It’s always a good sign that a restaurant is going to be the basis of a good night out when the menu goes that little bit further than chicken and the usual variety of steaks.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a good sirloin or fillet every now and again, but it’s encouraging to see a little variety on the plates from time to time.
In this part of the world there should be no excuse for a restaurant that doesn’t at least have the option of a little game here or there, but all too often it falls way short of the radar.
So it was a pleasant surprise to find whilst perusing the goodies on offer at the White Horse Hotel not just a tempting duck breast, but also rabbit and venison as well. That is what I call spoiled for choice.
It was more than just venison as substitute for a fillet steak. This was ‘Wild Deer Pie’, a beautifully presented dish with the meat slow braised in red wine with a wonderful shortcrust pastry crust. And it tasted every bit as good as it looked.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The starter menu was every bit as adventurous and, again, it was pleasing and ultimately too tempting to see crab on the list. It came with a little Parma ham and melon which seemed a strange combination, but one that worked quite well.
They had three different soups on offer, vegetable, spicy lentil and, more surprisingly, beetroot declared as a house specialty. The vegetable won out on this occasion and with its homemade wheaten bread proved just the ticket for a cold December evening.
This was a pre-Christmas family treat and the two smaller members of our party were more than well catered for by a really strong children’s menu. How pleasant to see a bona fide steak on offer there and my nine-year-old daughter, well on the way to becoming a connoisseur, asked for hers to be cooked medium, which it was perfectly and served with garlic potatoes.
Our one-year-old was perfectly content to tuck into a good sized portion of fish and chunky chips which arrived with a lovely light batter. He also took rather a shine to the complimentary deep-fried brie which arrived at our table shortly after we all took our seats.
While I was tucking into the venison pie, and the creamy champ which came with it, my other half thoroughly enjoyed the salmon steak which arrived garnished with two of the most enormous scallops I have seen this side of France.
The presence of children demands acceptance of the waitress’ offer of a look at the dessert menu - and both the adults and children were more than well catered for there. The chocolate fondant - complete with melting fudge centre - was a big hit, but for me it was hard to look past the City of Culture Crumble, made of apples and blackberries. There really is so much to choose from, including a chocolate macaroon, lemon souffle and selection of cheeses.
Special care is taken with the desserts, which are all made in-house by their very own specialist chef Gillian.
Just a ten minute drive from the city centre, it’s clear the White Horse Hotel has declared itself well and truly on the map when it comes to menu variety and quality.
We ate at a window table in the cosy restaurant complete with its own walk-in, glass fronted, wine cellar.
Perfect for families and intimate dinners.
For bookings:- Best Western Plus White Horse Hotel, 68 Clooney Road, Derry. TEL:- +44 (0) 2871 860606; EMAIL:- firstname.lastname@example.org; WEB:- www.whitehorsehotel.biz