News that head chef Ben Bullen has taken over the tenancy of The White House in Bladon has spread like wildfire.
After all, he was only brought in as head chef in September, and things were flying. In fact, in February the pub won our BEST NEWCOMER award in the Ox IN A Box Food Awards.
But then landlord Johnny Roberts left and Ben realised he had the most incredible opportunity staring him in the face.
“IT’S QUITE DAUNTING BUT REALLY EXCITING AT THE SAME TIME”
“Johnny has moved on and the committee came to me and offered me the tenancy. After several long conversations with my wife we’ve decided to go for it because it has so much potential here, and while initially I was a bit intimidated, sometimes you have to take risks to get to where you want to be.
“So yes it’s quite daunting but really exciting at the same time. I’ve gone from running a kitchen to running a pub. But now I just want to put my stamp on it and raise the standards because The White House’s potential is enormous.”
Currently cleaning and reorganising the pub from tip to bottom, it’s a hive of activity when I visit, electricians, painters, cleaners and even Ben’s dad all getting on board to ensure it looks good as new when the kitchens reopen next week.
“I WANT TO SEE LOCALS HAVING A DRINK AND THE TABLES AND GARDEN FULL OF HAPPY DINERS”
Ben’s cooking skills are well known. The former Masterchef the Professionals quarter-finalist has an impressive culinary pedigree under his belt (READ ABOUT BEN HERE: https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/dream-team-masterchefs-ben-bullen-on-leaving-the-feathers-to-join-bladon-community-pub-the-white-house-and-what-to-expect/).
“I mean look at the location – a historic pub in a gorgeous village right on Blenheim’s doorstep!”
And with a silent partner with pub experience onside, the duo are ready to hit the ground running. But first they need a new GM or Front of House. “Staff shortages are a problem so we need someone with experience and enthusiasm to help us turn the White House into an incredible little pub,” he says.
“The community have worked so hard to transform The White House and deserve somewhere special”
So why here and why now? “People have always asked me if I wanted my own place and I’ve always said no. I liked the comfort of a wage cheque paid into my bank account every month, but this was too good an opportunity to turn down. And I really want to turn this pub into a more successful business.
“The community have worked so hard to transform The White House (read about that here https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/locals-celebrate-successful-bid-to-buy-the-white-horse-in-bladon-the-pub-where-churchill-learnt-to-drink-after-global-fund-raising-success/ and deserve somewhere special. Knowing that they have confidence in me means the world.”
In the meantime he is the proud new tenant of the community pub, and keen to get going on re-establishing its reputation and breathing fresh life into the historic inn, once frequented by a young Winston Churchill.
“We know we can do it. we just need to get people through the door.”
“We don’t want The White House to be a gastropub. I want to see locals having a drink and a laugh at the bar and the tables and garden full of happy diners. The food here has always been well received (read our review here https://www.oxinabox.co.uk/review-this-is-the-real-deal-how-the-white-house-in-bladons-food-has-been-transformed-by-head-chef-ben-bullen/) so we work on an appealing menu for everyone. Simplicity of flavour is what counts.
Think soup of the day, burgers, steak and fish and chips to roasted chicken & leek terrine, parmesan & truffle with pickled mushrooms and char-grilled sourdough or pan-roasted scottish salmon, warm tartare, dill potatoes. Oh and don’t forget the pizza oven!
“We know we can do it,” Ben continues, “we just need to get people through the door. And while we can’t expect everything to happen immediately we are looking at a steady growth. I mean look at the location – a historic pub in a gorgeous village right on Blenheim’s doorstep.”
Join the White House Bladon’s new Instagram account @the_whitehouse_at_bladon_ for updates on the kitchens re-opening.