FOOD REVIEW: The Vine Tree is well worth a drive

MY HUSBAND was away and my son was also without his partner for the weekend so I suggested we ventured out for Saturday lunch.

I had been thinking a sandwich and maybe a nice cake in a little cafe but by now I should have realised that my son’s idea of lunch would be on a rather grander scale.

So on the condition he would drive to the destination I allowed him to pick where we went.

He came up with a few suggestions, all at least 40 minutes away from our homes in Devizes, and I have to say that the menu of The Vine Tree at Norton near Malmesbury, sounded enticing.

Living in our eco bubble of Devizes we had forgotten that north Wiltshire villages had suffered far worse in the various storms and lashing rain so it was fortunate that we had left my Mini at home.

But the slightly tricky drive through flooded lanes was well worth the effort. The Vine Tree has an olde worlde feel but the menu is packed with interesting dishes designed to keep even the most ardent modern foodie happy.

The staff were welcoming and obliging. It was a bit chilly in the dining room but when our waiter found the radiator near us could not be turned on he very quickly appeared with an electric heater and we were soon snug.

There were plenty of items on the menu that sounded worth a try so we decided (obviously in the interest of research) to have both a sharing vegetarian mezze(£6.95) and a Scotch egg (£6.95)

It was a great choice as the Scotch egg was beautiful and oozy with a well seasoned surround while the mezze board had beautiful home made humus, Arancini balls, flavoured breads and other bits and bobs.

But even before we got to the starter the waiter brought out bread sticks with some very tasty garlic mayonnaise on the house.

As Michael was driving I decided that as the food was a bit special I would indulge in a glass of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc while the driver had a shandy.

Deciding on the main course was more difficult. I ummed and ahhed about a few options including lamb and beef but was finally beguiled by the fish of the day dish £17.95) which was cod with chorizo sat on a cassoulet style bean and tomato accompaniment.

I definitely made the right choice. The fish was super fresh and cooked to perfection. the chorizo gave it a spicy edge and the beans were great.

I was told the ox cheek (£14.95) was equally delicious and melt in the mouth.

After all of this fine food we should have probably called it a day but we both have a soft spot for treacle tart (£6.95) and have sampled them at many a Wiltshire pub and restaurant.

So after a bit of a pause to find some room we decided to share a portion. It was maybe not the very best I have tasted on my eating out travels but it was very good.

Crisp pastry and a gooey middle.

We agreedit was a shame we couldn’t pick up The Vine Tree and move it closer to Devizes as it is only the distance that will prevent it becoming a very regular destination. JOANNE MOORE

This is Wiltshire


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