MICHELLE TOMPKINS finds great customer service and tasty home-cooked food in nearby Lechlade

THERE’S a lot to be said for good customer service – in my book, being made to feel welcome and valued (but not greeted like a long-lost friend, or fixed with a maniacal false grin) is as important as the plate of food in front of me or the décor I am looking at.

The staff at The New Inn in Lechlade got off to a flying start from the moment I called up to book. “I must just tell you…,” explained the man on the other end of the line. “We have a party booking in the dining room that night and you’ll be sat in the bar. Is that okay?”

I had no idea, but I’ve sat in plenty of bars and eaten plenty of meals in them over the years, so I had no reason to think I’d hate this one. “I’m sure it’s fine,” I said, and then promptly forgot all about it.

On the morning of the booking my mobile rang with an unknown number. Not having had any accidents in the past few months or wanting to claim PPI, I ignored it, as you do, but then noticed the caller had left a message.

“Hi, it’s The New Inn at Lechlade here,” said a young and enthusiastic voice.

“Not sure if you were made aware when you booked but we have a party taking up the dining room tonight and you will be sat in the bar when you come in. It’s a very nice bar – some people prefer it – but didn’t want to you think you’d be in the dining area. Call us back if that’s a problem.”

Alarm bells rang a bit, I’ll admit. What exactly was wrong with this bar that they needed to forewarn me about it quite so much? I pictured us sat on a lone table in a bar full of rowdy locals, swilling beer over our heads and trying to nick our chips.

I needn’t have worried. This is Lechlade, after all, and the locals don’t really do rowdy (not often, anyway).

What greeted us was a perfectly lovely bar with perfectly lovely people; old paintings and knick-knacks decorating the room and proper, solid tables for eating at, one of which had our names chalked on a board and a ‘reserved’ sign.

There was a TV screening football in one corner, but very quietly, and we were sat about as far away as we could be from it anyway, so no problems there.

What I’d feared was a case of protesting too much was actually just exceptional customer service. Shame on me for having so little faith.

This large pub was indeed very busy on a Thursday night, but we were comforted by that, even more so by the plates of food we could see arriving from the kitchen. There certainly didn’t seem to be any delays caused by the crowd.

The standard menu isn’t going to set the world on fire – chicken supreme (£12), beer battered cod with chips (£9.50), ham, egg and chips (£9.50), burgers around the £10 mark – but it’s the kind of pub grub that really hits the spot when you just want a proper, home-cooked meal.

Our eyes were taken by the specials board, however, where there were just two dishes on offer – baked hake in a red pepper sauce (£13, and big tick from me) and a pulled chicken pie with veg (£11, and a big tick from him).

In a nice touch on the starters menu, you can opt to share in a kind of tapas stylee – two starters between you for £10 or three for £14. We went for the unlikely combo of crab cakes with a lime and coriander crème fraiche (normally £5.50) and spicy pulled lamb with ciabatta (normally £6.50).

Both were fantastic but especially the ramekin of pulled lamb, rich with spices and a thick tomatoey base. You could have stuck a crock of that and a crusty loaf between us and we’d have been very happy indeed.

My fillet of hake arrived in a plain earthenware bowl, all the better for showcasing the vision of colour against the silvery skin of the fish. A huge dollop of creamy mashed potato provided the bed, with a pool of vibrant red pepper sauce surrounding it, the greenest of green asparagus and juicy orange carrots on the side and hearty chunks of purple beetroot to top it all off. It tasted as good as it looked and the thick fillet of fish flaked perfectly under my fork.

My partner’s pie was less aesthetically-pleasing – the pulled chicken filling had clearly bubbled and dribbled over the sides of the dish during baking, giving it a messy appearance, and the shortcrust pastry lid was a bit pale. That said, he tucked in and finished off the lot, chunky chips, carrots, peas and all.

His verdict? It tasted a lot better than it looked, especially the meaty pie filling.

There are six options for dessert – the likes of cheesecake, brownie, apple crumble etc. All are £5 and all are homemade, although I’m sorry to say we didn’t have the capacity for any of them. It occurred to me afterwards that they should consider doing a sharing pudding menu like the starters one, perfect for those who just want a little taste of several things (ie. me).

We left feeling well fed and not at all short-changed, either by the price (£47 with two drinks each) or the fact that we never did get to see that dining room.

Whoever had the room that night was welcome to it – I am well and truly converted to the bar.

The New Inn

Market Place, Lechlade GL7 3AB

Tel: 01367 252296

Parking: outside the door in the town square

Disabled access: Yes

Adver ratings:

Food: 8/10

Choice: 8/10

Décor: 8/10

Customer service: 10/10

Main course prices: from £9.50 to £15.50

TripAdvisor rating: 4/5

  • To ensure the integrity of our reviews all our critics dine as paying customers without the restaurant's knowledge (unless otherwise stated). Photographs are taken at a later date. All views are the personal opinion of the write.