The New Hospitality
There is a big focus on the pub garden and restaurant terrace as hospitality reopens with alfresco dining from 12th April. However the new hospitality is not just about garden pods, outside bars and pizza ovens. Hospitality venues that are reopening over the coming weeks are refreshed, revitalised and redesigned, not only to meet social distancing requirements, but also to deliver a style of hospitality that accommodates the expectations of a new generation of hybrid lifestyler.
While much of hospitality fully closed during lockdown, owners of bars and restaurants have been busy planning how to reshape and refurbish their premises, mindful of new requirements post-lockdown. Take The White Horse in Otterbourne, a village between Winchester and Eastleigh. This is one of the Ideal Collection, a small group of individual pubs and cafes (the others are The Bugle, Hamble; Kimbridge Barn, near Romsey; and two Boat House cafes - one in Swanwick Marina and the other in Chichester Marina).
The White Horse has long been a popular local with a great reputation for its food. It also had a traditional pub appearance - comfortable yet dark. Well, no more. The interiors have been transformed. Gone is the dark slate flooring, replaced with conservatory-style patterned tiles. High back buttoned armchairs are out; low, mid-century chairs are in - creating seating areas that look more 21st century home boutique than 18th century coaching inn. A wall of exposed brickwork has been painted light-reflecting white. The overall effect is bright and welcoming.
The refurbished White Horse will be as much a hub as pub. A casual café vibe during the day, with cakes on the bar and a choice of coffees and loose leaf teas, will attract local home workers. Plus a new retail offering will not only include delicious chutneys, jams, oils, dressings, gins and fizz from Hampshire Fare producers, but stylish retro and vintage homeware from Consortium.
Until The White Horse opens fully on 17th May, diners can enjoy the gardens which have also been given an inviting makeover. Available from 12th April, on the front terrace pergola-covered dining areas festooned with lights and garden ‘pods’ with individual heat-lamps (seating up to six people or two households) can be booked. In the rear garden there is another dining terrace with seating under a pergola where people can order via app or an outside bar. The opening menu, featuring seasonal ingredients and local produce, will include crowd-pleasing pub classics, such as burgers, and fish and chips, relaxed brunch choices, and for the first week the pizza oven will be fired up every day. In the months ahead watch out for new tempting daily specials.
It is about not just reopening, but providing a new, special experience. It’s what we all need. The pub isn’t dead; it’s just been completely reimagined and taken to the next level. The White Horse is an example of the new hosptiality venue - whether ( come May) you want a pint and nibbles at the bar, coffee and cake during the day, or a tasty meal out. Let’s drink (and eat) to that.
Find out which other Hampshire Fare hospitality members are opening where and when HERE.
Picture: The White Horse's front terrace, where bookable garden pods with heat lamps and fairy lights deliver a new 'dining out' experience.