DINING out at the Crown in Royal Wootton Bassett was a blast – a blast from the past.

The flares and groovy wallpaper were absent, but the menu, with classics like prawn cocktail, scampi and chicken Kiev was a wonderful journey back into the 1970s.

We decided to try the hotel on the recommendation of a friend. It was a dank and dreary Saturday night but the welcome we received from the staff was warm and friendly.

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The bar was quiet apart from a couple of Irish customers who were enjoying a good gossip. After ordering our drinks at the bar – two pints of Estrella and a cola for the driver – we were shown to our table near the window.

Around us were signs the pub had been redecorated fairly recently although it remained very much the traditional panelled walls and horse brasses style. There was an attractive ornate fireplace with a wood burner, but while there were logs ready at the side, the stove wasn’t lit.

What we did notice was that the place was clean and there was no sign of dust.

We decided to go for all three starters – the aforementioned prawn cocktail, garlic mushrooms and soup of the day.

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There was a bit of a wait but we didn’t mind. Another group of diners arrived and sat next to us in the raised area away from the main route through the bar. Their conversation quickly turned to the depressing subject of Brexit. Luckily our starters arrived to distract us.

One of our number is a chef and although we’d brought him out with us for a break from his day job we were interested to know what he thought of the food placed before him. He’d gone for the prawn cocktail which came in a tall-stemmed glass accompanied by a couple of slices of bread. It was simple and the sauce was not too cloyingly sweet, but he was disappointed to find margarine in the butter dish instead of the real thing.

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I’d chosen the garlic mushrooms and was pleased to see they weren’t covered in breadcrumbs as I’d half expected. It’s a simple dish, but very tasty if done properly. Mine came with a salad and two slices of bread I enjoyed it very much, but I didn’t think it needed the bread.

My partner had a bowl of cauliflower soup. It was thick and had a good flavour and here the bread came in handy.

We had chosen steak, fish and chips and a burger for our main courses. Again straightforward food but easy to mess up. My partner’s steak was a good piece of meat cooked medium rare as he liked it, accompanied by chunky chips and onion rings that were good and crispy. The homemade beer batter around my cod was also crispy and the flesh was not at all flaky. The chef was happy with his burger, which came with the bacon and cheese, but the bun was too crumbly.

Dessert was a brioche panettone pudding, chocolate fudge cake and a syrup sponge - all great comfort food, particularly the panettone (our chef’s choice) and the sponge which were light and sweet.

The menu was unpretentious and our meals reflected that. Straightforward dishes cooked well. Presentation wasn’t perfect, but we cleared our plates all the same.

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If there was one thing we would point to as an area for improvement it was the fact we couldn’t buy Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio was only available in single glass size bottles. We couldn’t argue with the price though. An 8oz locally sourced sirloin steak at £16.95 was the most expensive main course and at the other end of the scale were vegetable and beef lasagnes at £7.75.

WHERE: The Crown Hotel, High Street, Royal Wootton Bassett.

TEL: 01793 852228



FOOD: 8/10



PARKING: On street