Open Sun–Wed 9.30am–11.30pm; Thu–Sat 9.30am–midnight
The style & crowd:
Long known as the Sloaney Pony, The White Horse’s terrace, overlooking Parson’s Green, is always packed with locals as soon as the sun shines and our Sunday evening visit was no exception.
It’s a traditional boozer with paint peeling from the ceiling, a dominant central bar and a mix of seating, including church pews, chesterfields and button-back leather chairs. There’s a pretty dining area at the back but it was empty during our visit so we took a pew near two middle-aged men drinking a pint with their fish ‘n’ chips.
It’s probably best to stay traditional and go for the well-known BBQ or familiar pub fare. However, we started with white onion and cider soup with sour dough bread and butter (£5.50); and pan-fried scallops, crisp black Combe ham and a cucumber, tomato and mint dressing (£8.25). The soup was a little on the heavy and bland side, while the scallops were overcooked.
Sadly, our mains fared worse. My kale, cauliflower and cheddar tart with heritage potatoes and baby leaf salad (£12.50) reminded me of standard supermarket fare. In particular, the tomatoes were tasteless and the underdressed salad looked rather forlorn. Again, my friend’s dish—pan-fried salmon fillet, asparagus and heritage potatoes with wild garlic pesto (£15.25)—was overcooked.
At least our dessert, a generous portion of dark chocolate brownie with vanilla pod ice-cream (£6.25), was satisfying—gooey and rich.
Service was friendly and the pub was packed. However, the drinks, terrace and the convivial atmosphere are most likely what draw the locals rather than the food, which is probably why the restaurant area was empty.
Boasting eight cask ales, including Adnams Broadside and Harveys Sussex Best Bitter, plus 135 bottled beers from around the world, this is the place craft beer enthusiasts go to (even visiting Americans say that The White Horse offers beers you can’t find State-side). Unsurprisingly, the pub hosts several beer festivals throughout the year.
There’s also a good selection of old and new world wines, including 20 by the glass, from which we chose a subtle pink, La Vie en Rose, 2013, (£6.15 for 175ml).