Bites: In search of a hart of gold

Of the many White Harts around the country, which give best bang for your bucks?

The White Hart Inn, 51 Stockport Road, Lydgate, Oldham (01457 872566) Daily lunch and dinner. Some pub, this. The historic inn is rated one of the top places to eat in the Manchester area, and has won awards for food in its restaurant and brasserie. It also houses the Saddleworth Sausage Company, whose bangers are sold in the brasserie (with crushed new-potato mash, no less) and to take home. Oysters, cod tempura, roast duck with wok-fried veg are alternatives to sausages. For Sunday lunches in the restaurant, expect fine, modern classical cooking for pounds 16.

The Old White Hart, Lyddington, near Uppingham, Leicestershire (01572 821703) Daily lunch and dinner. An agreeably rustic village pub with a walled garden beside the church. The Good Pub Guide rated it Leicestershire Dining Pub of the Year. Vignotte soft cheese and shallot tart; chicken fillet and creme brulee, or fine fish from the specials list such as Grimsby haddock or sea bass. Around pounds 17 for three courses.

The White Hart, Fyfield, Oxfordshire (01865 390585) Daily lunch and dinner. An ancient former chantry house consists of several medieval rooms for drinking This isn't one of the fanciest food pubs, but it goes well beyond bar food. The menu encompasses steak-and-mushroom pie and venison casserole, duck breast with Chinese spices, orange, prune and honey sauce and tuna steaks. Starters from soup to king prawns cost pounds 2.95, mains are pounds 8-10.

The White Hart Inn, Ford, near Chippenham, Wiltshire (01249 782213) Daily lunch and dinner. The setting's idyllic: a 16th-century pub with a terrace beside a stream, and peacocks in the garden. Food's impressive: the set-price weekday lunch for pounds 9.95 (two courses) might start with chicken liver parfait and grape chutney, and end with lemon cheesecake and strawberry ice cream. Thai curry or a roast are around pounds 6. Dinner might include pork terrine, braised lamb shank or cod fillet with langoustine and fennel broth. Main courses are pounds 10-pounds 15. The range of drinks is outstanding, too.

The White Hart Inn, Hamstead Marshall, near Newbury, Berkshire (01488 658201) Mon-Sat lunch and dinner. Hardly a traditional inn - it serves only Italian food, although there's British beer along with Italian wines. Home-made bread and pasta, organic meat and veggies mark it out from most pubs - and even Italian restaurants. Around pounds 18-pounds 20 a head.

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