I was pleasantly surprised after a recent lunch at Hall & Woodhouse.
The boat-themed pub is the latest instalment at Wichelstowe's canal side boasting eye-catching views, - both inside and out - as well as, in comparison to other pub chains in the area, a more refined looking menu.
For lunch I opted for the Falafel Burger. Nothing ground-breaking, but from my experience with veggie burgers this one was a highlight - not too oily and it wasn't dry or stodgy. Although torn between this and the Chicken Ceasar Salad Burger, I was pretty satisfied with my selection.
The other members of my dining party opted for the Chicken Caesar Salad, Chicken Caesar Salad Burger, Salmon Pavé, Stuffed Roasted Aubergine, Flat Iron Steak and Vitality Salad.
Ben had the salmon. He said: "It was brought to the table piping hot and had an excellent crispy skin - which is my test for a good piece of salmon. It went down well with a good dollop of tartare sauce. No complaints. Definitely up there for pub grub."
From the interior decor to the menu itself Hall & Woodhouse have implemented small refined touches to make this pub border on gastro (for Swindon, anyway) - from the table service to an already laid-out table upon arrival and product upgrades from Fanta to Rio and Appletize to Causton Press. I also loved that that staff weren't wearing uniforms, - it's outdated, and the uniforms themselves often look cheap.
For the most part this canal side restaurant balances edge with elegance - friendly, and knowledgeable, service goes hand in hand with good food. The food's relatively expensive for what it is, - it's a safe menu to say the least - however the feeling of the pub itself overrides this aspect and I left pleased with the overall experience.
Hall & Woodhouse, although not the most imaginative of names, is a fantastic asset to Swindon's pub circuit but also the Wichelstowe development. I would happily return here for a meal, and hopefully board the in-house narrow boat for a pint or two.