New menu at White Hart Hamstead Marshall – a winner

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Oh I am such a lucky person. I was invited by The White Hart to test their new menu and what a wonderful menu it was. The photos are above. The starters were new season English asparagus with a poached egg and Serrano ham with micro herbs. We nearly came to blows over whether the egg should be included (of course it should, it adds a dippy egginess that is perfect for the dish) so I hope they keep it. Also served was a beef carpaccio, the beef had a peppered crust and was incredibly tender and came with radishes, a basil jus and micro herbs. Also served was a potato and goats cheese terrine filled with peppers and very tasty with the zingiest salsa ever, it was just perfect. That also came with bread and may be my favourite starter although the asparagus (with the egg, Darren!) is fighting for first place.

The main courses we tried included the most amazing rump of lamb. This was served with basil mash which I have to admit looked a bit disconcerting as it was green but tasted fabulous. The lamb was perfect and came with the most delicious jus and teeny tiny chopped vegetables including courgettes and peppers. They were amazing and I am not a vegetable raver. Even more amazing was the thin line of dried chopped olives. They had an intense flavour so you didn’t need much of them but boy they added something special to what was already an amazing dish.

Next came my also favourite (what on earth am I going to do when I go back as I get severe and aggressive plate envy, thus have no close eating friends). It was pork tenderloin, often a dry dish but not here, served on confit heritage carrots sitting on bubble and squeak which contained home cured ham and shallots with cabbage. It had a jus on the side which some people liked and some felt wasn’t needed but I guess I feel that if it is going I will have some. The meat had been steamed and was juicy and succulent, hard for that cut but perfectly executed.

Then came steak and chips. Good old steak and chips. I do often have it in a restaurant I am unsure of as I can consider it as a benchmark. It was perfect, the steak was cooked in a sous vide then flash fried to get the maillard effect but then, even better was covered in a thin layer of juice, sticky perfection, a sauce that had been reduced to almost jam which gave it an incredible taste. The chips were thrice cooked (I hate that term, they were cooked three times) in a goose fat oil and were seasoned to perfection.

Then came the chicken ballontine. The chef, Darren, explained that it hadnt quite worked, I appreciate his honesty and am sure it will work in future, but tasted really interesting. At first I wasn’t so keen on this dish but it grew on me as I ate it. It had all the elements, soused onions for bite, the earthiness of the range of mushrooms (don’t change those Darren, you were so right in the way they fitted in), the creaminess of the chicken and the most amazing dressing of lemon, lime, lavender, honey and thyme which developed as you ate the dish until you wanted to lick the bowl clean (I was in company so I behaved). It came with heritage tomatoes and Devon potatoes.

Pudding started with a strawberry tart with clotted cream ice cream. This was a layer of pastry, then crème patisserie and strawberries in a strawberry jelly. It was going to have a tweak by putting in more crème pat and strawberries which will improve it but it still tasted good.

Next the most amazing Black Forest Gateaux, thing layers of chocolate sponge filled with chocolate mousse and two sorts of cream, one with kirsch running through it. It came with a quenelle of red fruit sorbet sitting on a pile of chocolate mousse and a chocolate covered cherry. Totally lovely.

Oooh now my favourite, we can call it panne de perdu or eggy bread. It is a slice of brioche, caramelised wonderfully, covered in peaches and a basil sauce and clotted cream ice cream. Seriously I could have eaten all of this (except the peaches – I don’t really do peaches or cherries) and I think I nearly did, dear other tasters, I seriously apologise but would do it all again. This could be a seasonal dish so have berries or raisins or whatever the season tosses up. It was scrummy.

Finally, phew, there was a de constructed banoffee pie, the banana was caramelised, it came with chocolate sorbet (so rare) and a very bananery parfait. Not my favourite but others loved it

I cannot wait until quiz night on the 5th which is such a good excuse to eat. We always lose because we are always eating!

For the record I was not charged for this tasting session.

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