Review of The White Horse Country Inn, Brancaster Staithe: Pub serves great food, has friendly staff and dogs are welcome too
My last visit to The White Horse at Brancaster Staithe was after a day out at the coast in the early Nineties and it was gratifying to see that after 30 years this delightful pub, restaurant and hotel is still thriving.
Yes, at a time when similar businesses in the UK are folding at the rate of almost one a day, this place on the north Norfolk coast was bustling when my wife and I visited with our two dogs following a Sunday afternoon dog walk.
As soon as we entered, I could tell it was the type of place I loved. We chose to eat in the bar rather than the restaurant so our German Spitz and Chihuahua could be accommodated, and at 4.30pm it was busy.
There were groups of friends drinking and others having a late lunch or early dinner, and many accompanied by their pooches – and twice while we were there a very friendly waiter came round and gave them all treats.
After being shown to our reserved table, in a snug corner, we chose drinks while we looked at the extensive menus which comprised a main one, a vegan one and also one with a choice of wines and cocktails. Josi broke free of her Dry January with a medium Pinot Grigio Monovitigno (£7.40) and I had a pint of orange juice and lemonade (£4.50).
There was lots of choice on the menus and for fish lovers, several local catches. Josi chose the Superfood Salad (£8.50) for her starter and it comprised quinoa, beetroot, broccoli, seeds and cress. I plumped for the Crispy Potatoes (£9) from the vegan menu, which came with artichoke, shallot, caper and leaves.
For my main course, I again chose from the vegan menu and had Chickpea Falafel (£16.50), which was served with rose harissa hummus and dressed leaves, on a large soft tortilla. Josi went for the Cod Loin (£24.50), which came with potatoes, pancetta, and mint.
Josi was too full for a dessert but they were too tempting and I went for the Dark Chocolate and Nut Brownie, with cocoa sauce and blackcurrant sorbet (£8.50), again from the impressive vegan menu.
I enjoyed all three of my dishes. The starter was unique with the potatoes served in one long oblong creation, the artichokes giving off a fresh earthy taste and some gorgeous little mushrooms adding real flavour.
My main was deceptively large and filling, the five falafels full of herbs and spices and beautiful alongside the salad, hummus, tortilla and lovely sun-dried tomatoes. But my highlight was probably the dessert. Sorbets can be quite bland on their own, but when icy blackcurrant melts onto a rich chocolate brownie, accompanied by boozy cherries, it’s a different story. It was wonderful.
Josi, meanwhile, enjoyed her cod (and like me, loved the little mushrooms), but it was the salad she was still enthusing over the next day. She said the combination of quinoa, beetroot and broccoli was perfect, refreshing and overall a great first dish.
With the nearby harbour and associated dog walks nearby, The White Horse is a wonderful place to go before or after catching the sea air, and the four of us will be back.
Ratings out of five:
Food: Very tasty and well presented. ****
Drink: A superb selection. ****
Price: Not cheap but worth the money. ***
Staff: Friendly and attentive. ****
Decor: Warm and cosy. ****