For my birthday meal, we decided to go somewhere new. The White Horse in Otterbourne has recently reopened after a change of management and it's on the route home so it seemed ideal.
The taster menu on their website looked good, although I'm not sure they win any points for using fractions in their prices. When we arrived, the restaurant was fully booked so we took a table in the bar, which they were happy to accommodate. The menu wasn't the same as on the website so I assume they use seasonal produce and change their menu accordingly.
Ian and I both wanted the black pudding fritters, but as it was my birthday, I got them and Ian went for the goats cheese with poached pear. Of course, we were just going to share them both, so it didn't really matter. Both starters were really good, I was expecting the black pudding fritters to be more like sweetcorn fritters, but instead they were more like battered black pudding. A little greasy, but this was balanced out with a good amount of leaves and apple puree.
Ian's starter was quite similar to the starter at our wedding (which I really should blog about!) although the goats cheese were inside little balls, which sort of melted when you bit into them (that's not a bad thing, it was quite nice). The caramelised walnuts that accompanied it were good, but Ian didn't think the pears were 'peary' enough.
For mains, I went for duck confit with a white bean and chorizo cassoulet. Now, let's see if you can tell what I'm going to say just by looking at the photo.
Yes, that's right - it's a bit, erm, lacking in the colour department. The cripsy shallots on top really helped the cassoulet along, because it was quite boring - the chorizo really didn't shine like chorizo should. When we cook chorizo (for we, read Ian), it's a lot more vibrant and the flavour oozes out. This didn't seem to be the case here. It's a shame because the starters definitely made our expectations a lot higher.
Ian's main was fish and chips in an ale batter with smashed minted peas. The batter got increasingly aley as you got further through the fish, which was a bit strange. Ian tipped his chips onto his plate and although good chips (thrice cooked apparently), there just wasn't enough of them.
Overall, the meal was a little disappointing, mainly due to the inconsistency of the food between courses. The pub itself is nice and cosy, and has plenty of high backed chairs and seems like a good place for a drink after work. It was quite lively when we visited, but it was a Friday night.