We were hoping for one of those hot, sunny days that scream pub lunch, beer garden and alfresco dining, and with social distancing still very much on the agenda, The White Hart at Wytham was chosen as the venue for a long overdue post-lockdown catch up with friends.
The White Hart is one of many pubs across the county that has really gone the extra mile to ensure customers feel safe and very welcome, and their new dining pods clearly represent a significant investment both financially and mentally.
“the pods were remarkably robust, as a mini tornado ripped through the wytham pub garden minutes after we had settled down to peruse the enticing menu“
Luckily it’s all paid off because the new pods are comfortable and provide a safe environment away from other diners – as well as being excellent at keeping the weather at bay, as we were to discover!
As luck would have it we’d managed to book one of the very popular bespoke dining pods, which proved not only a really lovely way to enjoy lunch, but were also remarkably robust as a mini tornado ripped through the pub garden minutes after we settled down to peruse head chef Andrew Carr’s enticing menu.
And as parasols were blown across the courtyard we actually felt surprisingly insulated and cosy in our pods, and despite the offer to move inside we stuck it out – our steely British determination to carry on regardless, despite the wind and the rain, saw us through what was to be an utterly delicious and fun lunch.
With three out of four us focussed on having three courses, the starters arrived. Inspector Morsel went for the handpicked Cornish crab scotch egg, I was powerless to resist the Oxford Old Hooky cheese souffle and our friend tucked into a very vibrant summer vegetable minestrone soup.
All were declared a triumph – the souffle being particularly superb.
“ENJOYING THE POD TOO MUCH TO GIVE IN TO THE WEATHER, WE ORDERED PUDDING”
My rule for dining out is to always try and choose something I’d never cook at home – and the White Hart’s soft plump cheesy soufflé ticked all the boxes.
Undeterred by the unseasonally dramatic weather we moved on to the mains.
A crispy warm Asian duck leg and watermelon salad arrived along with a magnificent burger, a fragrant and warming curry, and a watermelon, broad bean and cashew nut salad with a sesame and soy dressing.
Four empty plates later we all agreed it was delicious.
Enjoying the pod too much to give in to the weather, we ordered pudding. The poached pear and almond frangipane tart was perfect, and the sticky toffee pudding declared an absolute winner.
Inspector Morsel’s Oxford Blue cheese plate was an ideal finale.
The time flew by, and 3pm came too soon. We ‘d have loved to linger a bit longer but had to vacate our cosy pod and head for home to give the staff time to prepare for the evening service.
And as we drove home in the bluster and rain, completely refreshed and revitalised after our meal, despite the weather’s best attempts to ruin our lunch, I realised we really had test driven the pods to the limit.
So I can confirm that said pods at The White Hart are popular for good reason. They are safe, cosy, intimate and comfortable and, as we witnessed, surprisingly weather-proof and robust.
As the food was also superb, we will be back very soon to sample to rest of the menu – hopefully on a calmer day!
The White Hart at Wytham www.whitehartwytham.com