The Tab Durham Reviews White Church: It’s basically Flat White but a pub
Is the new Flat White really worth all the hype?
Is it even worth writing this review? It seems churlish not to. Unless you have been living under a rock, you already know that a new Flat White, under the name White Church has opened where the New Inn used to be.
Gone is the old pub decor, and in its place are exposed brick walls, sturdy wooden tables, and of course fairy lights in the outdoor seating area. Also gone is the old standard pub fare and stale coffee, and now White Church are offering perfectly poached eggs, and indulgent cakes, as well as some more innovative lunch and dinner options.
This being a branch of Flat White it seemed fitting to go for a classic Saturday brunch. It's important to note, that unlike the other locations of Flat White, the menu is different at the weekend, so instead of offering a separate breakfast and lunch menu, they only offer brunch then dinner.
Another crucial difference is that the restaurant area (as opposed to the cafe area) takes reservations, so there is no more need to wait half an hour in the rain for your poached eggs!
This also means that when we walked in and asked for a table for three, we were told we would have to be out within the hour. This wasn't a problem for us (and was rectified by a table leaving soon after we arrived) but is something to keep in mind for those visiting in the near future.
One aspect I was really pleased with, was that the menu wasn't just a carbon copy of Flat White. No more are the avocado toasts and stacks of pancakes, and instead there are a variety of classic brunch offerings that have been reimagined to bring them up to date, and to align with the building's past as a pub.
I ordered the grilled halloumi (pictured above) and despite it being a simple dish I could replicate at home, it was still a delicious plate of food. The eggs were (as expected) perfectly poached, and the avocado was absolutely ripe. The red pepper ketchup was the aspect that I was unsure about, but it was actually a lovely fresh accompaniment to what would have otherwise been a very rich dish.
My friends ordered the mushrooms on toast (pictured in the cover photo) and the black pudding cassoulet (above) and were equally impressed with the food.
In some ways this is no surprise, considering this is what Flat White always excelled at – simple food, executed well – and this is what has been replicated at White Church. I would however be interested in going back for dinner to see how well their meals come together when the plates can't be topped off with a pair of eggs, but that is a review for another day.
I am going to be honest, the restaurant is lovely. It fulfils all of my most basic urges that also make me take Instagrams of every aesthetic meal I eat.
The tables are wooden, and the interior is very light and airy. The counter has marble topping, and the outdoor area is surrounded by the large fairy lights, now synonymous with making a restaurant cool.
They haven't overfilled it with tables, instead choosing to have a small restaurant area, and use the rest of the floor space for a cafe style service. In part this leads to the above issue of not having enough tables, but on the other hand means that the service they can provide is really excellent.
The only real negatives are things that I would say are teething options. They don't yet have a telephone number so if you want to book a table, you will have to go in person; similarly they don't have WiFi. All of these issues will likely be fixed within the next few weeks as the restaurant gets into the swing of things, and none were really detrimental to the experience.
Honestly, it's another Flat White. From the decor to the poached eggs, it really does feel as if Flat White just placed its essence into pub form, and then reopened. But with the lack of food options once you walk higher up the hill than the SU, and the library cafe currently closed, I don't think that that's a bad thing at all.
The Durham Tab's Restaurant Rating
Value: 6/10 (eggs on toast are far cheaper at home but not even nearly as aesthetic)