EATING OUT IN HARPENDEN 2018

 

The White Horse - New Summer Menu

What could be nicer on a warm evening than to sit on the patio with a glass of chilled champagne at The White Horse in Hatching Green before dinner with my wife. We were welcomed by Jules the deputy manager who selected our table in the partial shade.


Jules told us about her restaurant background and the importance of cooking with quality food - fresh fish is bought every day then cleaned and filleted; the best cuts of meat are used as are fresh fruit and vegetables. Unusually for local restaurants they also have a pastry chef so deserts and puddings are made in the kitchen. Being conscious of customer  reactions they consulted with some of the ‘regulars’ on what dishes they would like to see on the summer menu and included a number of these ideas.

















Already hungry our appetites were whetted when we looked over the menu whilst sipping champagne with a few olives. Just then Maddi arrived with a board showing the day’s specials, all of which were clearly explained. The new look Summer Menu  featured some superb dishes packed with the light, fresh tastes of the season - wonderful British soft fruit, tender young green vegetables, tomatoes and sweetcorn. Leading in were a Veggie Board and a Deli Board both of which offered 4 options. Next up were 7 starters and salads, 7 mains plus 3 steaks and a fish blackboard. Concluding with a finale of puddings and cheeses. NB. You can also enjoy the best, native lobsters when they make a welcome return to the pub between 19th July and the end of August.


With the champagne almost finished  we turned our attention to the Drinks menu...a refreshing pitcher of Peach Gin-gria made with Tanqueray gin, Briottet Crème de Pêche, Chenin Blanc and soda that's  light, fresh and peachy and perfect for summer drinking. If gin's your thing, the pub has a large selection of Grand Gins plus a range of white, rose and red wines carefully segmented into style types, several of which are available by the glass. I ordered a glass of Macon - Charnay Chardonnay and my wife had a glass of Percheron Chenin Blanc Viognier.


Back to the food. We were spoilt for choice, eventually ordering a mix from the specials and the main menu. Whilst waiting we enjoyed the atmosphere on the patio with many ‘locals’ and their ‘posh’ dogs idling away a gorgeous evening.

Both our starters arrived...the Moules in a delicious creamy sauce with a large crusty roll for me and the roasted vegetables for my wife, perfectly cooked al dente style with a pesto dressing. A great start.
















Then the mains: A filleted grey mullet on a bed of peas, beans and cavallo nero for me...superb. My wife’s vegetarian lasagna  comprising courgettes, peas and ricotta looked stunning with a toasted topping. Unfortunately the topping concealed a centre that was lacking in texture, a touch too creamy and unseasoned. A topping of toasted parmesan would have helped!


Finally the puds: My chocolate fondant with raspberries tasted lovely but it was served in a shallow ramekin so the experience of spooning it open to see melted chocolate was not going to happen. My wife’s strawberry iced parfait with cream and a mint compote was rather over frozen masking the taste of the fruit.
















Rounding off the meal with an expresso for me and a fresh mint tea for my wife.

Service was exemplary throughout.


The pub has a large car park and a beautiful garden which is used for special events like  The White Horse's Gin Festival on Saturday 30th June where there was a succulent hog roast to enjoy alongside a fully stocked bar in the garden with special appearances from some of the pub's top gin suppliers as well as a few special guest gins.











The White Horse is on Redbourn Lane, Hatching Green, Harpenden, Hertfordshire AL5 2JP. Keep a look out on the pub's website www.thewhitehorseharpenden.co.uk for details of forthcoming events and to book for lunch or dinner, please call 01582 469290 or email thewhitehorse@peachpubs.com.

Ron Taylor. Editor

Tough times for restaurants

Eating out locally just got much tougher! Tried to book table at Brasserie Blanc in St Albans only to be told they had closed the St Albans location. And Jamie's Italian in St Albans has also closed. And Carluccios will be closing in December 2018.


New in St Albans

The Ivy Brasserie have opened in the Brasserie Blanc location.

The Abbey have opened in George St.

A superb service from all the staff/

left, Maddi;

centre, Jules

right, Ellie

Harpenden’s Cote Restaurant. Review Sat June 23

As an award winning restaurant* my wife and I were looking forward to having dinner on a late June evening. Stepping inside you see what a transformation has taken place, from the old post office to a smart French style restaurant. And being a Saturday it was already buzzing with business. Choosing a centre table at the far end it enabled us to see all the ‘action’ taking place with guests arriving and waiters doing their work. And work they did!  With genuine smiles, attention to detail and top notch service.















Our main waitress ( Star) for the evening brought the menus along with complimentary glasses of Kir Royale. She explained the many specials on offer and left us to peruse the menu whilst we sipped the Champagne and set our taste buds alive with a dish of mixed olives.

There was a large choice on offer from light summery mains to many fish and meat dishes cooked ‘french’ style  plus several 30 day aged steak options. They have made wine selection easy with a number of ‘recommended’ ones by the glass and the bottle. If you are comfortable choosing from the main list then there are some exciting ones available.

I chose a glass of Chablis, being a good partner for fish.


With so many delicious items on the menu it took us some to decide...

When our starters arrived we were more than pleased. I had smoked salmon served with dill, shallots, baby capers a crème fraîche dressing and lightly toasted sourdough. The full flavour of the salmon contrasting nicely with the savoury elements. My wife, a vegetarian had the seasonal english aspargus with a holandasie sauce. A classic early summer dish.














Then the mains: I had roast sea bass fillets with braised fennel and a champagne beurre blanc, chives, tomato concasse and a sprig of watercress. The balance of flavours were exquisite with the fennel adding a subtle overtone. My wife’s choice, a classic french dish of roasted vegetables on a bed of lentils looked superb. Sadly the perfectly cooked vegetables concealed an overcooked mush of unedible lentils. Calling over our waitress she agreed that a replacement was needed. The chefs were quick to rectify the problem and new dish was returned with a side dish of Dauphinoise potatoes. Much improved.


Finally the desserts: My wife adores Creme Brulee provided the top is brown and crunchy. Voila, it arrived but a little over dark. I had the Crepe Chantilly with strawberries and a chocolate sauce.

















Rounding off the meal with an expresso for me and a fresh mint tea for my wife.

Service was exemplary throughout.
















The menus are changed regularly with seasonal offers and there are deals for early diners and ‘Prestige Set Menus.

The restaurant is centrally located in Station Road and has built a solid reputation since it opened pre Christmas.  Booking at weekends is advised and can be made via their website. Reservations: cote.co.uk, quandoo.co.uk

Phone: 01582 957391


Ron Taylor. Editor


*The Harpenden Society Letter of Commendation for 2017. Côte Brasserie restaurant in Station Road was nominated for the Award by Society members and the Awards committee who said ‘it has enhanced an otherwise dull building with attractive awnings and window boxes’.

Chefs: Celina, Mohammed and Marius

Team: Sofia, Danny (the Manager) Star and Pedro