The signs in the reception area say it all — dress code in the dining room “no jeans” “ties appreciated”! Report By Le Connoisseur
But don’t let these put you off, the staff are wonderfully friendly and helpful and didn’t flinch when we arrived clutching large bunches of Proteas which they willingly stored in water for us.
The dining room itself is enhanced by beautiful posies of flowers on each table, while formal dining tables and chairs add an air of elegance. After a very necessary wash and tidy before dinner, we made our way to the bar which has the most varied selection of drinks I have ever found in this country including my all time favourite post-dinner tipple — calvados and my next favourite, armagnac.
In addition to these, there is a wonderful selection of fine brandies and for pre-dinner drinks that great rarity — dry sherry. The bar is an intimate small area with additional seating in the adjoining lounge and veranda but we happily occupied the bar stools, dry sherry in hand, and perused the dinner menu and wine list.
There is a set menu offering choices for each of the three courses at US$18 or the à la Carte menu which includes the Hotel’s signature dish of Impala in red wine sauce. The wine list is well- chosen and not overpowering and most importantly, very reasonably priced. Our choice was a Nederburg Pinotage from the “Bin Ends” section. I can never resist a bargain and at US$18 was well satisfied. Wine by the glass at US$2 or carafe is a thoughtful touch and under these circumstances, the corkage charge of US$6 does not offend.
We both decided to chose from the à la Carte menu as the cost was not much more than the set one, aptly named “Power Cut Menu”. My companion chose “the fish stream” with smoked trout pâté followed by whole trout poached in wine for main course and I the “chicken run” with chicken liver pâté followed by chicken kiev.
We happily remained at the bar until we were called to table. Both pâtés served with toast were excellent, I particularly liked the heavy smoked taste of the trout.
When our main course arrived, it was a welcome change to be served with spinach and cauliflower in white sauce after several recent hotel dinners, all of which served the uninteresting trio of cauliflower, beans and carrots!
My companion declared the trout excellent and fat enough to make the surgical procedure of separating meat from bone worth the effort. Although I enjoyed my chicken kiev, no spurt of garlic butter greeted me when I cut through the meat, which itself was drier than I would have liked — an occupational hazard with this deep fried dish.
While I alas sat on the retirement bench contemplating our return to the bar for the much anticipated post dinner calvados with my coffee, my companion proceeded to a sweet of crème caramel in which fresh cream appeared to have been substituted for the caramel sauce but which nonetheless was delicious.
To quote the present owner David Graham’s own words “the first owners….gave the Horse it’s good name for food…I have endeavoured to maintain standards…together with good service, homely comfort and a friendly welcome”.
Expect to spend US$25 – US$45 per head
White Horse Inn, Vumba Road, Vumba.