The White Hart, Bouth

While the pub trade might be suffering something of a decline generally, around the Christmas festivities many see a welcome boost in their trade, with parties, get-togethers and general carousing galore.

This is far from a merely urban phenomenon and it is always good to see rural pubs benefitting from the annual boost of festive diners. I and a group of friends were one such group as we headed to deepest Bouth for a pre-Christmas meal in front of one of the White Hart's roaring fires.

Clad in garish Christmas jumpers, five of us arrived at the popular village pub, to find it as cosy and welcoming as it always is in the bleak midwinter. Low beams, traditional decor, stuffed animals, sporting prints and the aforementioned roaring fires, the White Hart has charm in spades.

Arriving in a slight early evening lull, we had plenty of choice of tables, settling close to the fire in the main bar and making haste on the ordering of a bottle of wine. The menu at the White Hart tends towards the classics of pub fare, with daily specials along with the likes of steak and Guinness pie, Cumberland sausage, gammon, steaks et cetera.

For two of our group, the reading of the menu proved a cursory affair: they both love the White Hart's king prawn thermidor (£13.95), a rich and creamy affair, served in a bowl. Two more went for the classic steak and Guinness pie (£13.75), while I chose haddock with minted pea puree from the specials board, which was also around the £13 mark.

The White Hart has been a firm favourite among drinkers and diners for longer than anyone can remember, attracting a solid band of locals who enjoy the conviviality of this traditional inn. Whitewashed and chocolate box pretty from the outside, it's unpretentious and cosy inside, with a popular beer garden area (albeit one which overlooks the car park) for summer imbibers and hardy smokers.

Not having eaten here for a couple of years or more, I was interested to see if the food was as good as I remembered. On the whole, it was. My fish was tender and plentiful, being served in two sizeable portions, lightly battered and (as with all the meals we'd ordered) accompanied by lovely homemade chips. The days of the White Hart vinegar ban - something or other to do with the vinegar fumes affecting the beer - are thankfully long gone, and the pub is now happy to serve this absolutely essential accompaniment to their very good chips. It would be a crime against humanity for them not to. My only complaint was that the batter could have been a bit more golden and a just a bit crispier - but the fish itself was excellent.

The prawn thermidor came in bowls, with sesame-seeded pastry fish as a topping. Both my friends agreed these were slightly smaller portions than they had seen before at the pub - but the dishes themselves were as delicious as usual.

The best dishes were the steak and Guinness pies: earthenware bowls packed with tender meat, rich gravy and topped with crispy pastry: the perfect winter pub meal for my money.

For puddings we sampled a raspberry mess, a calorie-laden affair with meringue and a rich fruity compote, along with a luscious chocolate fondant and ice cream, which produced a veritable lake of molten chocolate when it was broken into. Yum yum.

With lashings of wine to wash the feast down, the bill for five of us came to £150 including a suitably festive tip - good value all in all.


Food 4.5

Service 4.5

Atmosphere 4.5

Value 4


Cosy fires

Classic menu

Charming rusticity


Some of the tables are a bit small