The White Horse opened its doors this autumn in Hampstead – this is a pub with twist, serving Lebanese cuisine seven days a week. We quized owner Sacha Kardar about the inspiration behind the north London local.

Describe Lebanese cuisine in three words…

Delicious, healthy and desirable.

What’s your first foodie memory?

Growing up it was a tradition to eat out every Sunday. Our entire family including close friends would book out a restaurant every week to eat, drink and socialise. I remember eating dolma (stuffed grape leaves with vegetables or meat) for the first time when I was a child, I couldn’t believe how tasty it was. It’s now one of my favourite dishes and very filling.Fleet Road Low res

Why did you decide to combine a pub atmosphere with Lebanese food?

I have always wanted to own a pub, as I love the atmosphere; however I knew that I wanted to open something with a more exotic feel. As there weren’t any Lebanese bars or restaurants in the area, combining the two was the perfect idea. Plus a lot of Lebanese dishes are considered finger foods such as falafel and rakkayat (deep fried cheese rolls) which goes very well with drinks – especially for those who want something light on a night out.

What drew you to North London, and Hampstead in particular?

I have lived in the area for 12 years and still find that it continues to draw in excitement. Hampstead in particular is so vibrant, yet it has a community spirit about it, which I love.

Does the menu include mezze style dishes for sharing?

Yes… Lebanese food is based on sharing especially with our mezzes dishes being the main part of our cuisine. We are famous for festive and good home cooking, so small dishes are a common form of eating – whether it’s for a light tapas-style lunch or a hearty evening meal.

NMP_0307 low res

What is your favourite dish on the menu?

They’re all lovely dishes! But if I had to choose, it would be the Mixed Grill and Tabboule salad. Simply delicious.

What is the secret ingredient to a great Lebanese dish?

The secret is knowing your ingredients and pairing them with the right spices and herbs to bring out the best in flavours. Garlic and onions are the most important ingredients for Lebanese cooking.

The pub blends traditional and contemporary style effortlessly – what were your design inspirations?

I enlisted help from my very good friend Magdalena Diab. She is a well-known decorator in Lebanon and is recognised for her great style and vision. I told her my idea and what I was hoping to achieve and she created what it is today. I’m always amazed by her work.

NMP_0297Tell us a bit about your food halls and hotel in Lebanon…

My ex-husband was one of the founders of Goodies, which is the biggest and renowned food caterer and delicatessen in Lebanon – very similar to the Harrods Food Hall in London. We were also shareholders of a luxury hotel chain Sofitel, famous for its big events. I was behind the catering, providing great food for large scale events and functions.

What can we look forward to at the White Horse?

Great food and entertainment. I’ll be introducing a food delivery service and who knows… possibly another pub.

The White Horse | 154 Fleet Road, Hampstead Heath, London NW3 2QX

Tube/Rail: Belsize Park, Hampstead Heath or Gospel Oak

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