it was lovely to be back. If only all pubs could be like The White House in Bladon. Uncomplicated, welcoming, community based, it was like a breath of fresh air when we arrived for Sunday lunch, knowing a feast was in store if Ben Bullen‘s cooking is anything to go by.
No cliched gastropub dark blue walls and velvet booths here, instead it has a fresh, light, seaside cottage feel with plenty of room. Which was lucky because word has obviously got around that Ben’s Sunday roasts are the best! By the time we left the place was heaving!
From the old man stood at the bar enjoying a Sunday pint, to the families playing board games with their grandparents, its a wonderfully relaxed space to enjoy.
So what is all the fuss about? Well for a start Ben does a cracking roast, but there are other delicious alternatives. You can have a burger, a ploughman’s or fish and chips, so no one is restricted and it’s more family friendly.
Not everyone wants to sit down to a huge roast, and anyone who dines with babies, small children or teenagers on a regular basis knows that choice is good.
nothing at The White House is fussy, and all of it tastes divine
But first a lovely welcome from our accomplished waitress Tor, aided by Finn, who does everything with a smile even though she was rushed off her feet but.
Some huge green, juicy olives, the grilled sourdough with a wonderful velvety rich home-made hummus, a plate of crispy calamari with harissa mayo (£6.50) and the soup of the day – apple and parsnip (£7.50).
Anyone who is a fan of Ben’s cooking will know he is a soup master. He makes the best soup in Oxfordshire and this was no exception – creamy, yet with a wonderful depth of flavour, scattered with chopped chives and a dash of herb oil and accompanied by chargrilled sourdough, it was a brilliant introduction, and really set the precedent.
Because nothing at The White House is fussy, and all of it tastes divine. Great ingredients , a straight forward menu, and a pared back approach is a mighty fine combination.
For example the piping hot, crisp, calamari was perfectly cooked, and the accompanying harissa mayo so good we had to order more. The chargrilled sourdough gave everything a wonderful smoky taste, a great match for the cheese ploughman’s (£9.50) – where the cheddar and stilton were allowed to speak for themselves, served so daintily with sliced, splayed apple, gherkins, a fig chutney, and pickles, another great dish, properly done.
The White House burger with smoked applewood, streaky bacon, salad, burger sauce and skin on chips (£15.50) was generous, oozing with cheese and the burger nicely seasoned, happy days. As for the at house burger sauce recipe, I need it!
Hard to top right? But Ben did it in the last round, pulling a punch that felled us all. His Bladon apple and forced rhubarb crumble was absolutely divine
But the roast (£19) needs a special mention. There is only one offering – huge slices of 28 day dry-aged beef from Vicars Game, piled up on the plate with red wine gravy, roast potatoes, crushed root veg, greens and the best cauliflower cheese I think I’ve ever had – the cheese strands pulling across the table as we reluctantly shared it. Impressive, wholesome and just what the doctor ordered.
Vegetarians could have the spiced cauliflower pearl barley, roasted cauliflower, lime yoghurt, coriander and almond pesto (£14), but a veggie roast option would have been nice.
Hard to top right? But Ben did it in the last round, pulling a punch that felled us all. His Bladon apple and forced rhubarb crumble (£6) was absolutely divine. I can take or leave a crumble but this was on a different level.
Mind you, the sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream was right up there, dense and dark with a generous rich toffee sauce, it was a hell of a dessert.
So yes, a massive success. I had forgotten how good Ben Bullen’s cooking was but if you venture down to The White House in Bladon on Sunday between 12-4pm you can find out for yourself although I’d book as the word is already out!
If not try the fish and chip Friday (£15 with a drink), coffee mornings on Thursdays, a quiz night on Wednesday and endless calendar events. The White House in Bladon is more than just a pub that does really good food. It is leading the way in terms of what a community pub can be.
The White House, Grove Road, Bladon. https://www.facebook.com/thewhitehousebladon/ or https://www.instagram.com/the_whitehouse_at_bladon_/