FIRST VISIT: 26 JULY 2014
We’d been to Wootton Bassett to visit the Farmers Market (disappointing) and have a mooch around the charity shops (50p scored me a mint copy of The Complete BBC Radio Series of The Mighty Boosh and a further 199p secured me a pristine copy of Kerouac’s Big Sur). The excitement was all done and dusted just before noon so naturally or minds turned to the small matter of a hearty lunch. My girlfriend said she fancied a Ploughman’s Lunch. Good call. I now fancied a Ploughman’s. The best place I’ve found in the Swindon area for a Ploughman’s is the White Hart in Wroughton but it’s a need to book kind of place and especially so for a lunch at the weekend.
We no real idea where to go as we headed out of Basset and took the back road to Swindon – the road that also leads to Hook and the Bolingbroke Arms. I’d passed the Bolingbroke many times in the past, primarily when en route to Riffs Bar for a gig. It’s a nice looking place from the outside but it’s an Arkell’s pub so I’ve always give it a wide berth. But we were heading in its direction and I’d heard a fair few folk say the food there is good and I was hungry and thirty so I suggested we give it a go – I could always have a cola or a lemonade. We arrived just a few minutes after noon. The car park had enough cars in to suggest that the place was popular but not so popular that we wouldn’t be able to a table. Inside a few folk occupied some table and a few more were at the bar awaiting service. Our order was taken promptly. I decided to go for a pint of 3B – one of two cask ales for sale, the other being Wiltshire Gold. We were asked if would be eating and when we replied yes the barman said he would start a tab for us and then handed us two menus. The food options were plentiful but I’m not sure the menu needed to be housed on an A3 piece of laminated paper – A4 would’ve made much more practical sense. We took our drinks and oversized menus to an outside table. The garden is well looked after and a delightful spot to sink a beer or two. The beer itself was in excellent condition and served at the prefect temperature – without a doubt the finest pint of Arkell’s beer I’ve ever had. The drinks were dispatched and we spotted a Ploughman’s clone on the menu – Wiltshire Ham & Cheese Platter – so I trooped back inside to place the order. The same barman as before served me. He asked me if I wanted the same as last time. I replied that I did and then said the order. The barman politely pointed out that the previous drink of my girlfriend had been a lime and soda not the lemonade and lime that I had just said. He’d known my girlfriend for ten minutes compared to my ten years and he already knew her better than me – that’s what quality bar-keeping is all about. The food arrived swiftly and it was all great – a sizeable slice of juicy ham and a generous chunk of beautifully mature cheddar, complimented by two delicious tasting chutneys, a perfectly dressed salad and a huge wedge of brown bread. And the second pint of 3B was as great as the first. It’s good to be surprised every now and again.
We will return and if the beer is always in tiptop condition we might even return quite often.