The first in a series of independent local food reviews, we visit the Sun Inn, Lydiard Millicent.
The Sun is an archetypal village pub. Snug, all beams, nooks and a miss-match of comfy sofas and traditional pub furniture. At times, it can feel a little too busy. On the whole though, it comes across as genuine. A real pub, rather than a chain. More shabby chic than Ikea.
There is a good sized car park, although the Sun is within easy walking distance of most of the village, Lydiard Park and West Swindon.
There are two entrances. The one from the car park takes you into the back of the restaurant area. As one of the reviews on Tripadvisor points out, it’s a bit cramped. Better, enter from the street (just be careful negotiating the narrow pavements). The traditional wooden door and vestibule give a more honest first impression. The Sun’s not exactly light and spacious. But it has done a pretty good job of retaining a lot of its eighteenth century charm.
As part of our Sunday Lunch Challenge, we opted for soup of the day, which was pea. OH chose the traditional roast, pork with all the trimmings. (Lamb, beef and chicken were also on offer, as was the a la carte menu). Although tempted by the vegetarian option (warmed goats’ cheese with pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes and drizzled with balsamic vinegar), I opted for the poached salmon with roast new potatoes, vegetables and Hollandaise sauce.
Boy was offered a smaller portion of the Sunday roast or something from the children’s menu. Predictably, he opted for the ubiquitous chicken nuggets (sorry, goujons) and chips.
There is a wide selection of puddings for those with a sweet tooth. (Syrup Sponge pudding, Chocolate Brownies, Spotted Dick, Eton Mess, Creme Brulee, Bailey’s Cheesecake, were all on offer when we visited). There is also a cheese board option for those who prefer something more savoury.
There is a good selection of wine, by the bottle and the glass. I choose a rather mellow Rioja and OH enjoyed a pint of 6X. (There is a good selection of beer, including Sharp’s Doom Bar). Boy was kept happy with a supply of J2O and Fruit Shoots. Fresh tea and coffee are available too.
Quality of food
On the whole, very good.
The pea soup was different (in a good way). Refreshing, and homemade. (At least, it tasted a notch above the usual staples). The baguette was generous, but lacked butter, and tasted suspiciously like the frozen rolls you can buy and reheat at home.
Boy tucked into his chicken with gusto, leaving a clean plate, so full marks there too.
The cheese board was very generous, nicely garnished with a selection of cheddar, brie, stilton and goats’ cheese. There was also a rather pleasant tangy chutney.
For a cheese aficionado, however, it was a bit uninspiring. There wasn’t anything there that you couldn’t buy off the shelves in a Tesco Metro, and the Jacobs-type crackers were similarly lack lustre.
Boy, needless to say, polished off the chocolate brownie without pausing for breath and declared it excellent.
A hard one to assess and to be fair. The staff are mainly young, and very pleasant. They are very helpful if you ask for something. However, they give the impression of students filling-in rather than professional waiters. That may be unexceptional in a pub, but it does leave some gaps in service.
For example, the menu promised the meat was locally sourced, however, our waitress was only able to tell us it came from somewhere local (and this was after consulting the kitchen). We also waited 30 minutes for the cheese board. It arrived chilled, rather than room-temperature, so presumably had been sitting in the fridge for that time.
Service is slow, but willing. Not a problem if you’re happy to sit back with a good drink and enjoy the ambiance. But possibly not the place to come if you’re looking for a quick turnaround.
Value for money
Not bad. Our bill for two adults and a child came to £64, but that was for three courses and drinks. The roast at £9.50 was good value, although the soup at £4.50 and puddings at £4.95 struck me as a little expensive for what they were.
The drinks are not the cheapest, £3.70 for a pint of 6X, £8.80 for an admittedly generous 175ml of Campo Dordo Rioja. However, this is justifiable given the choice and the quality of the wine.
The Sun has a score of 4/5, and comments which reflect my overall impressions.
Food Hygiene Rating
The Sun has a score of 5/5.
Hard to beat for a good local Sunday roast. Book ahead (It does get busy). And make the best of the excellent selection of wines and beers, which can make up for the occasional lapse in service.