IT’S amazing how some restaurants change over time. Some improve enormously and take on a whole new image, while other once-great establishments slip into mediocrity.
I’m happy to report the White Hart, Pool-in-Wharfedale is in the former category. It’s 15 years since my last visit, when I recall the food was cheap and cheerful and the service was prompt and efficient.
It’s in a different league these days.
The predictable menu has been ditched and replaced by something altogether more appropriate for this pleasant semi rural corner of suburban Leeds.
This is the posh end of Leeds and the menu now reflects that.
In fact, it was so rich and varied that the four of us felt we must come again for some of the dishes we didn’t try this time: duck liver and port parfait with gooseberry & Prosecco flavour compote and toasted ciabatta bread (a starter at £7.25) or the pan-fried venison (£19.25).
For starters the four of us had crispy chicken karaage (£6.75), kiln-smoked salmon tacos (£6.50), thyme-roasted Portobello mushrooms and toast (£6.75) and char-grilled lamb and balsamic koftas (£6.95).
My karaage (Japanese/’deep fried’) was fabulous but I must say a little more would have been welcome.
It came with cucumber ribbons, mouli, kale and cauliflower couscous salad and warm katsu sauce. The tacos were excellent, too. Soft flatbread with flaked salmon, sour cream, roasted red peppers, crisp leaves and pickled red onions. Mushrooms were a simple enough dish but the Cropwell Bishop – a form of Stilton – made this an exceptionally tasty dish and the koftas - with lavash bread, harissa hummus and tzatziki – were very good indeed.
Service was slightly slower than we would have liked - not the waitresses’ fault, there seemed to be too few of them - but the smiles never diminished.
Main courses consisted of sticky crispy duck salad (£12.75); king prawn, crab and chorizo linguine (£13.95); wagyu burger (£15.95) and chicken, leak and crème fraiche pie (£14.50).
The duck salad was impressive with cucumber, spiralised mooli (a type of raddish) and carrot, toasted sesame seeds with plum, hoisin and sweet chilli sauce. The salad was crisp and fresh and the duck plentiful. The linguine was appreciated. It was beautifully cooked with white wine, tomatoes, garlic and chilli. I enjoyed the pie.
It was topped with ham hock crumb, served with seasonal cabbage mashed potato and buttered green beans.
Where we found room for a third course, I’m not sure but we did.
Washed down with a pint of Doom Bar (£3.55) and two very acceptable bottles of Pallone pinot grigio wine (£19.95 each).
The White Hart, Main Street, Pool in Wharfedale