wierd smelling octopus, avoid) to wonderful (mushrooms on toast, delish). But, for me, it’s the wine list here that wins. Small but perfectly formed it offers excellent value for money, not least in their wonderful Tempranillo, coming in at around £5 for a large glasss. Also, service was friendly and efficient.

I’d come here for drinks, mainly, when you wanted peace and quiet and a guaranteed seat, but I’m afraid, I think, that’d be it. There’s just better places – such as The Stag (lots of character and good food), The Garden Gate (good space, nice wine); even the Roebuck (cute garden, has it’s moment). I’m sorry White Horse, you’re doing ok, just not as well as I’d like.

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