The White Horse, New Preston
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But all that flies out the window when our entrées arrive. Best in Show is “White Horse seafood bake”—dramatic, delicious and stunningly priced at $18.95. Consisting of clams, mussels, sea scallops, shrimp and salmon in a garlic, fennel and white wine broth, it arrives, smelling heavenly, in an iron crock. I detect Pernod in the aroma and am delighted to discover the mélange does not taste overly of clams or tomato, nor is it muddied with potato. The mussels are small and sweet, the shrimp, correctly tender-crisp. We treasure every drop of the rich, aromatic pale coral sauce. The Tudors never had it so good.
Admittedly, Henry XIII, beef eater that he’s purported to have been, might have preferred the 12-ounce Black Angus strip sirloin—if he could have wangled any from our steak maven Bill, who pronounces it top-notch. I appreciate its rich flavor and especially like the taste of char-grilling. No painted-on grill marks here.
Bangers and mash is obligatory on England’s pub menus. The White Horse obliges with English farmhouse-style pork sausages served with mashed potatoes and gravy. I’ve settled on the lamb shank “braised all afternoon” in red and white wine. Lamb shank seems to be everywhere these days, often in the form of skinny little shank ends, neat and petite, but I favor these plump, meaty shanks. Generous portions are the golden rule here.
Desserts are many and mellifluously described. According to the menu, “Pear Belle Helen” (aka poire Hélène) is “a truly enduring classic, originally created to celebrate Offenbach’s opera in 19th century Paris.” What arrives is not a classic but it’s terrific, especially if you like vanilla ice cream, a ton of which tops a beautifully poached fresh pear and very good Belgian chocolate sauce.
Because the waitress raved about it, we try Bourbon bread pudding “soaked in cask-aged bourbon and served with a delectable bourbon sauce.” Dense, heavy and very sweet, it’s also a bit dry. We joke about the menu soaking up all the bourbon, leaving too little for the pudding.
Bill ordered the lemon meringue pie, and at the White Horse, it turns out to be a small work of art, a disc of buttery crust topped with a creamy swirl of tangy lemon.
English toffee pecan pie delivers exactly what the menu promises—“just the right amount of sweetness.” In addition, the pecans are toasted and a jigger of scotch has been added as a finishing touch.
I hope the folks at The White Horse will forgive me for having a bit of sport with the menu’s exuberant prose. It’s fun to read and informative, and gilds the moment with a glint of royal history.
Thank you, John Harris, and give my regards to Her Majesty.
The White Horse
258 New Milford Tpke., New Preston, 860/868-1496, whitehorsecountrypub.com
Open daily 11 to 10. Wheelchair access. Major credit cards. Price range: appetizers $4.25 to $9.25, burgers $7.75 to $9.75, entrées $14.50 to $19.50, desserts $5 to $8.