As with any vehicle in the Hospitality Industry markets change and the necessity to reinvest is a constant requirement if one is to maintain a reasonable level of sales and profit.

Over the last 20 years this property has at times suffered from a decided lack of re-investment, however, not anymore.

The new owners have clearly identified an opportunity that they believe in, one that has great potential for sustainable growth.

They have created a flexible vehicle for the sale of food, beer and wine. The refurbishment has added a modern large open outdoor facility that is both attractive and undoubtable will appeal to a variety of different age groups as well as numerous different sized  parties.

The interior of the Coach and Horses is very welcoming and gives off a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere, The loos are of a high standard and the detail for the comfort and safety of guests is very much to a standard of the 21st Century.

The ladies will find that they have been well catered for.  There is even a notice advising them, if they need to get away from unwanted attention, a discrete conversation with the bar staff and a taxi organised and an escort provided for her to the taxi.

One might consider this a sad commentary upon the times, nevertheless, in such a situation, it reflects a considerate and helpful service.

The Menu

Di and I found a comfortable reserved table just outside the main bar area. The tables are well spaced out, giving customers a variety of differed spaces to select. The menu is not extensive, but it has a well-thought-out variety to please everyone, including children.

There was a choice of nine starters from £6.50 to £9.00. Di chose the House Bread Box (£7.50). 

Salisbury Journal: Bread boxBread box (Image: Peter Hime)

It consisted of a warm roll, flat bread and crisp bread  accompanied by a nice choice of, but  insufficient portions of, salted butter, balsamic oil. olives and hummus. 

A good choice but, insufficient portions. With two of each bread this was far too much for a single person. The rolls could have been fresher but were warm. [Score 6]

I chose the Half pint of Whitebait and Crispy Squid (£8.00).

Salisbury Journal: Whitebait and crispy squidWhitebait and crispy squid (Image: Peter Hime)

The coating was the dominant flavour, great idea, didn’t quite come off. [Score 6 for both dishes].

Main Courses

There is a selection of 16 priced from £10.50 to £17.50.

I chose the Steak Frites with wild mushroom sauce with hand cut chips. (£17.00). I asked for it rare, it was medium, the chips were very good. [Score 7]

Salisbury Journal: Steak fritesSteak frites (Image: Peter Hime)

Di chose the pan-fried Chicken Supreme with bubble and squeak, whole roast carrots and mushroom sauce (£16.50).

Salisbury Journal: Pan-fried Chicken Supreme

The chicken was slightly over cooked, the bubble and squeak was lacking in flavour and the consistency not quite right.

For Dessert all at £7.50, we could choose from six items including cheese and biscuits. We both decided on the bread and butter pudding. It was tasty with custard and the marmalade ice cream most enjoyable. [Score 7]

Salisbury Journal: Bread and butter pudding

Wine and Beer.

If you want to experience the delights and variety of beers and real ale, then this is probably the ideal place to start. With upwards of 20 draught beers, you are completely spoiled for choice. 

They also serve eight varieties of cocktails which can all be made alcohol free. In addition to which they have  four spritzers, all at £9.00 each.

The wine list is limited but well structured. Four red and whites by the glass, two rose, from £6.45 to £8.75. Bottles or Carafes from £16.00 to £25.

The Coach and Horses deserves to succeed, it has a lot going for it, however, it really has to give greater focus on the cooking of all their dishes. Ours could have been so much better but missed out on a series of small details. For example, I do not know where they sourced their Whitebait and crispy squid, but I would look for an alternative source. The heavy coating being the predominant memory, just too basic.

When I was responsible for running a group of restaurants, hotels and catering operations including holding the Royal Warrant as Caterers to Her Late Majesty, I use to sample every dish on a whole variety of menus, prices, and styles.

We prided ourselves as being able to serve everything from, Buns to Caviar. My disappointment of the Coach and Horses is that I just wished to interrogate the Chef on his or her thinking behind every dish.

Well the challenge is there, but the real challenge is far greater.  Well done, you have a great old Coaching Inn to house your ambitions and the opportunity.  The trick is in the detail, you cannot rely on all that you have got right, so far to simply carry you onwards and upwards.

Overall score 6.5