Get ready for a mouth-watering adventure as we team up with the passionate and discerning palate of “Burgers He Wrote” on a quest to find the perfect burger! But that’s not all, this journey is about celebrating more than just the delicious bites; it’s about shining a spotlight on the incredible businesses we have right here in Andover.
If you’re a food lover and a supporter of local establishments, you won’t want to miss this thrilling blend of culinary exploration and community appreciation. Get ready to savour the flavours of Andover and fall in love with food all over again – because at Love Andover, we’re all about celebrating the best in food and our amazing community!
The Messy Burger – Hand Pressed and made from Owton’s Prime Beef Mince, with Bacon, Caramelised Red Onion Chutney, Melted Blue Cheese, Salad, and topped with Onion Rings. Served with Chips and Homemade Coleslaw – £16.50.
“Oh come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant!”
Before you start thinking I’ve gone all ‘Songs of Praise’ on you, I felt it fitting to start with a festive number, considering we’re now in December, but also as I believe it represents the call for locals, whether old or new, to come and support the recently re-opened White Hart in Penton, which will inevitably bring you joy, and is, in my humble opinion, a triumph!
It’s surprising I’m so cheerful to be honest with you, I’ve been man down all week, sick as a dog I tell thee, run down with cold and flu and not the Colombian or Peruvian kind either. Following on from last week’s weather report, there’s not much chance of Snowflakes this Christmas I’d imagine, plenty for me to moan about though. ‘Tis the season to be poorly, with most workplaces being treated to a Cacoughany, performed by the Feel Harmonica Orchestra.
So, whilst I’m not sure about it being a White Christmas in Andover, it most certainly will be a White one in Penton, their re-opening coming just in time for locals to see in this period here, and for those who’re interested after reading this review, all three of you, ‘Wise though you are’ – Yoda
I had the privilege to not only try this burger, but as I’d brought the main man Freddo along with me too, the landlord Kyle gave us the VIP treatment, Freddo’s reputation clearly proceeding him these days as he’s sat there with his feet up, glass of champers, getting served Smoked Salmon, Crayfish & Caviar Salad, with Dill & Chive Crème Fraiche (£9.50).
What’s funny about that is Freddo is a right fussy little eater, like most kids are, but there was zero chance of him trying anything remotely native to the sea. It’s hard enough getting him to sail alongside Captain Birdseye, let alone try ‘Fish Balls’, as he called them. I have to say though, this was the most decadent bit of scran I’ve had in a long time.
When you’ve got a sophisticated palate like mine, seafood becomes a real joy, especially when it’s as fresh as this was, and as classic as the combination is, without having any real cookery, you can’t just pop down Tesco to pick up the ingredients, then recreate this. Everything worked in perfect harmony like synchronised swimmers. This will be the best £9.50 you’ll spend on something fishy, since going to the cinema to watch Finding Nemo. Prices accurate in 2003, hopefully that makes you feel old.
“Sharkbait, hoo ha ha!”.
Continuing with the starters, as our table began to look like a medieval banquet, up next were the Tempura King Prawns (£8.25).
I’m not sure what they’re feeding these King Prawns, but they’ve turned up looking like Dr. Manhattan’s todger. The next time someone calls you Shrimp d*ck, show them one of these. They should be called SuperKing really, although if they came in packs of 10, you could guarantee that Dot Cotton would be trying to smoke them. What I will say is they are delightful. Really meaty, succulent prawns, that were cooked wonderfully in that Tempura Batter, albeit the batter is slightly thicker than your traditional Japanese Tempura.
The origin of Tempura batter isn’t even Japanese, it’s Portuguese, being inspired by a dish called ‘Peixinhos da Horta’, that was introduced to Japan in the 16th century, where Portugal were one of the few countries that Japan traded with at that time. The word ‘Tempura’ is also likely derived from ‘Tempero’, which means seasoning. Heavy reading that, but lightly battered.
I’m not sure whether they used ice water or soda / sparkling water in their batter, it’s hard to tell as I’m not a f*cking scientist, but what I do know is the latter is used to aerate the batter and make it lighter. Speaking of sparkling water, there’s only two types of people that drink this TV Static, Pins & Needles down your throat, Lemonade wannabe, and that’s either serial killers or nonces. Pop them on the list of people you can’t trust, along with those who collect Garden Gnomes.
If water is so nice, why do you need to make it fizzy. I’ve got people telling me that all water tastes different. Sure, if you’re drinking it straight from the River Nile, then you have a bottle of Strathmore, it’s less likely to taste like human sh*t, but whether you’re buying still or sparkling from a bottle, it tastes of nothing, and that, ladies & gentleman, is probably why I’m a plus size model these days.
There’s a food reviewer on the loose, who recently sent a Battered Mars Bar up into space, yep, you guessed it, they were Scottish. Not content with just battering it, they actually wanted to send it to Mars. I generally have to question a lot of things these days, but this took the p*ss, like a McCatheter. Needles to say, I didn’t waste my time in watching this pointless event, and I’m not watching the sequel either, where they send a bottle of Irn-Bru in a Submarine, down to The Mariana Trench.
Up next were the Smoked Brie Croquettes, with Homemade Red Onion Chutney & Salad (£8.25).
Part of the charm of WHI’s food, is everything being done in house, not only with love, but refinement, with the landlords adopting a real hands-on approach to the Food, and Service.
“They’ve got to trust me – I’m taking these guys into battle, yeah? And I’m doing my own stapling.”
