Country comforts at The White Horse, Whepstead
PUBLISHED: 13:42 15 July 2010 | UPDATED: 11:50 28 February 2013
As many local ingredients as possible are used at The White Horse in Whepstead <br/><br/>says Claire Frank
In harsh economic times, its more important than ever that money made in the region stays in the region, which is why both owners and chef at
The White Horse in Whepstead are in agreement that they use as many local ingredients as possible on their delicious menu
Words: CLAIRE FRANK Photographs: ANDY ABBOTT
The White Horse in Whepstead is surprisingly close to Bury St Edmunds I nearly missed the turning as I headed out, expecting it to be closer to Gary and Di Kingshotts previous highly regarded and award-winning Beehive pub in Horringer.
They were there for the last 25 years but havent moved too far; after spotting the potential in the White Horse; a large and appealing pub with spacious dining rooms, a large sunny garden with shade under bright umbrellas, plenty of parking and wonderful rural footpaths and walks, all handily illustrated on takeaway maps in the pub entrance. After re-opening in October last year it is now fully refurbished with a menu that celebrates all that is local, and when they say local, they mean often supplied from the village itself.
The White Horse has been run as an ale house in Whepstead since 1844. It has a large spacious bar that stocks a good wine list, with many wines by the glass and well kept Suffolk beers. There are open fires for winter and comfortable wooden tables arranged with the sort of mismatched chairs that make you feel instantly at home.
The regular customers all have their favourite tables and I was hoping to book Sunday lunch for all the family at the large square table that seats at least ten, in the pretty and airy Garden room. The second hand books on the shelf there give you several minutes of interesting browsing while you wait for lunch, all the proceeds from their sale going to village hall funds.
At the other end of the building, in the Gallery room, there are regularly changing exhibitions of Suffolk artists to view as you enjoy your meal this time it is Kate Bachelor, an East Anglian marine artist, whose pictures of our coastline with its wildlife and locally built fishing boats light up the room. Charming photographs along the hallway show a collection of white horses and ponies, posing outside the pub, owned and ridden by local people. This leads you to the pubs Tuck Shop the old off licence sales window that now sells sweets and ice creams to those who cant quite fit in a dessert, and to village children who have no local sweet shop.
Douglas Lindsay was chef at The Beehive and is now food manager here. In between, he spent several months in the Pyrenees, perfecting his French repertoire.
I asked him what the essential difference is between French and English cooking. 'Garlic and parsley' he replied. Both of these fresh ingredients and many others can be found in the various dishes on this menu.
Gareth Carter, the pubs current chef is now introducing a new menu each week that will showcase a local producers dish. It is available from Monday to Thursday evenings and competitively priced at under 10. The dish will change weekly but all will have a central theme to support local regional growers and artisans.
The first dish will feature a White Horse steak burger, with Rodwell Farm Suffolk cheese, gherkins and salad and served with Whepstead villager Rosies chilli jam. Other dishes will follow including Suffolk Black cured ham on bubble and squeak with Horringer villager Gordons free range eggs, and marinated twice-cooked Suffolk pork poin, potato and spple salad with grain mustard dressing.
Gareth has always tried to source as many ingredients as locally as possible and always features meat bought from Clarkes of Hartest, a well known local butcher.
Gary Kingshott agrees: In tough economic timesit is important that all money made in the region stays in the region. Customers choosing from the new regional menu not only help small businesses like us, but the money is also passed on to local producers. In any case, more often than not the quality and flavour of local ingredients is better than food that has had to travel hundreds of miles.
And he is true to his word on a board just inside the bar as well as the Regional Dish of the Week, there are starters that include pt with homemade chutney and French bread, or smoked haddock chowder, or local duck egg on toast with sauted Wild mushrooms all at 5.95. And delicious main courses, including seared liver and crispy bacon, over herb mash with a red wine jus at 12.95, or pan fried fillet of bream with saffron mayo at 13.95, and confit of duck with a spicy red cabbage salad at 13.95.
For those who are not so hungry there is a range of snacks such as Gorgonzola tortellini with a rosemary cream at 9.95. On Sundays there is always a roast rib of beef with homemade Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce, served with local roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables, and a fine range of desserts to follow such as rum and raisin cheesecake or apricot ice parfait with citrus sauce.
All desserts are 4.95 and I had a delicious chilled rice pudding brule with rhubarb compte, and wondered whose garden in this lovely Suffolk village the rhubarb had come from.
The White Horse
Bury St Edmunds
Tel: 01284 73576