The White Horse, Haselbury Plucknett
Foodie alert: an unpretentious family-run pub serving truly outstanding food, with a personal touch.
Sorry to everyone who lives in Haselbury Plucknett, near Crewkerne. The secret’s out: the food in your village pub is so awesome it’s just been announced as a runner up for the UK’s Best Sunday Lunch in the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2018. Muddy Somerset’s Annie had lunch there last week…
Is it a pub or is it a restaurant? Locals do pop in for a pint but it’s more of a restaurant. Dating back to the 17th century, it’s just one large, high-ceilinged room, with beams, wooden floors, dangling beer hops, roaring fires at either end – and a very warm welcome from owner Rebecca. Tiny outside space for warmer days.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Welsh husband and chef Richard Robinson (formerly of Oxo Tower, 5th Floor Harvey Nicks) has been honing his menu for six years and incorporates some interesting Italian touches. Having recently returned from Sicily, I couldn’t resist the ‘Sicilian arrancini’ crisp bolognaise and parmesan risotto with truffle and Madeira mayonnaise. So delicious, they honestly obliterated all memory of the original.
Equally extraordinary was the N’duga Scotch egg. The piquante heat supplied by the Italian sausage meat was perfectly offset by the smokey red pepper jam and cool garlic aioli. Better than Heston Blumenthal’s Scotch egg at the Hind’s Head in Bray.
Strong Mediterranean flavours again in the fillet of grey mullet with smoked aubergine and fennel puree. Cooked to perfection with a crisp skin and moist flesh.
The Creedy Carver duck served with parsley root, pickled apple and feta bought us back home to a very Somerset flavour combination, perfect for this season of mellow fruitfulness. Cornish new potatoes in herb butter were served on the side. A glass or two of Spanish Albarino was a good accompaniment to both courses.
For pudding: heavenly crunchy pears in peanut brittle with crème fraiche ice cream and toffee sauce.
The apple crumble with calvados-soaked raisins and vanilla ice cream was a comforting yet luxurious end to the meal.
Pub classics on the menu include mac ‘n’ cheese, beer-battered hake and a Red Devon beef burger both served with hand cut chips. Or how about a 40 day aged 8oz fillet of Angus & Hereford beef with truffled mushroom duxelle and beer pickled shallots? I have a strong feeling that nothing on the menu will disappoint.
OUT & ABOUT
Come midweek and combine with an auction at Lawrence’s Auction House (viewings most Tues/sales Weds), just two miles away in Crewkerne. The Dorset coast is about half an hour’s drive away to the south.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Hand on heart, one of the best meals I’ve had in Somerset. Richard cooks every service to maintain the quality and personal touch and this shines through in the food.
Good for: Foodie couples and friends, somewhere to take your parents (they’ll enjoy the ambience and excellent service as well as the quality of the food). The whole family on Sunday for their hugely popular Sunday roast platters – see our Sunday lunch review.
Not for: Super trendy youngsters (except with parents for Sunday lunch?)
The damage: Moderate. Starters:£6-8; Mains £15-20, Steak £24..95; Puds: £5-7, Selection of cheeses with Special Reserve Port £10. The prixe fixe is excellent value at £16.95 for two courses; £19.50 for three.
Open Weds to Sat 12pm–2.30pm; 6.30pm –close; Sun 12.30pm – 3pm. Note: closed Weds 31 Oct & Thurs 1 Nov. Best to book.
The White Horse, North Street, Haselbury Plucknett, Somerset TA18 7RJ. Tel 01460 78873. thewhitehorsehaselbury.co.uk