“ 51 Southsea Terrace / Southsea / Hants PO5 3AU „
Situated on Southsea Terrace by the common, just a few minutes' walk from either the sea front or Palmerston Road shopping precinct, the White Horse has been a favourite haunt of my son and his partner for almost a year now, but it took me rather longer to discover it. One Bank Holiday afternoon, however, after a morning of torrential rain the skies cleared and I was persuaded to give it a try.
It is quite an impressive building with spacious gardens at the front scattered with picnic tables. The warm sunshine had already dried these off, so we decided to sit outside and have lunch and a drink. Making a mental note of a table number, we all went inside to look at the menu and place our order. Two of us decided on falafel and pitta bread, the third on a cheddar sandwich with salad and nachos. We also order two Americanos and a cappuccino; the bill came to just over twenty pounds.
We went back to our table in the garden and sat enjoying the view over the common, looking towards the sea and the Isle of Wight. It seemed unusually quiet for a Bank Holiday, but the rain had doubtless put most people off venturing out for the day. After a while the waitress brought our coffees, which are served with tiny hand-made chocolate cakes. I always say how hard I am to please where coffee is concerned, but my cappuccino was excellent and at £1.75 quite a bit cheaper than Costa, for example. The Americanos are just £1.50 and comes with a separate small jug of milk.
A couple of minutes went by before the waitress came back and joked that we had made short work of the cakes. They were very small! She regretted that the falafel was no longer available and said we could choose whatever we liked as a replacement from the menu. We both chose chicken and bacon club sandwiches, which are priced at 55p more than the falafel. I wouldn't normally go for such a large sandwich, but I didn't want anything with cheese and this seemed the best option.
A wicker basket containing sauces, mayonnaise and cutlery wrapped in serviettes was brought while we waited. The sun was by that time coaxing people out, and a family with young children installed themselves close to us. I don't take kindly to people who let their young sons jump on top of tables or who encourage their daughter to slap her brother, I'm afraid, but I don't think I was alone. It was noticeable that one group of people left their table and went inside the pub.
Our food arrived, and the club sandwiches were huge. The chicken and bacon were very good, the nachos crisp, and there was a green side salad with dressing and a slice of tomato. By the time I'd finished half of my sandwich, I knew I wouldn't be able to manage all of it so I cut the other piece in half and passed it over to those with larger appetites. Even then, it was as much as I could do to finish it. I had chosen wholemeal bread and it was certainly very fresh. The cheddar sandwich was also given the approval.
Once we had finished eating, we decided to get away from the noisy family and go inside for another drink. There were children inside the pub as well, but thankfully they were well behaved. We chose a low table with a settee and an armchair, but there are of course larger tables for those who are eating indoors. The whole of the front of the pub has large windows so that you can still look out over the common and the sea front. The seating area is very spacious and unless the pub is particularly crowded you would be able to have some privacy.
I am sure I shall return one day in the hope of trying out the falafel, although there are other temptations on the menu as well. The speciality is a range of 'horse pies'; don't worry, they are not made of horse meat, but they are the White Horse's pies. Each costs £10 and is served with chips and seasonal vegetables. If you can't decide which one to have, you can order a platter of three different mini pies. Baked potatoes are also on the menu with either tuna and mayonnaise or beans and cheddar cheese. The special on the day I visited was Southsea mackerel for £7.50. Desserts included spotted dick with custard, or banoffee pie. Food is served from noon until 10pm from Monday to Saturday, and until 8pm on Sunday. The menu does change with every season.
Other than during the summer months, the White Horse is popular with students as it is just a stone's throw from one of the university's halls of residence. I would recommend it to anyone shopping in Southsea on a fine day who feels like eating al fresco. From Palmerston Road, walk straight down Kent Road and cross over to Southsea Terrace. (See if you can spot Peter Seller's birthplace on the way, identified by two round blue plaques - I know this is off topic, but someone might be interested.) If you are visiting Southsea sea front and the weather suddenly turns bad, make a dash across the common and have a bite to eat inside the White Horse.
The White Horse
51 Southsea Terrace
Tel. 023 9281 8979