AFTER hearing that the Bath Arms in Horningsham had been taken over by a new, ‘very talented’ head chef, I decided to pay it a visit one Sunday afternoon.

As my friend and I entered the pub, which is a stone’s throw from Longleat, we soon discovered that it is both a country pub and a fancy restaurant, with a wall separating the two.

We were led to a table in the restaurant but as it was empty we opted to sit in the pub area instead, where there was a better atmosphere.

Once we were seated, a waiter (not the most talkative) took our drink orders and gave us our menus.

The owners seem to have set their sights on a high-end dining experience, with starters including Wiltshire wood pigeon, black pudding, carrots and treacle (£7.50) and Asparagus, quail egg, broad beans and 36-month-old parmesan (£9) – not your average pub grub.

The starters were tempting, but we decided to save our appetites and go straight for the main courses.

I ordered duck breast with spring greens and dauphinoise potatoes (£19.50) and my friend went for the 8oz hanger steak with mushroom ketchup and hand cut chips (£21.50).

After a brief wait, my duck arrived and it was one of the finest cuts of the meat I’ve tasted and cooked to perfection.

The spring greens, which were covered in honey dressing, were also delicious but it was the dauphinoise potatoes that stole the show. I can still taste that creamy slab of potato perfection.

My friend’s steak arrived shortly after. After his first chip, he declared it was ‘the best chip he had ever tasted’ – high praise indeed from someone who has eaten his fair share of them. The first bite of his medium rare steak, which was cut up into small chunks, was judged as ‘a bit chewy’, but the taste was ‘top notch’.

As we expected, the food was absolutely delicious. However, we both agreed that the portions were on the small side for us personally, especially considering the prices.

When the bill came we found it had a discretionary service charge of 10% (£4.83) added to it - which we didn’t feel was justified considering the average table service.

With that addition to the bill, two main courses and two pints of lager, the total bill came to £53.13.

The new head chef certainly lived up to his billing as someone who can rustle up some very tasty grub, but I could have eaten much more.

The Bath Arms
Horningsham, Warminster
BA12 7LY
Tel: 01985 844308

Parking: a short walk away
Disabled access: yes

Gazette ratings: 
Food: 9/10
Choice: 8/10
Décor: 7/10
Customer service: 6/10

Main courses: from £7.50 to £22.50

Trip advisor rating: 4/5