Pulling into the White Hart’s spacious car park, I was greeted with a mass of empty bays and only a handful of vehicles.
Due to an apparent lack of custom, I was almost expecting to walk through the door and find a distinctly unimpressive, run down pub.
But I could not have been further from the truth.
The minute you walk through the door, you are greeted by a warm and welcoming atmosphere, with everything from the décor to the young and enthusiastic bar staff instantly making you feel at home.
At first, the bar itself feels almost out of place though. Surrounded by wall-mounted paintings and dozens of old books stacked on nearby shelves, I didn’t know whether I had walked into a pub, an art gallery or a library.
Once you get a feel for the place though, the White Hart is a fantastic pub.
Under new ownership since 2006, the White Hart has witnessed its fair share of changes, with an overhaul of the menu and the introduction of friendly table service helping to transform the pub into a village gem.
The menu itself wouldn’t be wholly out of place on one of the bookshelves – it takes a good few minutes to read the food list in its entirety – but it certainly seems to work.
The four lunches that emerged from the kitchen during my short visit were all completely different, but each and every one looked and smelt mouth-watering.
And the pies, pasta and scampi that caught my eye didn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
The White Hart also offers pub favourites like sausages and mash and fish and chips, alongside rump steak, duck and crab.
What’s more, it’s all reasonably priced, with main meals starting at £7.95 and a glass of wine available for as little as £2.60.
Venturing outside into the beer garden, it is easy to see why deputy manager John Farmer says that most of their custom comes in the summer.
There’s a small play area for children and a separate annex containing a skittles room, which can be used by customers or rented out for private functions.
Come the summer months, something tells me that finding a space in that car park won’t be quite so easy.
• The White Hart, Old Romsey Road, Cadnam, SO40 2NP.
Tel: 023 8081 2277.