Pub #26: The White Hart, Stoke Newington High Street

Wait, another pub called The White Hart?  Yes, that’s correct.  Just as there are probably a number of pubs called The Angel and a number of pubs called The Rose and Crown, there are more than one White Harts out there, and I happen to be reviewing two of them, so far.

I went to The White Hart pub on Stoke Newington High Street before in search of food once with a friend of mine who was in from Orlando around holidaytime.  We were informed that the kitchen was closed, either due to the time we had arrived, or because it was the holidays and the cook may have been away.  Either case, we didn’t stay for a pint, but moved on for nosh elsewhere.

Last weekend, I was there for two different events for the Stoke Newington Literary Festival, so Saturday shortly before the first talk–Eat Your Words–I popped in and ordered a pint of Ringwood Best Bitter.  I’ve been into my bitters lately, which seems to be going against the weather grain.  Pale ales and lager for hot weather, isn’t it?  Not for me, apparently, as I’m far preferring dark, murky porters and bitters.  Maybe because I haven’t been eating much lately, I have some subconscious preference for something that’s sort of filling

Sorry, but there’s no photo of the bitter, but it was smooth and delicious, and it was gone before I knew it.  I don’t have a photo because I forgot my camera (shock and horror!) at home.  When I realised this, on the 393 en route to Stoke Newington, I was kicking myself, since I take my camera damn near everywhere, so I was really annoyed to not have had it in my bag.  Anyway, after acquiring my pint of bitter, I had to move upstairs to the function room, which was unbearably hot, and eventually got quite crowded, and I simply forgot.  Although it was hot, I still enjoyed the panel of speakers we had that afternoon: Niki Segnit, author of The Flavour Thesaurus (*ahem* my birthday is in a couple of months, folks….); Pete Brown, writer of three books on beer (I now own one); Elisa Beynon, The Vicar’s Wife cookbook writer; and Ian Kelly, author of a biography on the world’s first celebrity chef, Anton Careme, as well as a biography on Casanova.  The attendees were treated with beer and chocolate, which are some of my favourite things to put in my belly.  The beer we had received was a nice, fruity beer that tasted quite bright.  Anyone remember the name?  I thought I wrote it down, but I’ve it forgotten since.

Sunday afternoon I was back at The White Hart, but this time I didn’t order a beer, because I had a feeling there would be free beer at the talk I was attending that afternoon: What’s so great about the Great British Pub?  Had I looked at the events page, I would have seen that there would, indeed, be free beer.  This talk saw Pete Brown again, as well as Tim Bradford and Paul Ewen.  Since my dissertation is focusing heavily on pubs, I sat up front and took notes like the little dork that I am.  Among other things, we were treated with tales of small-town English pubs from Tim Bradford and a surreal pub review of The White Hart from Paul Ewen.

So, the Stoke Newington Literary Festival = win.  But what about The White Hart?  You know, it’s okay, but I still have yet to get food there, because on Saturday, I was going to order something from their regular menu, but when I tried to order whatever it was at the bar, I was informed that they were only doing the barbecue menu that day.  Oh.  I didn’t want the grilled halloumi skewers, because it just didn’t sound like it was worth the £7 or £8 it was listed at, but maybe it would have been, because my friend Hannah, who did order from the barbecue menu, managed to get healthy helpings of sides with her burger.  Trouble was, though, there was a bit of a communication fail as to how she was supposed to get her burger.  She hadn’t realised she was supposed to get her burger at the grill outside, but rather thought she just had to wait and the bar staff would bring the food to her, as per usual in most pubs.  Time goes by, and then Hannah begins to wonder about where her burger is, so she goes up to the bar and she finds out that she was supposed to have gone outside.  She returned back to the table with a number this time, assured they would bring the burger out to her this time around.  More time passes, and still no burger.  Hannah goes and inquires again, and it turns out that due to the short rainshower they were experiencing outside in the beergarden, they stopped barbecuing, thus her burger was delayed.  Finally, after a bit more time, the burger appeared in front of Hannah after the rain ceased, accompanied with quite a bit of beans on the side, and something else that may have been a salad, but I’m not too sure.  In any case, there was a good amount of food, and Hannah really quite enjoyed it, but she did have to wait a bit for it.

To be fair, the place was quite full, so it was probably very easy for miscommuniqués to occur.  But still, it was kind of odd.  I’m sure that numerous orders go through the bar and from the kitchen flawlessly, but I’ve sort of given up on ever eating at The White Hart; after having my two attempts to do so thwarted.  I think it just isn’t meant to be.  With a number of nummy places to get food at on Stoke Newington Church Street, I’m not too bothered by it–although maybe third time will be a charm.  In any case, it’s a lovely place to have some pints, and there’s free wifi.  I may be working on my dissertation there sometime soon, tapping away at my laptop with a pint of Ringwood Best Bitter or other dark, murky bitter at my side.

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