FIRST VISIT: MONDAY 7 APRIL 2014
Out for food – the Carpenter’s Arms is an Arkell’s pub so it’s the only reason for a beer geek like me to cross the threshold.
We arrived around seven forty and there was already a decent amount of folk piling into food, which was a promising sign. Sadly, the bar was poorly stocked. There were three cask pumps but two of them were off. The one that remained housed Wiltshire Gold. Keg offerings were standard macro products. I was hoping that the place would at least have Arkell’s Craft Lager on keg but the lager choice was Carling or Becks Vier. Disappointing. The Carpenters Arms is a big place but like all old buildings (it was here before the railway came to Swindon) it has been hacked up by supporting walls. It looks like it was decorated by my granny in the late 1970s. It looks like a traditional pub.
We took a set an perused the food menu and specials board. There was plenty of choice. All the sharing plates – Fish, Asian and Veggie – looked great. The steaks were big and reasonably prized for the size. There was lots of choice. Perhaps too much choice. The landlord, who initially seemed liked a surly chap but later revealed himself to be a man with a very dry demeanour, apologised for the wait. Apparently, the place was unusually busy for a Monday. I didn’t feel the wait was long (and I do get pissed of by long waits to order) so the apology was extra appreciated. I opted for Blanchbait followed by Whole Tail Whitby Scampi. ‘Fish. Fish. And more fish. But it’s not even Friday!’ remarked the landlord with a thin smile upon his face. My girlfriend went for the Creamy Stilton Mushrooms followed by Lasagne. The starters arrived promptly. I huge pile of deep fried fish and the ‘best ever’ mushrooms. So far so good. I got another pint of Wiltshire Gold despite the first not being very good – the only viable alternatives were Guinness or a bottle of Holsten Pils. Next time I’ll have a Holsten. The mains arrived and as with the starters they were vast in size and damn tasty. And it all clocked in at just a few pence over thirty quid. I was reluctantly impressed.
If you are in the vicinity and fancy a large portion of good pub grub then the Carpenters Arms is worth a visit. Just make sure you sneak in your own beer.