Lunch Review: Welwyn's historic 'hidden gem'
Food and drink editor Richard Cawthorne finds an enjoyable meal in an idyllic village setting
About the restaurant
The White Hart Hotel is a former coaching inn dating from the 17th century and has managed the difficult task of holding on to its sense of history through successive renovations and updatings, the most recent only a year or so ago. Helped by a peaceful village setting, it is a calm bolthole well worth knowing about.
Atmosphere and decor
A superb flagstone floor and large but out of use ancient fireplace - complete with woodstack - set off the main part of the restaurant and evoke effortlessly the White Hart’s heritage. Numerous wooden beams, plain dark red and cream-painted walls and elegant chairs and tables complete the picture.
A desire to please was evident from the moment we arrived thanks to a waitress who actually smiled in welcome and provided efficient and friendly service throughout.
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The White Hart has a fixed-price lunch menu at �9.95 for one course (or �5.95 if you want only a starter dish) and �13.95 for two. There are five appetisers and 10 mains, although three of the mains carry supplements.
A Wobbly Bottom Farm goats cheese parcel with the intriguing addition of pickled pear and candied walnuts was a treat thanks to its clever mix of flavours. My companion’s jellied ham hock terrine sounded unexciting but was unexpectedly peppery and pronounced excellent.
Autumn had arrived, so venison sausage, pumpkin and butter bean casserole flavoured with sage and topped with parsnip crisps sounded like a really good idea. It was. The use of sage was inspired. Across the table, beer-battered haddock with hand-cut chips, creamed peas and home-made tartare sauce was equally well received thanks to the quality of the ingredients, lightness of the batter and creaminess of the peas.
It’s a clich�, but ‘hidden gem’ springs to mind. The White Hart, with its emphasis on local food and suppliers, is a real find for an uncomplicated and relaxed meal – and only minutes from the A1(M) and London.
The cost of this lunch was �38.65 including two glasses of wine. Service was extra. This is an independent review featuring a restaurant selected and experienced by our food and drink editor. The restaurant was not told it was being reviewed.
The White Hart Hotel
Welwyn AL6 9EN