The pub is tucked away in the hill side slopes toward Richmond Park and East Sheen. It's also not too far from the main thoroughfare of Richmond town centre, a welcome reprieve from the weekend shoppers who ascend the High Street most Saturdays and Sundays.
It looks like a typical British pub outside but inside it has a slight bookish formality about it with leather and pin cushion seating. Tucked away at the back is an outdoor eating area, and on this day it was unsurprisingly populated by the stroller mafioso.
We were approached immediately by serving staff when we arrived, they were very pleasant and helpful and offered us each a menu that was clipped to big hardback children's books. It suits the old formal library like theme of the pub. The menu had a good range, I like that there was everything on it from salt and pepper squid to beef tartare with quail yolk, burger and triple chips to seared tuna with fennel. Complete at that.
Having recently tried the crab at The Crown in Twickenham (my post tennis staple) I opted once again for the crab and avocado mousse with tomato jelly. The chic geek had the seared scallops with octopus, carpaccio and braised fennel.
Now the crab was bountiful and served in a glass bowl topped with mousse and crisped bread. It had a very clean natural flavour, a peppery finish and worked well with the avocado mousse which was especially creamy. The jelly added an interesting dynamic, but really didn't work well. It was brown in colour, indeed it tasted of tomato but more like a stock, I would have loved a sweeter version or say like a chilli jam, so where I'd hit the skids, the chic geek lucked out.
He'd ordered the scallops and was issued a beautifully presented plate of fare. When I tasted the seared scallops there was an immediate hit of aniseed from the braised fennel and then a good lathering of smokiness. It was deliciously soft fleshy meat and the octopus, tender and light, equally good. It was a faultless delicious dish one would see at any fine dining establishment and a blinkin good one at that.
For mains I once again went with seafood - pan roasted Salmon, peas and runner beans with new potatoes and crispy quail eggs. My counter part had the pan roasted pheasant, stuffed roasted thigh with celeriac gratin, girolles and cherry vinegar pearls.
I thoroughly enjoyed my Salmon with super crispy skin, moist flaky fish and a very decent butter sauce, it actually had lemon flavour. So often Salmon dishes have lemon flavour in the sauce but it must go walk-about, by the time I get it, often its evaporated during the cooking. Nailed it on this one. Potatoes also perfectly waxy in texture, and the runner beans added sweetness. The crispy quail eggs gave the dish a nice visual touch, luxuriousness. Finally the plate was lifted with shoots of coriander leaf, definitely a spoil yourself dish.
The pan roasted pheasant was a served with a stuffed thigh along with girolles and the celeriac gratin - which was sublime. The cherry vinegar pearls had an intense sharp zing, and worked well with the gamy meat. The main pheasant was a little dry, I think a touch salty but the thigh, girolles and gratin were excellent.
The dessert of mango creme brulee with home made cookie came out in a mini pot - the mango was like a tropical puree hidden under the creme. The mango was a little fibrous, nothing to do with the execution but rather the type of mango used (this may have something to do with the more popular Indian mango being recently banned by the EU) it worked nicely with the creme brulee and the crispy sweet top helped make this a scrumptious sweet. It was very more-ish indeed.
Overall, The White Horse has excellent food, a great dining environment with great facilities, and good selection of beers. The staff were excellent. They demonstrated outstanding cuisine with the likes of the scallops and braised fennel and if they continued down that path of presentation, execution and flavour they'd be emulating the best fine dining restaurants around.