With its iconic white horse statue standing outside and long-standing relationship with local artists, Leamington pub the White Horse has been popular with both drinkers and diners for a long time.
The establishment, located at the top end of the town centre, has recently undergone an upgrade, with a sleek new interior and updated menu, so I was curious to see whether the change was for better or worse.
Arriving on a weekday at noon, my husband, daughter and I were the first to arrive for lunch and were greeted with warm smiles by manager Rachel Langley, who kindly provided us with a highchair and kids’ menu for the little one. We were immediately impressed by the romantic yet chic décor, with fashionable low-hanging lampshades, comfy leather armchairs in soft and neutral hues and pretty but simple fairy lights towards the back of the pub. This end has been dedicated to artwork depicting Leamington’s ‘jewel’ - Jephson Gardens. The paintings are on a large scale and impressive to view.
It wasn’t long before we were joined by other customers popping in on their lunch break and we felt relaxed, surrounded by gentle chatter, sipping on drinks (nice and smooth flat white coffee for me and one of a good range of craft ales for my other half). The menu is wide-ranging and features the pub classics, such as burgers, fish and chips and pie, as well as more decadent restaurant-style mains and salads for the health conscious. I went for the brie tart with black grape, sherry and caramelised red onion chutney (served on the side, I was pleased to note), which came with attractive purple British heritage potatoes and tenderstem broccoli. My husband chose the flat iron steak with creamed potatoes, tenderstem broccoli and bone marrow sauce. The cheese in the tart was oozing and delightful; the pastry very short and delicately flavoured with herbs; the sauce sweet and savoury at the same time and the broccoli perfectly al dente. In a word: delicious. My husband’s steak was slow-cooked and so melted in the mouth - very easy for our 16-month-old daughter to enjoy as well - and the sauce was dark, deep and full of flavour.
Without any hesitation, we accepted the dessert menu: I ordered the Kentish Bramley apple and almond slice, while my husband went for the pub classic, sticky toffee pudding. Both were generous and served warm and with a scoop of vanilla pod ice cream. The slice was a cross between a Bakewell and apple tart, so if you like both of these (as I do), this is just the ticket. We could really taste the dates in the sticky toffee pudding and it ticked all the comforting, warming, naughty and satisfying boxes that such a pudding is surely meant to do.
With quick and friendly service, a varied menu offering food just as high a standard as many of the fine dining restaurants in the area and a relaxed and romantic ambience, this new-look White Horse is even better than the already popular pub it was before and I will certainly be returning there before too long.
White Horse, Clarendon Avenue, Leamington. Tel: 01926 426892.