The White Horse is a Geronimo Inns pub, a company with successful food-focused pubs across the capital. This is their first site in the City and it goes for a look currently popular amongst pub operators, offering a country-esque haven in the heart of the Square Mile.
The White Horse occupies a snug corner in the pedestrian-only Exchange Square. If the outdoor patio is a safe haven from the City bustle, the inside feels like a country retreat. The décor, eclectic and elegant with its demure earthy colours, is a mix of English cottage and American log cabin: unpolished wood covers the floor and blanched or ash colours are also employed on the walls. The mix and match of furniture is seemingly casual but includes several arty features: a marble cafe tabletop; a wooden table made out of an antique door; wall benches covered with cushions fashioned out of coffee sacks; and vintage and contemporary chairs. The floral wallpaper sets the space apart from dark mix-and-match gastros, truly delivering a countryside feel which is elegant but still leaves space for things that don’t match.
The White Horse has a buzzy, lively atmosphere and the pub clearly attracts the fun City crowd, more interested in social catch-ups than business talk. In fact, there are less formal shirts than you would expect. The soundtrack is a bit too loud but contributes to the buzz.
The ingredients, recipes and presentation are typical of a gastropub, although The White Horse has a refreshingly casual approach towards food. A highlight from the starters (£4-£8) is the perfectly smoked salmon blinis served with a dollop of sour cream and capers. Equally good is the radish and broad bean salad on a bed of hummous with Berkswell cheese.
The mains (£9-£16.50) include traditional fish and chips but you should try the monkfish, instead: the portion is generous and the bed of spring onion mash is complemented by the rich peas and bacon mix. For veggies, the autumn vegetable cobbler is a comforting option, although it lacks a bit of flavour. Desserts (£4.50) offer traditional British puddings, such as a tasty yet light crumble.
There are no cheap, low-quality beers at The White Horse. Instead expect Duvel, Vedett Blonde, Leffe, Meantime Wheat, Coopers, Peroni and Steinlager amongst a very astute selection. Prices are in the region of £3.50-£4 per pint. There’s plenty of cider available too (£3.60-£4.80), with Aspall, Savannah, Rekordelig and others. Wine is also abundant with forty bottles (£14-£27 or £3.70-£5.70 per small glass and £5-£7.80 per large one) to choose from, and no less than twelve champagne and sparkling wines (£23-£215).
The Last Word
Secluded and intimate, The White Horse is a great retreat all year round. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual, while the space is elegant and pleasant to be in. Good food and great drinks complete Geronimo Inns’ first – but surely not the last - venture in the City.