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Clean plates all round
3:45pm Friday 4th May 2012 in Eating Out Reviews
THE JOLLY TAR,
Swindon, SN6 7RP.
Tel: 01793 762245
If you’re going to the Jolly Tar, make sure you’re hungry, says STEPHEN WEBB
I WAS busy finishing off my starter when my wife made some comment only half-heard as I spread the remaining blob of camembert on a slice of ciabatta.
“What are you talking about, woman?” I asked between chews.
“I said,” she said... and she proceeded to quote from a nursery rhyme* that involved someone called Jack Sprat and licking a platter clean.
And she uttered these lines as I used the last piece of bread to soak up the delicious dressing that came with the garnish, to indeed leave a very clean platter.
Well, I was hungry.
Which was just as well, because The Jolly Tar at Hannington knows what to do with hungry boys and girls.
This charming pub nestles in the village that lies just off the road that links Blunsdon with Highworth. It’s the sort of place the word rustic was invented for, which was reinforced as we took our seats close to the roaring log fire, which was very welcome on an unseasonsably chilly April evening.
The menu is not particularly extensive, but we were still spoilt for choice.
My baked camembert with thyme, red onion chutney and toasted ciabatta (£5.95) was delicious, with every element of the dish complementing each other perfectly. I’d have loved more, but then it wouldn’t have been a starter, would it?
My wife was equally satisfied with her field mushrooms with garlic and bruschetta (£5.50) – a very rustic dish.
For my main course I had a 30-day matured 10z fillet steak (£19.50) which came with chunky chips, field mushroom and grilled tomato. If my starter had a skirmish with my hunger, this dish went into full battle with it, and emerged triumphant.
The generous cut of steak fell away when I sliced into it – it was succulent and tasted superb.
Beer battered cod, chips (again, of the chunky variety) and garden peas (£10.50) were served opposite and thoroughly enjoyed. My wife admired the quality and flavour of the fish.
We shared our thoughts on these dishes after both our “platters” were “licked clean” because we were too busy enjoying the food to be distracted by conversation.
We were full up. We looked at the dessert menu, but it was, sadly, hopeless. Warm apple tart and summer fruits Eton mess were calling out to me. “Guys, I’m too full,” I said (but not out loud). “Another time, OK?”
While we there we heard a customer in conversation with a member of staff. He expressed disappointment about there being dishes such as burger and chips on the menu, implying the Jolly Tar had gone downmarket.
Don’t you believe it. Sure, the place sells pub grub, but it is of the highest quality that would not be out of place in any decent restaurant in the area.
And I bet Jack Sprat would agree.