With its names-sake deriving from King Richard II – who used the White Stag on his Coat of Arms. The White Hart is a cross between a (modern) English cabin and a cozy boutique cocktail bar. Situated a stones throw from The Oaks, and nestled next to Pony, on the funky Grosvenor Street strip in Neutral Bay.
The bar is divided into two sections. The front (street facing) lounge section is decorated with low tables, leather lounges, royal blue velvet tub chairs, and a scattering of small, padded stools. Food in this section is limited to tapas, and complementary parmesan salt popcorn. The back section is set up for those looking for a more substantial meal. Dinner in this section runs in two services at 6:30pm and 8:30pm. Then as diners vacate their seats, drinkers can jump in and stake their claim (as is typically the case on most busy nights).
Being of British heritage, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the bar specialises (amongst other things) in gin. Quinn, our super friendly and knowledgeable, barman reveled in the fact that most of the gins behind the bar were not of standard fare – nawt a Tanquaray (or Hendricks for that matter) could be found in this establishment. With boutique gins such as Bathtub, Edinburgh and SW4 all taking pride of place. As do the barrels of home brewed, spiced mead which is served up in flagons – the skull and crossbones marking the OP variety for those game for something a little stronger.
Cocktails are another specialty. Co-owner, and hospitality legend, Grant Collins took six months to come up with the “Breakfast Mojito”. Rather than combine all the individual elements in a shaker, Collins takes the ‘deconstructed’ Mojito ingredients and reconstructs them in a bizarre and delightful manner. For example, you start out with a toothbrush and mojito toothpaste, which you brush your mouth with. Then you ‘rinse’ your mouth with a rum and mint mouthwash, add some candied mint leaf and fizz powder for zing, and wash it all down with a citrus and rum ‘cleanser’ – outstanding!
Surprisingly, despite the substantial wine and cocktail selection, it seemed slightly odd that an English themed bar, would be so light in the beer/cider department. Only one cider (Aspall) was to be found on the menu, and the bottled beer selection was a tad underwhelming (there was no draft beer available).
The kitchen is headed up by Danny Russo, one of Sydney’s most acclaimed modern Italian chefs, known for cutting his teeth at L’Unico, Lo Studio and The Beresford. The menu is varied and typically English. Covering classics such as chicken curry (with lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime), good old lager battered fish and chips with mushy peas and tatare sauce, to roast beef, yorkshire pud and all the trimmings. Alas, on our visit we didn’t get to sample the menu, but if we were, my pick would be the slow confit pork belly, carrot puree, black pudding and apple cider jus.
Bar service was everything you could want for in a great small bar – fast, friendly and knowledgeable.
<Update – Regrettably the White Hart has closed permanently>