To finish what we started, we had a dish that Freddo could sample, and he absolutely loved them, I didn’t really get a look in but to be fair, the bit that I did try was unctuous, with little creamy pockets of Brie in and amongst the fantastically seasoned potato.
The only real negative’s I could pick up on from the Starter’s were a couple of tiny errors in either missing components, or replacement items from the descriptions, like providing mayo instead of sweet chilli sauce with the Prawns, but as I said, minor things that really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and considering this is their first menu since re-opening only a few weeks ago, I expect a lot from the future here, specifically after speaking to the new Landlord’s about their vision.
Just before I head on to the main event, I got to try this XXX rated Mac & Cheese, which, despite being Freddo’s favourite dish of all time, also contained one of his most feared foods…Mushrooms.
Wild Mushroom & White Truffle Mac & Cheese, served with Garlic Bread & Salad – £16.50.
This was a real treat, and certainly not for kids. Your nipper might well like mushroom and truffle, and in that case, I’d just tell them it’s too spicy for them, like I also say to my dog, so you can then indulge in the whole bowl yourselves. Thank me later.
“Let’s get down to business,
I don’t got no time to play around, what is this”
The Messy Burger may not sound appealing, and on first glance, it was presented in this fashion. I’m not sure why exactly, as pieced together, it forms like Voltron, and becomes Beauty & The Yeast.
When you get a burger from a decent pub like this, you expect a supersized patty, as they’re wanting to show off the quality of meat they use. In this case, it’s no different, with WHI using a nice, rich, Beef mince from Hampshire butchers, Owton’s.
The mince is mixed with a blend of herbs and spices, and then hand pressed, all in house. The most prominent flavour I could taste is Oregano, or as our Yank friends say, ‘Oregano’. Same word, different pronunciation, it’s like ‘Vigo’ Road all over again. Great, now I’m triggered! Might have to bring in some Gun Laws when writing these reviews. It’s Coriander, not Cilantro. Aubergine, not Eggplant. Tap, not Fossit. I’m kidding, I bloody love America, and I’ve been in some right States.
As I previously mentioned, the beef had a nice, rich flavour to it, bordering on tasting gamy. Whilst I appreciate that can’t be the case, I believe that WHI will be celebrating Game on their menus, as it evolves seasonally, and it makes total sense, given the affluent demographic that likely frequents their pub.
With a soft, mellow, Blue Sheep’s Cheese, proper salty Bacon, and their fantastically sweet Caramelised Red Onion Chutney, this burger wasn’t a struggle to devour, despite it being quite sizeable. The Chutney is like a Marmalade, and when asking Kyle about it, he told how to make it, not that I remember, but I wouldn’t be telling you either, even if I didn’t have Owtzheimer’s.
“Well, surely it’s going to be worse for morale in the long run when there ARE redundancies and you’ve told people that there won’t be.”
[pause] “They won’t remember.”
I know you aren’t ignoring those Giant Paul Bunyan Rings on top either! This dish doubled up as entertainment, so you can either play a game of Hoopla, or pretend you’re an angel by using it as a Halo, like I did. Don’t get me wrong, I know how to behave normally, but you’re only as old as the company you keep, and I’m out with Freddo.
“You’re acting like a petulant little kid.”
[shrugs] “Young at Hart.”
Good quality buns on display here, although I seem to remember that both sides were grilled, which I raised as a topic of conversation on my blog, about personal preference. I wasn’t necessarily over keen on having both sides grilled buttttttt, it certainly allows a bit of purchase, and enables the burger to maintain its structural integrity.
“Look, this is the sort of work we’re doing. Cartoons. “Does my bum look big in these?” It’s not sexist that’s the bloke saying it… at last.”
Lastly, the Chips were aight, and the homemade coleslaw rounded off my meal nicely, so all in all, some fantastic nosh, and food that has raised the bar in my quest for the best burger.
When assessing the burger specifically, and how it fairs against the rest of the competition, it’s certainly up there, so I’ll give you the money myself. Is it to my own personal preference, or idea of what the best burger is, maybe not, but it’s someone’s idea of what great typically is. The rest of their food is ultimately what they should be known for, and certainly what I’ll take away from this great experience.
I have to compare this burger against the best so far, which was the Poplar. Does it top that? Will it take top spot? Drum rolllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll please! Unfortunately, not on this occasion but, it nestles firmly in second place with a solid 8.4, that’s the score! All still to play for. My reasoning is hard to explain, but when you take a bite out of a burger, you just know. I personally think I’m yet to find the one, unlike Mark Corrigan, but I’m certainly having the best time trying.
I’d give the rest of the food here a 9.1, and highly recommend you pay Kyle, Amie ,and the rest of their team at The White Hart Inn a visit, but please remember, support is not just for Christmas, it’s for life.
Finally, I’d like to say, ‘Big ups Creed!’, the moonwalking dog who gave me a high five.
Always remember, “Don’t say I didn’t tell ya!”
Freddie’s Funny Story:
Whilst sat down at our table, Freddo came out with not one, but two absolute screamers. Not sure how we got on the topic, but he came out with, “Can you grow cheese?”, which left me absolutely howling like a banshee. When telling one of my best friends, killjoy that he is, and sparkling water enthusiast, he gave it the “Well, technically you can…”. Not interested!
Secondly, as Freddo was tucking into his Gammon, Egg & Chips, clearly struggling due to the feast they had bestowed upon us, he says, “My eyes are smaller than my belly”. Genius or imbecile, you decide…