Getting away from it all doesn’t always mean escaping; sometimes it just means discovering something new. A great example of this lies just two hours north of New York City in the quintessential New England town of Salisbury, Connecticut. The restaurant and tap room at the recently restored White Hart Inn are quickly becoming favorites for locals and visitors, clearly demonstrating that word is spreading about Chef Annie Wayte‘s British-inspired cuisine.
Although a fixture in Connecticut’s Northwest corner for over 200 years, the White Hart Inn has evolved from prior notable owners, like Edsel Ford (an alumnus of nearby Hotchkiss School) and tea maker John Harney who got his start crafting blends in the inn’s basement. As much as the hotel has changed over the years, one constant is that the bar and restaurant both continue to serve as gathering places for NYC weekenders, parents visiting their children at nearby boarding schools, and locals connecting over their favorite libations. And Chef Annie Wayte hasn’t missed a beat.
Photo Credit: Lee Clower
Mastering the perfect pastry crust by nine-years-old, Chef Wayte went on to pick up many core skills at Michelin-starred restaurants like Clarke’s Restaurant in London. Then it was on to the esteemed 202 Café in London, which she replicated in NYC before joining the White Hart team in 2014.
Wayte is quick to point out that British gastronomy was a disaster 25-30 years ago. “Now it is on par with the world’s [finest], making London one of the best restaurant cities in the world. While chefs like Fergus Henderson, Mark Hix, and Jason Atherton elevated quality British foodstuffs like Bramley Apples, Seakale, Langoustines, and Clotted Cream, the real credit goes to farmers, fishermen and ranchers producing these key ingredients. If you haven’t tasted real Devonshire clotted cream on a freshly baked scone with English strawberry jam then you are certainly missing out.”
Photo Credit: Steve Mirsky
Menu staples in the White Hart Inn’s tap room include accessible tavern-style English fare like Scotch Eggs, Devils on Horseback, and the classic Fish & Chips. “I’m really fortunate to have amazing partners that give me free reign on the menu here at White Hart. Having sunk many a pint in the Tap Room over the last decade, I am sensitive to the fact that it belongs to our local customers. It is their pub.”
In the dining room, diners will be greeted by hardwood floors that softly contrast with cream-colored wainscot paneled walls, which are sporadically graced by paintings from local artists (like Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, Terry Winters, and Tom Levine). A long wooden table in the center is surrounded by rustic dining tables covered with white tablecloths, adding elegance without pretension. A working fireplace warms the space during colder weather.
Photo Credit: Lee Clower
“I wanted to take our dining here a step further with dishes like roasted pork rack with foie gras butter and grilled swordfish with freekeh, baby beets, and pickled ramps.” Regardless of which dish you pick though, just about everything is made from scratch using fresh ingredients that are sourced from local purveyors whenever possible. “We’ve put a lot of time and energy into building a really broad list of wines from small producers at gentle price points and our draft beers are all local New England and New York craft produced,” Chef Wayte adds.
The tap room is open Monday-Thursday for lunch and dinner, while the dining room is open Friday-Sunday for dinner and Sunday-morning brunch.
Photo Credit: John GruenPhoto Credit: Lee ClowerPhoto Credit: John GruenPhoto Credit: John GruenPhoto Credit: John GruenPhoto Credit: John Gruen