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Dining at The White Horse

Dining at The White Horse
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Dining at The White Horse, Woolley Moor

The White Horse conjures up the happiest of memories for us as it was here that we spent many sunny evenings with our children and friends enjoying the spectacular, beautiful Derbyshire countryside and a quiet drink. However, that was many years ago and happily, like our family, it has developed and matured into something of a treasure.

The village of Woolley was flooded in 1958 and the villagers relocated to the hamlet of Badger Lane which over time became Woolley on the Moor, and then to simply Woolley Moor. It is here that you will find the delightful White Horse Inn, built from traditional Derbyshire stone and with hundreds of years of history. ‘The View’ offers 5 star accommodation suites; from its luxury Hypnos beds and spacious en-suite bathrooms, to its wall-wide windows and private patios. But… we were here to enjoy an evening with old friends over a glass of wine and an excellent meal.

We had chosen the White Horse because from the moment you arrive the atmosphere is friendly and relaxing, and the greeting warm. Simply and tastefully decorated we sat in the bar and enjoyed a drink while we chatted about what we were going to order, with both a menu and specials board to choose from. Our friends enjoy fish and the chef always has a good selection of fresh fish dishes on the menu, as well as lamb, chicken, steaks and vegetarian. Locally sourced food is used wherever possible and a local gardener had brought a selection of heritage tomatoes in that afternoon which chef had used to add a new starter to the menu. If like me you’re concerned about ‘low air miles’ it doesn’t come better than that.

Moving through to the restaurant we had homemade sour dough bread with a selection of butters to nibble on.

But first to starters. My choice was the baked goat’s cheese, warmed until it just brought out the full flavour, slightly sour but soft and creamy. Served on a disc of flaky pastry, the delicious fig jam with those crunchy seeds was a lovely sweet contrast. I also persuaded my friend to let me taste his smoked haddock tart, this was so soft and the fish so subtle, creme fraiche with chopped dill was all that was needed to complete the dish.

Local Derbyshire lamb, when expertly cooked is hard to beat and this rump, although cooked a little longer than the chef would have recommended I expect, was sweet and tender. I’m sorry but I just had to beg a taste and it fell apart, I was also intrigued to try it with the basil mashed potatoes and roasted pepper, and they worked perfectly together and made a real change to the traditional mint. The whole dish was brought together with the richness of a red wine sauce.

My own choice was the hake, a lighter dish with a moist deep piece of fish, and mixture of finely chopped herbs covering its crispy skin. It sat on a bed of warm new potatoes and finely diced peppers, red onion and spring onions. The lemon and caper oil dressing was fresh and didn’t over power the fish.

Desserts are where a chef can really allow his artistry to flourish, and the presentation of my hazelnut parfait was superb, with tiny edible pansies and miniature marigolds. It tasted just as good as it looked, not too sweet, nicely cool and sharp from the smooth berry sorbet, and lots of different textures…a perfect finish. If though you have a more robust appetite, (like my husband !) the traditional puddings such as the Bakewell tart and treacle tart are really not to be missed.

The wine menu is extensive as you’d expect and the well-stocked bar boasts Chatsworth Gold and Bakewell Bitter from Peak Ales Brewery. I was reliably informed and noticed that the well-kept beer was going down a treat.

Like fine wine, the White Horse has matured to be one of our favourite places in Derbyshire to enjoy an evening with friends. We thank Dave and Melanie, owners of the White Horse for the last 12 years, and all their staff for a great evening.

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