Pub Of The Week: Tony Leonard reviews the White Hart Hotel
White Hart Hotel
63-65 Hill Street, Longwood.
When? November 27, 2020.
The small country town of Longwood, some 90 minutes north-east of Melbourne has one of the truest, most traditional country pubs in this state, The White Hart. Population 250 ish.
Family owned, (Anne/Kate/Nick), warm and welcoming, the White Hart has been operating here for close to 130 years. Double storey brick, balcony on second level, expansive beer garden with stage for music; this is a quintessential Victorian pub look, situated next to the rail line.
Exposed brick and polished timber inside, quaint small front bar, a couple of room for diners, fireplaces, and the pub was near capacity last Sunday. The efforts of everyone attached to the pub, which is 3 generations along with some long time staff – means patrons are happy to come from afar.
They see it: They love it.
Food is done – almost exclusively – in house. Sourcing local as far as food and wine is concerned, the pricing is very fair at all levels.
This was a beauty to finish up 2020. Again I reiterate – you gotta love your local when it delivers hospitality like this.
A contender for pub of the year.
When the aim of the kitchen is to do the lot – or as much is possible – from scratch, then that in itself is praiseworthy. And when it is pulled off as well as the White Hart did, then more power to the team in the kitchen.
Entrees number seven; mushroom arancini, served with house made aioli and parmesan is tasty and packed with flavour are $16. Vegetable spring rolls char sui sauce are $16. Plenty to share. Mains cover all pub favourites, chicken schnitzel, $22, up to 300g Porterhouse, full whack, $36. The pub also offers share plates and are fairly priced.
Exceptional tap beer – Carlton Draught (5.2/pot) or a local Longwood Rail Pale is beautifully cared for. Wine prices are astonishingly fair in a full retail setting. A small producer from the Strathbogie’s – Garners – provided an outstanding 2014 Shiraz – 10pg/36/btle. The mark up is miniscule for such a great drop.
- Share plate of entrees. $23/2people. All the entrees displayed. Clear indication of how good the rest of the meal would be. Very good start,
- Longwood Lamb Pie, mash, mushy peas. $25. Properly cased, chock full of lamb, good support cast (maybe a sauce to go with it). It is always an extra tick from me when an effort is made to produce a properly encased pie; not stew in a ramekin with a pastry top.
- 300g Scotch Fillet, $37 (add $3 for a sauce). Chips/salad//Mash/Veg. Excellent piece of meat, char flavour, cooked as close to rare as you will get in a pub, the award afforded to the White Hart by the Australian Horizons Foundation for best steak in a small town 2020, (People’s Choice) is well deserved.
- Lemon Tart, cream and ice cream. $11.50. Right finish finish, generous slab.
Maybe the lockdown/out for the best part of 7 months gives rise to sentimentality, but the fact is that this pub attracts customers from far and wide so its reputation is long established.
Family run old styled traditional pubs, become rarer and maybe the last bastion is in small towns like Longwood. They support local producers; we support them. It may catch on.
But the final highlight comes from an unexpected source; the likes of which I haven’t encountered in 25 years of talking pubs.
Son Nick, a tall, happy country kid is working the tables delivering food, clearing plates. When our mains were finished, without a hint of sarcasm he came up and innocently blurted… .’Jeez, you looked like you enjoyed that!’
We did. Just like the rest of the pub. White Hart Hotel. Longwood.