ALE Autumn 2001 No. 304

Pub Reviews : The White Horse, Witcham, Ely

[Hooray! My call for readers' reviews of pubs neglected by ALE lately produced this fine response. Let's have some more: remember, there's a beer in it for you! Ed.]

When you walk through the front door of this delightful free house you are greeted by the main bar and its three real ales, two of which are constantly changing guests. To the right is the public bar, including a carvery area providing traditional home-cooked food of exceptional quality and quantity. Just off the side of this room, a door leads to a patio and garden area. To the left of the main bar is the relaxed lounge bar with its cane furniture and a tabled area which leads to a small, secluded restaurant.

The welcome you receive is friendly, and it's hard to believe that Jim, Jackie and son Jon have only been in this line of work for three years, with the White Horse their first pub. So it's a great achievement and a good sign of the landlord's enthusiasm for real ale that they have already had well over 100 different guests in that time, including Pickled Mouse from Arundel, Hooray Henley from Brakspear and Flo Titty from Swale brewery. If you're lucky, you might even find a mild being served direct from the cask. In the summer months there's also real cider, including Thatchers Farmers Tipple.

Only once have I seen the same guest ale twice, but then who can blame the regulars and landlord for not being able to resist another barrel of a great ale.

If the beer hasn't already got your mouth watering, the food certainly will. The White Horse has an excellent no-smoking restaurant in which all the food is cooked fresh by landlady Jackie and her team. They will soon be joined by Jon, who is training to be a chef between serving pints. Starters include such delights as sea-food crepes and crispy coated jalapenos, and main meals range from Somerset pork, duck breast, whole trout, and a great selection of steaks and curries. There is a vegetarian selection, and if you have any special dietary requirements you only need to phone in advance. And if you fancy a few more calories, you can choose from traditional puddings or a very tempting ice-cream selection.

There is a carvery on Sunday lunchtimes and a senior citizens' carvery on Wednesday lunchtime. It's advisable to book a table on Friday evenings and at the weekend. There's no food on Sunday and Monday evenings.

Overall the White Horse is a pub full of character, good food, and above all, excellent ale.

A Larwood

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