A typical country pub in a typical country location with pleasant gardens and good positioning for the walks around King Alfred's Tower at the head of the Stourhead estate.
Accessibility is poor with a high kerb outside and steps around the pub with a narrow passageway into the restaurant. There is sloped access towards the WCs from the garden but there are still steps to be navigated to actually get into them. Some ramps are available on request.
This is a traditional style pub with a bluff landlord and efficient if informal staff, muzak hangs in the air in the way that cigarette smoke used to. A local artist's work is displayed on the walls as are other suitable artefacts. The pub is very much geared towards food but there is still space for drinkers. We eat there regularly and the kitchen staff handle my wheat allergy well.
My trio of smoked fish was not as exciting as I've had there in the past when unusual varieties have been included but the hot-smoked mackeral and trout and the cold-smoked salmon were Ok if not special. Mrs Riverdale's chicken liver paté with orange was excellent.
Lamb chops were cooked just as I like them with a hint of pink in the meat, the marmalade sauce (do we have a theme here?) was a dominated by the strength of the gravy base, maybe a chicken base would have worked better, and dauphinoise potatoes which were excellent. The accompanying vegetables; grated carrots, braised red cabbage and broccoli, were properly cooked but a little uninteresting. The beef madras curry was good but not very spicy (although they will 'perk' it up if requested) with pretty good rice for a pub, accompanied by a fairly ordinary naan bread and sweet mango chutney.
There are always a couple of gluten-free puddings here as the landlords wife makes towering fruit and chocolate 'pavlovas' but there was also a pleasant dark chocolate and orange (yes, we have a theme) mousse which I enjoyed and a lighter chocolate torte, unusual as the biscuity base was actually crumbled across the top with a spoonful of ice-cream (Mrs Riverdale chose ginger and honey) which was pronounced 'Yummy'.
An excellent Lirac accompanied and an expresso coffee to finish was also good.
The beer, usually Butcombe with another 'guest', is pretty good and the handful of wines by the glass are adequate if not exceptional, as is the espresso coffee.
Table settings in the bar are the usual pub type with paper serviettes wrapped around the cutlery but linen napkins and laid places are provided in the restaurant. Why not in the pub as well?
At just under £70 for two this lies around the mid-range of other, similar eateries in the area but portions are more generous than in some other places. This is very much pub food and not fine dining but they do what they intend and do it well.
As I said we eat here regularly, and will continue to do so, although our visits may become less frequent as other places are beginning to provide classier food more cheaply. But I like the place and the people, and there is no better place locally to get generous portions of well-prepared food in a good atmosphere.