It's not often you get a new pub open, so we dropped in on a Sunday to check out the area’s latest offering, on the A350 just outside Melksham itself.
Brewers Hall and Woodhouse hail from Dorset and have a reputation for good beer, so we were interested to see what their food was like, hoping it would be a step up from the usual chain pub offering. And so it proved.
Our first surprise was how popular the pub was – we should have booked a table. But the helpful staff found us somewhere and we settled down to admire the decor, best described as determinedly rustic, with an attempt to localise things with old photos of the area.
Having ordered drinks, we chose starters and mains: whitebait was a new experience for my son and he really enjoyed it, although his dad, who had recommended it as a favourite dish, said he thought it could have done with some bread and butter alongside. The little fish were pan, rather than deep, fried, but the lack of a batter coating didn’t spoil their enjoyment.
I went for cheese fondue, made with their own Tanglefoot beer. Although the pot of sauce was quite small, there was more than enough and you could really taste the beer. The stack of crisp veg for dipping was ample, and quite a few of the focaccia croutons made their way to the whitebait eaters.
My daughter chose buffalo chicken wings with an Asian sauce, and these too came with crudités and a sour cream dip. She said the Asian flavour was quite pronounced and tasty. All the starter portions were generous and the offering includes several sharing boards.
Main courses arrived promptly: the parmesan chicken was excellent, though the spicy sauce was more like a portion of Mediterranean-style vegetables on top. Praise too for the glazed rump steak, with more beer, Blandford Flyer this time, mixed with smoky barbecue sauce. It came cooked medium, exactly as ordered, and the meat was tender and delicious, again with a serving of fries and a pot of coleslaw.
I’d asked for the lamb kofte, which meant the starter portion was upsized with pitta bread and extra salad. In contrast to the generous starter portions, I could have done with a few more leaves to accompany the spicy meat. Our final choice was a beef burger, which came with a tin can full of chips.
We all agreed the quality of the food was excellent, but this was not a place for giant portions. The Sunday lunches coming out of the kitchen looked to have the largest portions on offer.
Some of us had room for pudding, and the toffee apple tart, chocolate ice cream and a mini portion of trifle went down a treat. Here portion sizes were more generous again.
Our bill, for four of us with drinks came in at £80 – excellent value considering three of us had had three courses.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 11am-11pm,
Free wi-fi available,
Children welcome, outdoor play area,
Large car park,