On St Georges Day in 1642 conspirators met in an upstairs room of Ye Olde White Harte and plotted to bar King Charles from Hull, an act which sparked the English Civil War. More than three hundred and fifty years later, people still meet here, and although the discussions are likely to be less serious nowadays, the character of the surroundings has endured. But is this well-known establishment trading on reputation, or is it really worth a visit?
Approaching the pub down an alleyway from Silver Street, the first-time visitor might be surprised by the strange contrast of an olde worlde beer garden with all the modern trappings, where retractable umbrellas and an outdoor heater share space with hanging baskets and centuries-old architecture. If the combination doesn’t quite work from an aesthetic point of view, you can at least appreciate the thought behind it: all weather outdoor seating is a must in these post-smoking ban days.
For those happier to drink indoors, the entrance to the pub lies through a thoroughly unwelcoming black door, but as long as you're not put off by this portal, you will take a step back in time to how a pub used to look before chrome-infested bars became the norm. Dark wooden beams, bars and benches lend an authentic historic atmosphere, from which the twenty-first century is barred. Don’t expect slot machines or pumping music, Ye Olde White Harte has been around since the mid-sixteenth century - and you can tell.
Tucked away off a main thoroughfare, Ye Olde White Harte attracts both passing trade and a loyal core of regulars, leading to a variety of drinkers - although the younger end of the spectrum can often be sparsely represented. Two downstairs bars leave room for groups to socialise without disturbing those who would rather relax in quiet nooks.
The regulars ensure the pub is rarely empty, and the atmosphere benefits. Although the bar area can be crowded, the efficient staff don’t let this stop them from pulling pints promptly. Their friendly and knowledgeable service means you won’t feel like an imposter in somebody else’s local.
The beer can make all the difference in an establishment of this ilk, and Ye Olde White Harte doesn’t quite make the grade. Unless a guest ale is on sale, draught bitter drinkers can choose only between John Smith’s (£2.35 a pint) and Theakston’s (£2.60 a pint), both perfectly adequate pints, but nothing out of the ordinary.
The beer may lack distinction, but it is fresh and expertly poured, and this extends to the lagers (Kronenbourg - £3 a pint) and ciders as well. The spirits are various and well-stocked, and wine pours from the optics as well as small bottles (starting at £3.20).
Prices are reasonable for the city centre, depending on your tipple, so you can at least be sure you won’t have to break the bank.
The Last Word
Ye Olde White Harte does almost exactly what it says on the tin: it’s old, and it has certainly got heart. Unfortunately, it lacks real ales, and could be too quiet for some tastes. But on the whole, those in search of a good, traditional Yorkshire pub won’t be disappointed.