The White Horse Inn, Neatishead restaurant review: ‘A fine lunch on the Norfolk Broads’
PUBLISHED: 18:00 27 April 2017 | UPDATED: 18:10 27 April 2017
Charlotte Smith-Jarvis enjoys a bank holiday lunch at one of the Norfolk Broad’s best pubs - The White Horse Inn, Neatishead.
We were tired, flustered and really hot when we got to The White Horse Inn. We were in the middle of a boating holiday, had miscalculated the time it would take us to get there by water, and hubby had overshot the mooring (meaning he had to engage in a million point turn).
Although we were over an hour late, staff were really kind and understanding, and found us a table anyway – phew.
After basting in 25C heat, we were totally famished and needed real sustenance. A glance at the menu showed that as well as having a good range of sandwiches, light bites and even a superfood salad, there was plenty of heartier stuff to gorge on too.
To begin, the kids happily chowed down on garlic bread (very garlicky, just how they like it) while we dismantled a nicely assembled plate of beer battered monkfish ‘scampi’. Served (as were the rest of the dishes) on beautiful, rustic earthenware dishes, the ‘scampi’ were excellent. The beer flavour came through boldly without outshining the sweet nuggets of fish hidden inside. And the wild garlic aioli had a clean-tasting, almost refreshing smack of acidity, with what tasted like a snippet of anchovy in there too. Lush.
Mr Jarvis’ appreciative nods and grunts showed he enjoyed the White Horse burger. Piled high with barbecue sauce, cheddar and bacon on a soft brioche bun, it was a succulent and meaty treat, and exactly what he needed after the stress of being captain!
Homemade coleslaw had an interesting herbal flavour. And the handmade chips passed the crispy exterior/soft interior test.
The rosemary and garlic lamb shoulder with basil gnocchi, peas and pesto caught my eye from the specials board. The lamb (which had been slow-braised for hours) was so tender in parts it almost had a pate-like texture, while the outside was charred and smoky. I couldn’t detect much rosemary. In fact, the overriding flavour was ‘cheesy’. On asking a server, I was told the lamb’s stuffing included Parmesan. For me, the strength of the cheese fought against the meat. It would have been absolutely perfect without it, allowing the savoury herbal notes of rosemary to come through instead.
Gnocchi were soft and pillow-like in a creamy pesto sauce. And peas added a touch of sweetness. Take out the cheese and you’ve got a winning dish.
To finish there was a version of Eton mess. A cloud of gloopy, crunchy, sticky yum, turned a delicate shade of purple by its blueberry gel.
The blueberry and lemon cheesecake with verbena curd and berry compote was light, melt-in-the-mouth and soft as cotton wool. Not too sweet either.
And the brownie was absolutely fantastic. It had a deep dark chocolate taste that went just to the edge of bitterness, and was served with orange gel and an utterly sublime honeycomb ice cream that gave over lingering notes of muscovado.
The only pud that didn’t hit the mark sadly was the tarte au citron. Its pastry was well made, and the filling creamy, but there was no discernable taste of lemon, or pinch of puckering citrus sharpness. It needed another lemon or two. The blood orange sorbet with it was excellent.
We were sat in the more traditional part of the pub, with an inglenook fire, bar, and beer mats hanging all about. It wasn’t anything too fancy, nor did it feel like it was trying to be.
The restaurant is another matter. Fronted by glass and with views into the brewery, this is a much more modern space and was pleasantly busy with weekend visitors.
Not only does the pub brew its own beer, but it makes its own gin as well. With a lot of driving ahead, neither of us dared try the spirits (next time!) but there was a very good gin and mix list.
We tried a pint of the Green Devil (beer not gin) which had a good head to it and was citrusy on the nose, opening up with bright hops on the palette and a clean, crisp, bitter finish.
If you appreciate a good pint, add this place to your list.
Despite being rushed off their feet, the ladies serving us were breezy, friendly and helpful. They made sure our water and drinks were topped up regularly and let us know when our food was coming, how long it was going to be etc. They told us there’d be quite a wait, but actually we weren’t hanging around too long before food started coming out.
We paid just over £96 for two starters, two portions of garlic bread, two adult and children’s meals, four puddings, three soft drinks and two beers, which is good going I think – especially in a tourist hot spot.
A cut above for a country pub. Super clean, smartly decorated, roomy and fitted with those nifty fast flow hand dryers.
The monkfish scampi. It was really ace and as a larger portion with fries and a pint there’s probably no finer pub lunch.
This is an unpretentious spot that clearly cares about making good food from scratch and supporting the local producers around it. The menu has something for everyone. And it has a really pleasant vibe.
Find out more about The White Horse Inn, Neatishead here.
You can read the rest of our reviews here.
This is an independent review.