The Outside Chance
PUBLISHED: 16:00 06 July 2011 | UPDATED: 19:39 20 February 2013
A pub-restaurant that comes in a winner!
Whether you want a quiet, cosy drink with friends, quick snack, light lunch or dinner, the Outside Chance does it all with class and understated attention to detail.
Breeding shows through in this village pub-restaurant. Its co-owners, Guy Sangster and Howard Spooner, have plenty of thoroughbred and local connections, as too does the chef, Mark Cheney. Mark is the third generation of chefs in his family although he is the first male chef. Indeed, his grandmother is still a part-time chef at The Crown in Aldbourne, aged 69. Mark himself hails most recently from The Three Crowns at Brinkworth and has also worked at The Red Lion at Axford and The Bell at Ramsbury.
My aim is to provide good, freshly cooked, local food that everyone comes back for, and I am pleased to say they do. Its a busy little pub, well supported by locals who sometimes come in two or three times a week. My big hate is Specials Boards, which continue to offer the same old thing. Ours changes twice daily so that we stay fresh and offer real variety, explains Mark.
I caught up with Elain for a light lunch at the OC and would say our experience bore this out. As a vegetarian, Elain is usually resigned to the obligatory, flabby vegetarian lasagne or some green leaves, but here there were some big decisions to be made: would she go for the Eggs Royale (a delicious-sounding combination of smoked salmon, spinach and poached free range eggs, on a toasted muffin with hollandaise), the cheddar cheese and onion tart with potato salad and dressed leaves (my selection) or the roast red peppers, mozzarella and tomato salad? The meat and fish options, including Barnsley lamb chop with local Manton asparagus and breaded Torbay sole with chips and salad, all looked tempting as well.
We shared a starter the enduring classic of shell-on prawns which came nicely chilled in a giant brandy glass with tasty bread and mayonnaise. Washed down with a very smooth but dry ros, this was a great start. The food was presented with style but without pretension. The red pepper salad arrived with the tomatoes nestling inside the peppers (a nice touch) and what Elain described as a really good, soft splodge of mozzarella which absorbed the olive oil dressing beautifully. The balance between the flavours in my cheese and onion tart was also pitched just right, and the pastry wonderfully crumbly.
When it came to dessert, we had to try each others you couldnt not. The crme brule topping was crispy perfect, the vanilla definite but not overwhelming, and the shortbread to die for. The ice creams and sorbets are made specially to order for the OC from Buttercup and Daisy Ice Creams in Tisbury, which means youre unlikely to find them in a supermarket. I opted for the unusual combination of orange and basil sorbet, which really worked.
With tables tucked in corners, nooks and under windows, the whole place feels like home and manages to remain fresh and cosy all at the same time. On sunny days, there are pretty garden spaces dotted around too. In short, its a pub which shines across all the seasons. The informality extends to a warm welcome for dogs at least those well-behaved ones, as checked out by Jarvis Cocker, the spaniel who lives above the pub.
The ouside chance, Manton, nr Marlbrough. 01672 512352