Sunday 25 November 2012

Silks on the Downs, Main Road, Ogbourne St Andrew, Wiltshire

A smart pub-restaurant in horse racing country, the Silk on the Downs is a good choice for a leisurely family Sunday lunch after a stroll in Wiltshire's rolling countryside. Recently refurbished, the interior is decorated with racing paraphernalia, such as framed jockeys' colours and a crude picture of Frankie Dettori resembling Barack Obama. In addition to the half-a-dozen starters and main courses on the printed menu, there could be some specials, typically fish dishes, on the blackboard  The starters might include scallops (£8.50), soup (£4.25), mussels (£7) and a selection of antipasti, featuring cured meats, such as chorizo and Parma ham, served with a small  helping of feta and sun-dried tomatoes and a sliced baguette on a wooden chopping board. The cheese and meats combine well, but the plate is on the small side for £12.95.  The main courses on Sunday include roasts, such as a slow-cooked shoulder of lamb (£13.50) with rosemary, some leathery roast potatoes, gravy and a side dish of vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots and cabbage. The tender lamb is enticing, but may need more seasoning. The pork belly (£10.95), which comes with roast potatoes, vegetables and crackling, gets rave reviews.

The kids' dishes, such as deep fried haddock and chips (£6), a mini steak (£8) and "real" chicken nuggets and chips (£6), are pretty good, but they are served with a skimpy side salad, rather than veg. For desert, the children's ice cream - two scoops for a couple of quid, served in an tasteful red pot - is excellent, as are the hot chocolate brownies, served with vanilla ice cream. The coffees are also very appealing - the latte, for example, is served in a tall glass with an impressive head of foam - and are accompanied by moreish chocolate mints. Although service can be slow, the young staff are courteous and friendly. 7/10