2 Exchange Square Appold Street EC2M 2QA www.thewhitehorseec2m.co.uk

The White Horse has been a drinking hole I have always wanted to pay a visit to. It’s pretty hard to miss if you frequent the city often. If you’re rushing to Liverpool Street station post-work, this gastro delight can be seen always rammed with the suited and booted after their long slog in the office.

Located in the epicentre of the corporate furnace – Bishopgate’s Exchange Square, The White Horse is arguably the country-side pub escape that city-dwellers yearn for. Complete with rustic furnishings and fancy gins, this little gem also serves classic gastro-style pub grub in a traditional rural setting, without having to leave the capital.

With such clientele, the décor certainly has had a lot of careful thought placed into each individual element of the surroundings – from the chic downlighting through to the charming stools and seating that are stylishly strewn across the dining area. Would such sophisticated surroundings have an appropriate menu to match? Oh, it most certainly does.

With both my dinner guest and I craving a cool glass of rosé (it was a sweltering 27°C outside), we asked our waiter to offer us a suggestion of what he thought to be the most refreshing out of their extensive selection. Professionalism to a T, he amiably brought back tasters of his two favourite bottles. (We went with the Cotes de Provence Rosé Carte Noire just for your information… and could have finished the bottle).

Another charm to this gastro delight was the menu layout. Unlike the traditional “Starters, Mains, Puddings”, diners are encouraged to start with a sharing board (which also can be made available even if one is just popping in for a few drinks) and then have a main. With great gastro pub dishes however comes, unfortunately, gastro price tags… despite the’starters’ being rather hefty, to be fair the mains are actually pretty damn reasonable regardless of the central location (with dishes starting at £10.50).

We started with the Market Board – a delicious selection of Cheddar Croquets, Jerusalem Artichoke Dip, flatbread, Ricotta and Spinach Tart and chickpea and sweet potato fritters. Just enough to really get those taste buds tingling, but not a feeling of’oh I wish I didn’t eat that much, dreading the mains now’.  

Now a choice in the mains… this was tough. Normally I’m a stereotypical food critic and tend to opt for a classic steak (the one on offer, and a very popular choice on the floor, was a fabulous cut of Sirloin with a side of lovely thick cut chips, and lashings of bone marrow, parsley and shallot butter). 

But no. It was a Wednesday, and brace yourselves – I stuck to the beef route, but instead went for the “White Horse Burger”. A beef pattie loaded with bacon, cheddar, burger relish and my personal favourite addition “beer and bacon jam”. If it’s named after the tavern, it is bound to be a pub favourite don’t you agree?

My partner chose the Homemade Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli (after adoring the previous tart so much, so predictable) with charred’radicchio’ and butter emulsion. Both were presented on elegant white rounded plates (not a board in sight – such a rarity for sumptuous upscale inns these days). My burger was served’as is’ – medium rare and was simply wonderful. Just what you would want in a lovely burger, impressively towered up with lashings of meaty goodness.

My partner’s pasta number was extremely elegant in appearance, far more than the usual expectations of a £12.50 dish. Perhaps the only disappointment was that it was not piping hot, which meant as a result, after being engaged in a riveting dialogue with yours truly, meant that it did very quickly lose heat. It was extremely delicious nonetheless.

It must be said, in my opinion, that The White Horse’s predominant role in Bishopsgate as a socialising alcoholic hotspot for the surrounding offices does suit it down to the juniper berries in the gin. It is fair to say that food would not be the first reason why you would enter this establishment, but instead it is a welcoming addition.

I can see it as the sort of place that many a city slicker would come in for’a couple of pints’, only to discover the wonderful wafts of British classics once seated, and then finding themselves ordering’a little something’ to accompany their beverages.

 It would be interesting to visit this place around breakfast time, as the menu on offer does look fantastic – and all under £10. I can imagine this would be the ideal mid morning breakfast option with comforting, delectable meals only a stones throw away from the workplace.

The highlights are found easily in the impeccable service from all of the staff – attentive but not overbearing – and extremely knowledgeable. Despite being part of the Geronimo Inns chain, the staff had been fantastic at personalising the venue to match the corporate environments and desires, hence why I would urge you to at least poke your head in, if you happen to be in the area!