Local, traceable food makes for a fine feast at The White Hart in Dartington, writes Alex Green
20 August 2019
The White Hart restaurant and bar is enviably located on the much-loved Dartington Hall estate, with its Grade II listed gardens and lush stretch of the River Dart running through it.
This idyllic setting has been attracting free thinkers and thought leaders in education, farming and the arts since Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst bought it in 1925. Together with their contemporaries, the Elmhirsts established the ‘Dartington experiment’. This was an approach to rural regeneration with an emphasis on sustainability and social justice, and it continues to lie at the heart of everything this charitable trust represents to this day.
The White Hart is headed up by chef Eamon Fullalove, a talent in his own right, who previously led the charge at Jamie’s Fifteen in London. His passion for seasonal food and local provenance shines through in his menus here.
Dishes feature vegetables grown in the recently restored walled garden or the nearby Apricot Centre at Huxhams Cross. Meat and dairy are sourced from the estate’s Old Parsonage Farm, and fish and seafood come from local ports.
With its high-beamed ceiling and a tangible sense of history, the restaurant is located within the old kitchens that once served the medieval Great Hall.
Dining with kids in tow can be a nerve-wracking experience, but we soon settled in – thanks to the fun Dartington-inspired activity pack to colour and keep, and the cosy seating in the lounge area.
For starters, Andrew and I shared the palate-cleansing, beetroot-cured salmon with pickled shallots and crème fraîche. A plateful of flavour!
Our children had the cheese quesadillas and toad-in-the-hole. With a cheese toastie and sausage and mash, what’s not to love?
For mains, I enjoyed the estate’s home-grown, umami-flavoured ‘Grow Cycle’ mushroom risotto, while Andrew tucked into a crisp, seared sea bass fillet, served with new potatoes, salsa verde and chard.
Sharpham Vineyard’s Dart Valley Reserve wine provided the ideal accompaniment. We rounded off the meal with goat’s yoghurt panna cotta, served with pretty macaroons and a chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream.
For a pleasant few hours, we were living the Dartington dream.
Alex loves: dining in the historic grounds, and knowing the food is grown and reared on the estate
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