Following a complete overhaul by a team of industry veterans, White Horse reopens on Sydney’s Crown Street today, now featuring a ground-floor restaurant, upstairs public bar and garden terrace, and intimate private function rooms.

The reboot of the 170-capacity venue was led by director Craig Hemmings, whose hospitality credentials include Bilsons, Quay, Chin Chin Sydney, Guillaume at Bennelong, Bistro Guillaume and Black by Ezard.

“We’re thrilled to bring this old girl back to life. We’ve approached the White Horse with a contemporary lens, elevating the offering without the price tag,” Hemmings said.

The food offering is headed by executive chef Jed Gerrard (Wildflower, Ritz-Carlton Perth, Hearth, Como The Treasury), who also holds the position of culinary director at Wills Domain in Margaret River.

The menu Gerrard curated for White Horse opens with dishes like smoked eel dip, roasted chicken skin with liver mousse and Davidson plum, and veal tongue French toast. Mains include Berkshire pork jowl with sugarloaf cabbage and nashi pear, and toothfish glazed in squid ink. Sides and snacks are also available, such as grilled brassicas with Bay of Fires cheddar, a beetroot mille-feuille with muntries and native thyme, and creamed warrigal greens. For dessert, guests can opt for brie ice-cream with quince and sandalwood nuts, or Riesling custard with desert lime frozen yoghurt. A four-course set menu is available for $75 per person.

“My focus is on the smart use of great ingredients so our guests can enjoy dishes that deliver more than they expected. Ethically sourced produce from respected producers forms the backbone of our menu, and native ingredients also have a strong showing,” Gerrard said.

The brains behind the beverage offering are wine consultant James Audas (Lo-Fi Wines, Bar Heather, Noma, Tetsuya’s) and cocktail consultant Michael Chiem (PS40, Bulletin Place, Sokyo). Rounding out the White Horse team is general manager Maureen Er (Manly Greenhouse, Tetsuya’s, Cho Cho San).

Half of the wines on Audas’s 100-strong wine list hark from Australia and New Zealand, including labels like Das Juice, Jauma and Dormilona, and the other half of the list features old world European wines. With 16 by-the-glass options and more than 20 bottles priced below $80, the wine list reflects the venue’s pursuit of quality at a reasonable price. The list also echoes Gerarrd’s focus on farming and provenance, with many wines coming from organic, biodynamic, or regenerative producers. The wine list will change alongside the seasonal food menu.

“We will offer some more well-known names in the organic space alongside those that might be a new discovery for many. Some styles will be more classic drinking, and others are there to challenge and thrill,” Audas said.

Roasted chicken skin with liver mousse and Davidson plum

Chiem’s cocktail menu continues the theme of ingredient-focused offerings and incorporates a number of native ingredients. The menu features drinks such as the Bizzarrox PS40 strawberry and yuzu spritz, which is available on tap, the Queen’s Gambit (Davidson plum, white rum, Maraschino and lime), and the Shiro Old Fashioned (Enokido white miso caramel, whisky, crème de banane, angostura bitters). Two alcohol-free cocktails are available, both made with Seedlip.

The design was led by Farago Han Studio, the team behind The Waratah, who has created a unique identity for each of the venue’s spaces. The ground floor restaurant features a colour palette of soft, tactile neutrals inspired by Surry Hills’ sandstone bedrock. The seating features reclaimed French oak tables, Shaker-inspired solid timber Danish J39 chairs, and locally made Gus chairs with woven sling-leather seats in khaki and navy.

The public bar is lighter and airier, opening into the terrace garden and the 30-capacity event space. The surfaces feature bold colour choices such as the navy blue tables and dark green bar top made from Bizanto brushed quartz marble. Seating includes light blue leather tub chairs and saffron yellow wool and khaki velvet ottomans. The terrace includes both large- and small-scale plants, with light tones of camel and off-white adding to the breezy feel.

The upstairs menu continues to highlight quality produce, featuring Jerusalem artichokes with sheep’s cheese and saltbush, toasted brioche with liver mousse, black olive crumbed lamb cutlets, and Gerrard’s nod to classic pub fare, a Pardoo wagyu steak sandwich with French fries.

Reflecting the summery feel of the upstairs space, the cocktails lean on tropical and fruity flavours. The Billionaire is made with Giffard rhubarb, dark rum, fresh pomegranate and lime, and the smoky Continental is a bourbon-based cocktail with grapefruit juice, smoked maple and lemon.

“Relaxed, quality, and affordable is what we’re aiming for at the White Horse. We’re enormously proud of this venue and can’t wait to become part of the Surry Hills community,” director Hemmings said.

White Horse will initially operate with reduced hours, with the restaurant and public bar open Wednesday to Sunday from 5pm. Full trading hours will kick in after the first few weeks, including lunch and dinner services.

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