It isn't very often that I get to venture out of the city centre, but when I do I like to make it a real occasion.
I had heard lots of good things about The White Hart at Lydgate, and I thought there wasn’t a better place to go on a culinary adventure to… twinned with the fact that I can’t resist the pull of cosy pub with fantastic food for long.
The White Hart is set in the most beautiful area – a tiny, idyllic little northern village just outside Oldham. The space is warm and welcoming and filled with impeccable staff (like our fantastic waiter Florian), a fine wine list and a menu which sits in the sweet spot between fine-dining and effortlessly comforting classics.
One of the first things that grabbed my attention about your experience at The White Hart is that it’s all very much up to you and what you want from it. You can just go for a delicious rendition of something low key (Roast Chicken, Shepards Pie etc) or splurge out and make yourself a little DIY tasting menu with a bottle of £500 wine if you want. Just make sure you don’t leave your credit card at home because you will certainly need it.
For the record, we went somewhere in the middle of those two things and I must say, on the whole, it was fantastic.
After some olives and bread and a few slurps of the delectable house red (Nauajas Tempranillo Rioja at a very reasonable £24.50 per bottle), we got stuck into the Lobster Ravioli (£12) which was a total delight.
The single but impressive piece of ravioli was well stuffed with a neat little skirt of perfectly thin pasta. It was obviously handmade – so The White Hart earnt some serious brownie points there.
The Yorkshire Asparagus (£9) was slightly less exciting than the lobster – but it was a real lesson in the beauty in British ingredients treated simply. The parmesan custard brought a savoury element to the dish while managing to keep things light and fresh. For smaller appetites, it is the perfect starter.
The Line Caught Seabass (£21) was deliciously fresh with a delicate texture and a flavour that tasted like a mouthful of the sea. Not many fish that land on your plate can boast that they met their demise on the end of a line rather than bloody big net – and this one was certainly fresh as can be. Top marks for the lovely bouillabaisse sauce too.
Rump of Lamb (£22) was nothing short of fantastic. Cooked to perfection with a crisp layer of skin and a rosy-pink middle, it came served with bright English peas, wilted lettuce (which is one of the most underrated vegetable accoutrements on the planet) and lovely lamb jus.
There was also sweet pops of apricot in the form of stained-glass thin segments and a lovely jewel-tone puree – which surprisingly went incredibly well with the umami-rich lamb and managed to balance things nicely.
Dessert, for me, was the best part of the entire meal, and that is quite big coming from me because my sweet tooth must have got lost in the post.
First was a sumptuous Strawberry Pavlova (£7) made up from brittle and shiny white meringue, homemade vanilla marshmallow, fruity strawberry sorbet, fresh strawberries and basil. It was like a spoonful of summer and I couldn’t get enough.
The second dessert- a pair of White Chocolate Choux Buns (£7.50) which were charming. Light as a feather and filled with a stunning vanilla ice cream and topped off with freeze-dried raspberries and little edible flowers.
Pretty as a picture and even more delicious – this was the ultimate end to a fantastic meal at The White Hart.
Unsurprisingly, The White Hart at Lydgate can boast at least one honourable mention (rather than a star) in the ever infamous Michelin Guides, but it is the absolute prime example of what they need to be.
I would be lying if I said it was easy to get to – in fact it is highly likely that your taxi driver will take you through a load of bumpy park roads if you are coming from town – so pack your sports bra.
The point is – no, it isn’t easy to get to, but yes it is certainly worth the trip. Stay the night if you wish in one of their cosy rooms upstairs and make a weekend of it where you can enjoy the stunning vista of the Lancashire countryside – but however you do it, just bloody go.
The White Hart at Lydgate, 51 Stockport Rd, Lydgate, Oldham OL4 4JJ