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The White Horse
Woolley Moor, Derbyshire
01246 590319
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Sunday Lunch At The White Horse Inn, Woolley Moor

Published On Wednesday 25 Oct 2023 by Sticky Beak
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Fine weather meant one thing at the weekend for me and The Man: 48 hours full of gardening, field mowing and general maintenance at Mummy Birds’ gaff! We ploughed ahead, fuelled by regular drinks and biccies and a fish supper delivery on the Saturday. Sunday in our flock means only one thing – roast din-dins; yummy!

His Nibs had booked us a table at The White Horse, Woolley Moor, a place familiar over the years to both sides of my family – including Mummy and Daddy Bird back in their glory days (ooh, imma get an earful for that!). From the road this place looks chocolate-box beautiful with its stone exterior, outside seating area, and its generously landscaped exterior planters. As we parked in one of the numerous spots in the top car park, I was hoping it would be just as lovely inside. You’ll be pleased to hear that it was every bit as nice, the traditional bar being the first thing you clap eyes on.

There are a couple of areas to eat in, and we were shown to a table at the rear, in a sort of conservatory space whose ceiling was festooned with floaty fabric to soften the atmosphere. Simple, but solid, wooden tables and chairs were spaced nicely apart, set with sparkling cutlery and side plates. We ordered a bottle of Pinot Grigio and some water for the table, and I know it’s going to sound really girly, but the wine glasses were muchos swish – I loved the shape of them.

Head Chef Daniel Orwin and his team offer a menu that offers diners plenty of choice: 8 starters, 7 mains and 6 desserts, and The White Horse source their food locally whenever possible. Although there were several tempting morsels in the starter selection, we all eschewed them in favour of possibly having a pudding (all priced £7.95) after our mains. I went for a conventional Sunday Roast dish – roast rib of Derbyshire Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, £18.50 – but both His Nibs and Mummy went a bit off-piste. Mummy opted for a 10oz ‘D’ cut Gammon with chunky chips, fried Egg, griddled fresh Pineapple and garden Peas (£16.95, the 5oz Gammon costs £11.95) and The Man Bird fancied the sound of the Crispy Belly Pork with Spring onion mash, Apple purée and smoked Bacon sauce (£18.95). I loved the simplicity of this menu; ALL main courses come with a selection of vegetables, so there was no faffing about having to decide on what to have with them… or choosing your meal based on what the accompaniments were (which I have done in the past!).

I was over-joyed to see a tell-tale glisten of fat in my gravy – which was in a separate little jug, FYI – as it meant that it was proper ‘meat juice’ gravy and the flavour would be so much nicer. The pair of slices of Beef were wonderfully thick and the fibres were easily cut through, except for a pesky ribbon of fascia which was a bit more effort to tackle. My taste buds rejoiced at the depth of flavour of the meat that was cooked somewhere between the pink or ‘all through’ that was offered; I’d asked for pink and it was a smidge over that, but still within the bandwidth that I enjoy.

Him Indoors certainly got lots of pork for his pennies! The slice of Belly Pork was easily 2” thick and probably about 5” long; generous by anyone’s standards. A layer of crisped, golden skin was on the uppermost surface, followed by a layer of creamy-tasting fat and a thick layer of mild, sweetly flavoured Pork. Even the keenest hunger would be quelled by this meaty morsel, and The Man dug in enthusiastically.

Mummy Bird had vacillated between the 5oz and 10oz Gammon steak, not being sure that she’d be able to finish the larger piece of meat. Me and The Man told her that if she had any left, to just have it boxed up and eat it for supper but, in the event, she mugged the lot of it in a single sitting! Over the years of the blog, there’s been a heck of a lot of chips scoffed, but the ones at The White Horse are right at the top of the list. Flavoursome spuds were fried to golden, crispy perfection with fluffy, soft inners that melted on the tongue – they were incredibly tasty, and not a trace of greasiness was to be found. Sweet garden Peas were housed in a pot of their own and there was a good portion of them to enjoy. A large slice of fresh Pineapple had been grilled to caramelise some of the natural sugars and its taste complimented the other elements of this scrummy dish. Fried Egg is a perfect partner for Gammon and the one here still had a runny yolk that begged to be dunked into – something that Mummy happily obliged with!

My own dish had come with a super-tasty mix of mashed Carrot, Turnip and Swede, which was soft, sweet and comforting. In complete contrast were the trio of ultra crispy roasties – man, were these moreish; and you that they really were, coming from someone who isn’t a keen spudophile! Completing the line-up was a homemade Yorkie Pud, and this was a great size; the treat was also crisp at the top and sides with a pillowy bottom. I really enjoyed the flavour of this particular batter mix, perfectly seasoned as it was.

A colourful medley of Mange Tout, Green Beans, Carrot, and Shredded Cabbage were the seasonal veggies served to us and a good-sized bowl of Cauliflower Cheese was also brought out – be still my beating heart! All the vegetables were cooked perfectly to retain a bit of bite and preserve their full flavours, but it was the cheese-heavy minx that captured my attention. The florets of Cauliflower were tender (not soggy) and bathed in a thick, unctuous sauce whose dairy deliciousness was ramped up with some wholegrain Mustard to impart a gentle heat in the mouth.

Our lovely server had checked that we were all enjoying our meals and was rewarded with three squeaky clean plates to take back to the kitchen. The team had also discreetly checked that we were ok for drinks, both water and wine, and just generally ensuring that we were comfortable. It wasn’t just us that received this level of service, all the diners did, and given that there was a large family group in (including the most adorable baby girl, who was a little superstar), they were looking after a good number of us.

Just His Nibs and I were in the market for pudding; I went for the Treacle Tart with Crème Fraiche Sorbet, and The Man chose the chilled Chocolate Fondant with Salted Caramel butter sauce and Hazelnut praline. Rich, velvety and indulgent, the Chocolate Fondant was going down a treat with His Nibs and, having had a dib, both Mummy Bird and I agreed that it was indeed delish! The Salted Caramel sauce was exactly that, pimped by the richness of butter. A gentle nutty hint came via the praline, making this a very desirable dessert in every way.

I wasn’t quite so lucky with my choice of Treacle Tart. The treacle body was absolutely spot-on with its sweet intensity and textural quality, but the pastry was soggy, which was an absolute gutter! I could’ve excused a little softness, given that the morsel was served warm (so any butter would soften), but even the outer crust was overly soft. Shame, given how utterly fab the filling was. Maybe I just got unlucky on the day? I also loved the contrast between the sweet tart filling and the superb sharpness of the Crème Fraiche Sorbet – just amazing!

This wonderful venue is definitely family and child friendly, but dogs aren’t permitted inside.

We all agreed that we’d definitely return to The White Horse at Woolley Moor; there were several dishes that we still wanted to try. Hot Wings given here; we had a great time. If you visit and have the Treacle Tart, do let me know how you fare, please. To book your table, ring 01246 590319 or visit the website www.thewhitehorsewoolleymoor.co.uk for opening times, menu details and information on their accommodation: The View.

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