The White Horse provides one of the finest destinations in north London for a pint and repast – just what you need after a brisk walk on Hampstead Heath.
Situated at the top of Fleet Road near the southern end of Hampstead Heath, the White Horse is bursting with character, and features some of the finest interiors of any London hostelry. Its location is optimal for attracting thirsty walkers and affluent locals alike. The ornate ceiling is almost a reason in itself to visit. Original tiled flooring and chandeliers, stained glass and an ornithological theme complete a vintage-inspired effect. The presence of fresh flowers underscores the care and attention to detail taken by the owners.
The White Horse is a firmly food-led pub, and the patrons are mainly well-heeled Hampstead dwellers in their thirties and forties. Yet the atmosphere is far from stuffy, and the friendly and efficient staff create a welcoming and vibrant environment. The Bose sound system again highlights the emphasis on quality, and the choice of music is pleasingly eclectic.
All too often London pubs create pleasant, rustic-style environments, but neglect to provide high quality food. This is certainly not the case at the White Horse, where there is a fantastic blend of quality ingredients and dextrous cooking. The pork belly with apple sauce (£9) is finely executed with the meat retaining its moisture and the wholesome sauce bursting with crisp flavours. Fresh chorizo with tomato (£8.50) is equally impressive, with piquant notes suggesting an infusion of chilli. The menu changes frequently to ensure dishes are at their seasonal best.
The house red, Alibiza Tempranillo (£16 per bottle), is a character-filled Rioja that matches seamlessly with red meats and cheeses. It is juicy and rounded without being overbearing. The bar is well stocked with an array of casque ales, mainstream lagers and some quirky continental selections. Again, there is a clear focus on quality, as if the owners are creating a venue that they themselves would like to frequent.
The Last Word
Hampstead and its environs are now cluttered with gastro pubs, so it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. With its delightful setting and extra sharp focus on quality, the White Horse is sure to become a destination in its own right and not just a great stop-off after that afternoon Heath stroll.