Long story short, three of us needed to find somewhere decent to eat that was equidistant from Portsmouth, Salisbury and Bath. A friend from Bristol, who used to do the haul down to the south coast ferries regularly, suggested this pub called the Pelican Inn. She hadn’t eaten there that recently, but a browse of the website suggested there’d be vegetarian choices.
And it turned out to be a very good choice. The pub is an old coaching inn in Stapleford, one of the Wylye Valley villages along the A36. It looks like it’d be a pretty spot in summer with a river out the back. In the winter, though, it was pleasant but unremarkable inside.
The food, though, was impressive. We shared a platter of fresh bread, olives and balsamic vinegar – and it was decent bread as well. For the main course I went for oven-baked aubergine filled with mushroom and garlic risotto, finished with grilled goats cheese
I’m ambivalent about aubergine as, when cooked badly, it’s just a sponge for oil. But the dish was rich without being heavy and the filling tasty (the garlic certainly wasn’t overpowering), with the sharp goats’ cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to set it off. It was beautifully presented as well, with a garnish of salad leaves and what I think were semi-sundried tomatoes.
There was the fairly standard choice of different potatoes and either salad or vegetables to go with it. I went for the latter – and got a generous selection of buttery boiled potatoes, carrots, beetroot, swede and broad beans. The meat eaters seemed happy with their choices as well.
The puddings were good and well-presented, too. I might have had profiteroles. *Looks shifty*.
Service was friendly and efficient. I liked the fact a different waiter came back to say that the mousse one of my friends had chosen did have coffee in it – the original waiter hadn’t thought that it did.
The Pelican Inn is definitely a good find and well worth a visit if you’re doing the Wiltshire/Hampshire trek, or if you can’t face trying to park in Salisbury – Stapleford is only about 15 minutes drive out of the city.
The Pelican Inn
Phone: 01722 792642
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (although I wouldn’t bother emailing – they never did reply to my enquiry as to what time they opened in the evening!)