Restaurant review, The White Hart, Blythburgh: “Slow service but worth the wait”
- Credit: Archant
We tried a selection of this pub’s classic dishes.
The early May Bank Holiday couldn’t have been more perfect could it? The weather was glorious and so, like many others, we descended upon the Suffolk Heritage Coast for a spot of crabbing in Orford. Beforehand though, there was the question of lunch, and this pub, perched on the Blyth Estuary had been calling out to me for a while.
The menu is flipping enormous. I mean – it takes in iffits (a type of tapas), snacks, starters, a range of burgers and grills, and even goodies from the on-site smokehouse. That’s not to mention the chalkboard of specials.
Feeling ravenous we greedily asked for a platter of bread while we waited.
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Generous it was too, the board barely visible under chewy crusted slices from John at Penny Bun Bakehouse. It came with decent olive oil and balsamic, cool unsalted butter and a welcome surprise in the form of baba ganoush. It wasn’t anything like the baba I know (a smoky, silken Middle Eastern aubergine dip) and had the texture and taste of a thick, cool, spiced daal. But it was very moreish indeed and lapped up with relish. We thought that was a nice touch.
We were told as we sat down that lobster and prawns were off (something to do with the smoker I think) so it was curious that my platter of house-smoked and cured fish came with a pot of the things. Alongside them – Adnams Blackshore Stout cured salmon, mackerel pate, hot smoked salmon, salad, bread and lemon mayonnaise. I didn’t have to ask for a finger bowl, it followed the meals out promptly. And I needed it sharpish as I tore into the prawns, ripping the sweet little suckers from their shells. The cured salmon, for me, didn’t deliver what the menu promised. I couldn’t detect any stout at all. But it was well made, delicate in flavour and had a wonderful, almost dry-cured texture. The hot smoked salmon was flaky, rich and sumptuous. And there was tonnes of pate, which was creamy and spiky and didn’t overtake the rest of the platter. I liked that the salad was properly made and dressed too.
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The pub’s Adnams Beer Burger sounded like the thing dreams are made of on the menu. Beef patty, Broadside and mustard cheese sauce, Ghost Ship fried onions and beer cured bacon, all in a seeded brioche bun. We rated it around a seven on our self-created burger scale. It was evidently made with high quality ingredients but a few things would have made it a proper cracker. Firstly, the burger was cooked-through which made it a tad dry – we like ours a little pink and juicy in the middle. The cheese ‘sauce’ was a slab of cheese on the cusp of melting. If it had been running down the sides, oozing cheesiness, it would have stopped the burger being dry. The onions and thin rashers of bacon were a joy though, and the bun was excellent, as were the flaky hand cut chips. It was so nearly there.
Our final dish was Emmerdale Farm roasted sirloin of beef. And I have to say, this sits up there amongst some of the most cracking roasts in Suffolk (I’ve tried a fair few). Three huge, thick cut slices of beef, gnarly and Marmitey on the outside, and rose pink in the middle. A giant Yorkie. Creamy cauliflower cheese. Real roast potatoes (not deep-fried pretenders). And a separate plate with extra gravy (always needed), and seasonal vegetables that had been seasoned well and cooked to al dente perfection. Well worth the £14.50 price tag.
We didn’t stick around for pudding as it had been a long wait for the rest of the meal, but (aside from slowness) we thought this pub had a great deal to offer and we’d like to go back to try the puds.
Being an Adnams pub there was quite a range of the brewery’s classic beers on show at the bar. There wasn’t a wine list on the table and we weren’t offered one – a shame as I’d have liked a glass of vino, but I instead plumped for a glass of cool Aspall Cyder.
This is where I felt the pub was let down. The initial welcome at the bar where I enquired whether there were tables free was a little frosty – a smile and hello wouldn’t have gone amiss. Once I found the server in the dining area she was friendly, but crucially didn’t advise us on waiting times, which it turned out, were deceptively long considering the amount of tables inside that were empty. I do think if the wait on main courses is going to be over 40 minutes, that diners should be advised. That said, it was still service with a smile.
This is a gorgeous pub inside and out, with a traditional bar area, capacious conservatory style dining room, and tables spilling out onto a huge garden, with resident goats and geese, and stunning estuary views. There were a few grumbles from other diners on wait times, but on the whole the atmosphere was great.
The loos themselves are a bit – excuse the pun –bog standard, but we appreciated the lotions and potions. And they were spotless.
The pub is pretty open plan and seemed easy enough for wheelchair users to navigate. There is a lot of gravel outside so we’d recommend your designated driver drops you off close to the entrance.
Food is on the pricier end for a pub. The bill for pork scratchings, bread, three main courses and four drinks came to just under £70.
The roast. We’ll go back for that and will remember it when we’re travelling out that way again on a Sunday.
Yes, service was slow, but what I think should be applauded here is that the kitchen team didn’t cut corners or compromise on the quality or cooking of the dishes to rush them out. Everything was well presented, seasoned and cooked with care. Was the burger perfect? No, but just the tiniest of tweaks would have gotten in there, so all is forgiven.