DINNER at the Crown at Royal Wootton Bassett was a blast – a blast from the past.
Flares and groovy wallpaper were absent, but the menu, with classics like the shrimp cocktail, scampi, and Kiev chicken, was a wonderful trip back to the 1970s.
We decided to give the hotel a try on the recommendation of a friend. It was a damp and moody Saturday night, but the welcome we received from the staff was warm and friendly.
The bar was quiet except for a few chatting Irish customers. After ordering our drinks at the bar – two pints of Estrella and a cola for the driver – we were shown to our table by the window.
Around us there were signs saying that the pub had been redecorated quite recently, although it mostly remained the traditional wood-paneled walls and the style of horse brass. There was a lovely fireplace adorned with a wood-burning stove, but while there were some logs ready next to it, the stove was not lit.
What we noticed was that the place was clean and there was no sign of dust.
We decided to go for all three entrees – the aforementioned shrimp cocktail, the garlic mushrooms, and the soup of the day.
There was a bit of a wait but it didn’t bother us. Another group of diners arrived and sat next to us in the raised area away from the main road through the bar. Their conversation quickly turned to the depressing topic of Brexit. Fortunately, our entrees arrived to distract us.
One of us is a chef and although we brought him with us for a break from his daily work, we were interested to know what he thought of the food placed in front of him. He had opted for the shrimp cocktail which was served in a tall stemmed glass with a few slices of bread. It was simple and the sauce wasn’t too sweet, but he was disappointed to find margarine in the butter dish instead of the real one.
I had chosen the garlic mushrooms and was delighted to see that they weren’t covered in breadcrumbs as I half expected. It is a simple dish, but very tasty if done well. Mine came with a salad and two slices of bread. I enjoyed him very much, but I didn’t think he needed bread.
My partner had a bowl of cauliflower soup. It was thick and had a good flavor and here the bread was handy.
We had chosen a steak, a fish and chips and a burger for our main courses. Again simple food that is easy to spoil. My partner’s steak was a nice piece of meat cooked just the way he liked it, accompanied by big fries and nice, crispy onion rings. The homemade beer batter around my cod was also crisp and the flesh was not flaky at all. The chef was happy with his burger, which accompanied the bacon and cheese, but the bun was too crumbly.
Dessert was panettone brioche pudding, chocolate fudge cake and syrup sponge – all comfort food especially the panettone (our chef’s choice) and the sponge which were light and sweet.
The menu was unpretentious and our meals reflected that. Simple, well-cooked dishes. The presentation was not perfect, but we still emptied our plates.
If there was one thing we marked as an area for improvement, it was the fact that we couldn’t buy Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio was only available in one-glass bottles. We couldn’t argue with the price though. A locally sourced 8-ounce sirloin steak at £ 16.95 was the most expensive main course and on the other end of the scale was veggie and beef lasagna at £ 7.75.
O: The Crown Hotel, High Street, Royal Wootton Bassett.
PHONE: 01793 852228
TRAVEL ADVISOR RATING: 3.5
PARKING: On the street
DISABLED ACCESS: Yes