MOTHERS know best; or so my mum insists on reminding me every time we have a difference in opinion... which despite an ocean separating us (well, The Channel) happens on a weekly basis.

One thing on which we usually find common ground is great food: where to find it – never at home, if you want it to be vaguely digestible – and how often to scoff it.

My driving proficiency however is high on our floor-length list of ongoing contention. For some reason this raving, road-raging paragon of motherhood feels entitled to pass judgment on my ability to dodge cyclists, and my (hereditary) habit of pelting sluggish Sunday motorists with choice expletives. Patience does not run in the family.

To put us both out of misery, avoid flared tempers or full-on bust-ups, we have this unspoken rule that, force majeure excepted, a tête-a-tête in the car – even with my partner as a well-meaning but hapless buffer – is strictly off limits. Of course when my mother made her mind up to visit my partner’s new stomping ground, Corsham, and throw in a Sunday roast at the town’s award-winning inn, The Methuen Arms, I was easily persuaded. What could happen in a mere 15-minute jaunt down the A36? Far too much, as it happens.

A wrong left and one lecture about my substandard parking later – had I heeded her sage advice and parked two spaces along she could have hauled her skinny derrière out with more ease – here we were: one flustered Scot, and two cranky French women at loggerheads.

Thankfully The Methuen Arms’ striking Georgian architecture made for a welcome distraction. Built around the remains of a 14th Century nunnery, and converted into a brewery and coaching inn in 1608, The Methuen Arms oozes history and charm in spades.

The original wrought-iron gaol-like gate opening onto the dining room, especially, proved both a quirky touch and great talking point to diffuse the tension. Although the caged bird undertone felt like an ominous sign of the ‘blissful’ family get-together to come.

Seated in a quiet corner in an imposing cased wooden booth, fitting in the 17th Century surroundings, we sipped our fresh pints to calm our communal nerves.

The Methuen Arms’ reputation preceded it – but having munched our way through Bath’s best gastro pubs and sampled some cracking roast in our time, I did not expect a small-town restaurant to outshine the city’s finest.

My reservations were put to rest the moment the menu landed in our hands. Veering slightly from the traditional, chicken, pork or beef holy trinity, the Methuen Arms did away with the poultry, offering instead a mouth-watering lamb dish complete with parmesan polenta and broad beans.

We each opted for the two-course menu for £22.50. Never one for a pork roast, I was attracted by the intriguing lamb dish. Tender to perfection, the meat, carefully balanced on a thick bed of smooth polenta, was sublime.

My partner stuck to his go-to roast sirloin of beef, while my dear mother, determined to champion the superiority of hog, opted for the belly pork served with deliciously tart apple sauce.

I must admit when I saw their gargantuan shared sides of carrots, roast potatoes – some of the crunchiest I’ve ever tasted – and moreish celeriac gratin, I was a tad jealous.

As luscious as my lamb was, a bite of my mother’s melt-in-the mouth slab of pork and crisp crackling forced me to question my hastiness to dismiss good old pork belly.

Our plates wiped to a new shine, we dithered over the lengthy dessert menu.

On the one hand I was drawn to the pain perdu, on the other I couldn’t help wondering what my mum would pick and whether I should follow her cue. She had so far shown impeccable taste.

My partner, knowing his own mind, opted for the warm almond tart with brown butter ice cream and chunky cherry compote. My mother – and I – settled for the baked vanilla and custard cheesecake, which proved a decadent and deeply satisfying treat.

The fluffy cream cheese served with a sweet hillock of poached strawberries and tangy sorbet, was simply heavenly.

After much stalling, we headed back to the car for the dreaded drive home. There were no arguments, only the piercing dig.

“The pork was really worth the trip wasn’t it?” my mother twisted the knife. Yes it was. Mothers do know best – occasionally.

The Methuen Arms
2 High Street, Corsham, SN13 0HB
01249 717060

Parking: yes, at the back
Disabled access:
Wheelchair access to most rooms and WC
Adver ratings:
Food: 9/10
Choice: 9/10
Décor: 8.5/10
Customer service: 8/10
Main course prices: from £13.50 to £19
TripAdvisor rating: 4.5/5