Pubspy - White Hart, Stoke Newington High Street

FROM the outside, The White Hart in Stoke Newington High Street looks nice, if nothing special.

Its smart, traditional exterior blends in with the fa�ade of shops lining the main road. Inside, the bar area is dimly lit and laid back.

The large beer garden at the back is clearly a popular draw in the summer – but with autumn in the air, piling on to the worn red sofas and sharing a large wooden table with other pint-drinking punters was much more inviting.

The bar is suitably well stocked for the cooler months, with the usual lagers on tap and real ale on draught. A large glass of house red wine turned out to be more like a chalice with its full and fruity contents keeping us quiet for the not unreasonable price of �4.25.

The ambience was – on PubSpy’s chosen night – unsophisticated, with Chelsea and Arsenal football games competing loudly for attention on big screens. But it was relaxed and not too imposing, most of the time at least, for a quiet chat.

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Now on to the discussion of food – and what a discussion that was. The modest but mouth-watering table menu is accompanied by a large board of bar snacks, including Spanish tortilla for �2.50, and multiple specials boards dotted all over.

Mutton shepherd’s pie and belly of pork were among the surprises on offer. Well, we thought they were on offer, but the staff did not seem to know.

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Confusion reigned. Being told on asking the barman about the fish of the day that it was “fish” was a little startling.

However, our patience paid off when the food arrived freshly cooked not long afterwards.

For �6.50, the mussels with a huge bowl of homemade skinny chips is enough reason to return on its own, and the canon of lamb with sweet potato mash and broccoli for �11.50 was a rich feast.

And, just like that, any misgivings that may have come before were forgotten.

Here, it’s what is on the inside that counts – and it tastes great.

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