Paul Critcher discovers delicious pub grub and a great atmosphere make for a winning combination in the White Hart hotel in Kingston
There’s a bubbling atmosphere of chat and laughter when we visit the White Hart hotel on a Friday night – it’s Six Nations time and there are plenty of guests staying over in anticipation of the Six Nations Rugby match the following day. But is this landmark of Hampton Wick merely a stopover for rugby fans and other visitors or is it worth the attention of locals as well?
Well, regardless of whether the clientele is here for the rugby or not, the restaurant at the White Hart was nearly full to capacity on our visit, which was encouraging – and there’s nothing better than that start-of-the-weekend atmosphere to make you feel positive about a place.
This cute hotel is built in the Tudor style and the restaurant/bar area has a lovely traditional pub feel with wooden flooring and smart decor with beautifully upholstered comfy seating. The menu is well considered – unfussy, but with something for everyone, ranging from home-made chicken, leek and tarragon pie to fresh linguine pasta with pesto. We plumped for starters of pan-fried black tiger prawns and chicken liver parfait, followed by the Chalcroft Farm beef burger and frontier battered hake fillet.
This was hearty, filling grub that was well cooked and hit the spot. I always favour having the fish on a Friday. My theory is that as it’s a traditional Friday dish, there’s a stronger chance the fish will be as fresh as possible and the chef is likely to have mastered the cooking of it. On this occasion my theory proved correct – the hake was delightful, perfectly cooked with a light crispy batter. The burger too was well received, and although I wasn’t crazy about the mango salsa served with the tiger prawns, the shellfish itself was cooked properly.
It’s not fine dining or even gastro pub style, but the beer is good (Fuller’s London Pride on tap), the staff are charming and if you’re looking for a decent place for friends or family to stay, the White Hart makes a great base for both food and accommodation – check out the bedrooms online, they look lovely.
White Hart Hotel, 1 High Street, Hampton Wick, Kingston
020 8977 1786, www.whiteharthoteluk.co.uk