Impressive new option for fine dining in the city

Antlers Restaurant

Address: The White Hart Hotel, Bailgate

Telephone: 01522 526222


Starters from £5.95
Main courses from £14.95
Sides £5
Desserts from £6

Words by:
Caroline Bingham
Featured in:
April 2024

A warm welcome awaits you in Antlers Restaurant, a new à la carte dining choice at The White Hart Hotel. Caroline Bingham and guest visited last month.

The refurbishment of The White Hart, which began in spring 2023, saw the re-opening of this landmark hotel in the city’s Bailgate in November. The renovation has been from top to toe with exciting options for eating and drinking in the Cathedral Quarter. The stylish Colonnade Cocktail Lounge offers a bar menu with seasonal small plates featuring local ingredients as well as drinks, and hosts live music on some evenings. The Gibson Club Bar overlooks the cobbles of Bailgate and showcases the skills of the hotel mixologist as well as a curated selection of wines. Further phases are in progress including a rooftop terrace bar which promises stunning views of the Cathedral.

Our mission was to sample the à la carte menu in Antlers Restaurant, created by head chef Chris Punter and his kitchen cohort. We visited early on a weekday evening and already the room was filling with fellow diners – always a good sign. The dining room offers combinations of chair and booth seating so after our welcome by the restaurant manager, I settled into the corner banquette while my guest took the chair. The décor has the feel of a club with rich leather upholstery and an overhead lit collection of art on the walls. Fresh vases of flowers and parquet flooring add to the elegance. The serving team are friendly and enthusiastic, so we placed our drinks order and studied the menu.

Chris has been inspired by local growers and their ingredients, sourcing from within Lincolnshire where possible. We grazed on a board of sourdough and some delicious hand rolled flavoured butters while we made our choices.

To start I opted for charred goats cheese served with macerated figs, walnut and sourdough crisp bread while my companion chose crispy pork belly served with blackberry, apple and celeriac. Other starters included crab pate, salmon gravadlax, pan fried pigeon or spiced pumpkin soup. This was a generous starter for me. The charring not only added warmth but also a caramelisation to offset the richness of the cheese. Fig is the perfect accompaniment to the intense ‘goatiness’ for me, so my meal has begun well.

My guest again tucked into a generous portion of belly pork and particularly enjoyed the blackberry and celeriac which accompanied the dish.

Our next courses had required more consideration for as well as a mains selection there were classics, salads and steaks from the grill. The table next to us were served a fillet steak and beef Wellington – both of which were perfectly cooked. We opted for pan fried halibut served with curry sauce, tempura cauliflower and pak choi for myself and chicken Milanese, served with parmentier potato and truffle parmesan cream for my fellow diner. We ordered a side dish of baby root vegetables cooked in maple syrup and nutmeg.

My halibut was perfectly cooked; soft, white and meaty, which the curry sauce did not overwhelm. I did not find the three pieces of pickled vegetable on top of the fish necessary but they did add colour to the plate. The sweetness of the root vegetables also worked well with the dish. The chicken was the most familiar dish on the menu, other than perhaps the battered haddock, but was perfectly cooked and very satisfying.

Other dishes on the main menus which appealed to me were: pan seared duck breast served with celeriac, cherries and confit leg croquette and pearl barley risotto served with dashi and black sesame.

Those are for another day.

We took a breather at this point and chatted to one of our servers. They were eager to hear our feedback on the dishes and how we were enjoying our evening so far.

It also gave me chance to explore the restaurant a bit further. Our table was towards the front of the restaurant which led to another area with tables either side of the room. At the far end are glass doors which open onto a private dining area which can be isolated for guests wanting to celebrate a special occasion and more intimacy.

We finished our meal with a couple of delicious desserts. I opted for malt chocolate tart with Guanaja chocolate, toasted marshmallow and muscovado crumb. What a luxurious treat with which to end the meal. My guest chose banana soufflé, served with toffee ice cream and banana bread. Absolutely wonderful was the verdict on this dessert, from the perfectly cooked and presented soufflé to the moist banana bread.

Although we did not sample any wines there is a comprehensive choice listed in easily accessible groupings by style and all available from 125ml measures to bottles.

We had enjoyed a memorable meal in stylish surroundings which will bring us back again, especially to try some of those other tempting dishes. Antlers Restaurant is also open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and Sunday lunch. Be sure to book to reserve your table to avoid disappointment if you visit on spec.

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