Situated in the pretty Wylye Valley this isn't the most attractive inn in the neighbourhood and the owners are the first to admit that some refurbishing is due, but it has held a reasonable reputation for many years and after a dip the new management is working hard to return that reputation, although some of the regular drinkers there may disagree if local gossip is anything to go by. Access is pretty good, even if the slope up to the front door is steep. I didn't notice a dedicated WC but both the ladies and gents are on the level.
A friendly welcome greeted us, service was informal and Ok. The dining room was 2/3rds full but, being a south facing conservatory, was very bright so we decided to eat in the bar. We were the only diners in the bar although the small dining room off it was occupied.
We both decided on the beef carpaccio which elicited slightly different reactions, MrsSRD was delighted with it but I thought that there was too much greenery piled on top, it obscured the meat almost entirely. I thought the salad stuff unnecessary as the dish came with warm, roasted root vegetables and was dressed with crumbled Cashel Blue cheese, balsamic vinegar and honey. The beef, though beautifully prepared, was a little light on flavour; longer hung meat, and from a decent breed, would have been better. It was good though.
I had the sea bass fillets with chorizo puy lentils, rosti potato and salsa verde. The sea bass was a tad, but only a tad, overcooked for me, the lentils good but uninspiring, the rosti a nice addition and the salsa verde a good, sharp, contrast to the earthy flavours of the lentils. However I think the lentils actually overpowered the fish, in my opinion sea bass needs a lighter treatment. It was enjoyable though.
MrsSRD had fish and chips. The fish, haddock on this occasion, was nicely cooked, the batter crispy and light, the chips chunky, the tartare sauce excellent (homemade? it was packed with bits) but the creamed fresh peas were a bit on the dry side, later the chef admitted a little more cream in the mix might not go amiss.
There was little in the way of wheatfree/ice free desserts so I
settled for coffee; cafetiere only and not very interesting, accompanied
by a couple of those pepperminty rounds of chocolate that so many pubs dish
MrsSRD chose the strawberry cheesecake, she wasn't very impressed with it, all solid fluff and little flavour although the biscuit base was good. The accompanying blackcurrant sorbet was superb.
The website suggests '... at least three three carefully selected real ales ...', a bold statement, especially as only two were available (actually the whole website needs revamping, the wine list is certainly inaccurate), the Hop Back brewery GFB I sampled was good though. A glass of Italian chardonnay was good; light and refreshing, the house French red; rustic enough for the lentils.
At just over £60 (with a £12 bar bill including a Jack Daniels) it's what I'd expect to pay for food of this quality in this part of the world.
Another good lunch in pleasant surroundings, the food and service were good enough to encourage us to return when we are in the area but maybe not good enough to make us travel there as a destination.