EAT AT: The Running Horse, Wootton Bassett Road, Swindon, SN1 4NQ

Tel: (01793) 523903 or go to

WHEN one is dining with one’s teenage sons, one finds it wise not to present their juvenile palettes with anything too challenging or sophisticated in case one loses one’s rag when they enquire whether the delicate fillet of sea bass comes “wiv chips”.

My children are not big fans of fine dining and I have been caught out before – with them nudging me furiously under the table to indicate their disapproval of the menu and me pulling a stern face to indicate my disapproval of them.

These days I err on the side of caution, and one look at the menu for The Running Horse told me I was onto a safe bet.

There is nothing fancy or surprising on offer here: it is what it is. But what it is is piled high, tasty enough and relatively cheap – and perfect for teenage boys who’d rather have a burger than a boeuf bourguignon.

True enough, both of them gave the menu the merest of glances before deciding on the half pound Aberdeen Angus burger, served with steak cut chips (£6.95), with bacon and cheese as extras (75p each).

When I eventually persuaded them to look at the starters, we all agreed on a sharing platter (£4.95), “as long as you eat all the mushrooms”. There were plenty for me to fill up on, along with chicken goujons, onion rings, potato wedges and garlic bread. I didn’t get a look in on the bread, but was told it was nice and buttery with not too much garlic. The rest was pretty standard, deep-fried fare; unremarkable save for the tasty dips (barbeque and garlic mayo) in the middle of the plate.

I decided to get an expert opinion on my main course and asked the barmaid what she would recommend. “The burgers are fantastic,” she replied, and the boys beamed.

Pressed for a second choice, she had high praise for the ‘sizzlers’ – “like fajitas but without the wraps” – and so I opted for the Cajun steak sizzler at £10.95.

She was right. The sizzling hotplate was packed with strips of steak, onions, peppers and (more) mushrooms, and was tasty without blowing my head off with Cajun spice. It came with a small salad and chips on the side and they were my only disappointment. Described as ‘steak cut chips’, I imagined the thick, handcut kind, but these were almost certainly frozen then deep-fried.

The same chips were piled on the burger plates, but there was no such disappointment from that side of the table. The burgers were indeed fantastic; thick, juicy and giant, and dripping in melted cheese. In fact, they were so big that neither of my big, strong boys could finish them – and I don’t think that’s ever been known before.

The Running Horse has recently been taken over by a new landlady, Jean Kingsley, and in my opinion she could do with tweaking one or two details on the food side of things.

Then again, what we like to eat is a very subjective thing and for at least two of her young customers that evening, the dining was just fine. – MICHELLE TOMPKINS