“Are you guys really fat?” asks Matt and Cat reader Alex. Well, yes and no. However, with all this conspicuous calorie consumption something may have to give.
Either M and C’s purse will succumb to the misery that is the credit crunch or their tummies will finally lose their elasticity.
It’s surprising that Matt and Cat had not visited Niton’s White Lion before. The number of rural hostelries in the area is pretty small and M and C have ticked most off their list. Many years ago, The Cat had a very nice meal in the dining room of this pleasant country pub – a brace of Quorn fillets in a delightful lemon and pepper sauce. A year or so later, hoping to re-experience this good chow, she was disappointed to find that the chef or owner had changed and the tuck was not up to the previous standard. However, all this was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Matt and Cat, having put aside Cat’s preconceptions from the days of yore, entered the pub to find that it was a completely different experience again.
The dining room, entered from the car park, appeared to have recently undergone a makeover. The ceiling was lower than Cat remembered it and enquiries at the bar confirmed that things had changed. Although the interior was spruced up, it was not without character; a cosy wood-burning stove nestled in a brick fireplace adorned with a pair of dancing white lions. Whilst Matt ordered drinks and perused the menu at the bar, Cat had a nose around the rest of the pub. It was compartmentalised – a pool table in one bit, bar stools in another, comfy sofas and a further smaller dining area around the corner. Speaking later with the lady at the bar, it seemed that this division of the internal space was a deliberate attempt to get punters to eat in the dining room and not the bar, with some success.
Whilst Cat had been on her recce, Matt had ordered food for them both. He was keen to try the home-made steak and kidney pie and, for his companion, he had chosen the special pan-fried duck breast on a bed of red onion, red wine reduction, orange and truffle dressing, fresh salad and chips. It was either going to be that or mushroom lasagne, or maybe even the tasty sounding lamb and mint burger. However, he chose the most expensive dish on the menu which, at under a tenner was not going to break the bank.
The staff at the White Lion were very chatty and were happy to answer Matt and Cat’s work-a-day questions about the decorating and the menu. When the dishes arrived M and C inhaled the aromas of the meaty treats. Cat’s duck had a dense gravy which, although it looked pretty consistent had unexpected moments of tangy citrus – presumably the orange and truffle dressing. The duck was not at all fatty; quite lean and soft and plenty of it. The chips and salad were good too, although Cat would have preferred vegetables then she could have put them on the plate to help soak up the delicious sauce.
Duck breast £9.95
Steak and kidney pie £5.00
Devilled torte £3.95
Cherry pie £3.95
49er beer (1&1/2 pints) £4.65
Matt’s large slice of steak and kidney pudding did not have much kidney in it; there were a few bits but he would have liked a bit more. Although it was billed as home-made, Matt was suspicious of the very smooth surface and regular edging that the pastry had. It may have been made in the kitchen at the White Lion but, as it was so neat, they might as well have bought one in and saved themselves the trouble. There was a plentiful supply of peas and chips which were an appropriate accompaniment to this winter dinner. At £5.00 it was very good value.
Despite filling up on their first courses, Matt and Cat decided to have puddings. There was a pretty good selection, written out especially for Matt and Cat by the lady at the bar. Help was sought from the kitchen for an accurate description of devilled chocolate torte but the rest of the dishes were self-explanatory: these included strawberry sundae, banoffee pie, treacle sponge and cherry pie. M and C ordered the first and last puddings on this list.
These proved to be very good. The devilled chocolate torte was a bewilderingly chewy amalgam of biscuit, nougaty-marshallow, solid chocolate and sponge served with ice cream. It was quite sweet but the texture was the best thing about it; quite unlike any pudding Cat had had for a long time. Matthew enjoyed his cherry pie; a simple but effective plateful. He just had enough room for the remains of Cat’s torte, for she was defeated.
Your reviewers sat and chatted for a while longer, waiting for their dinners to go down. The White Lion had served them tasty filling fare – just what was needed for this cool night. There’s a space for drinkers, diners and pool sharks in this pleasant rural pub. Following their hearty – and very good value – meal at the White Lion, Niton, Matt and Cat waddled back to the car and noted with glee that there was still capacity in both the eating out fund and their waistlines.