The Langley Tap
Looking for the perfect village pub? We've only gone and found it. Lovely food and a super-warm welcome await you in this gem near Chippenham.
Wiltshire does cute village pub pretty well, and we’ve snuffled out all the best for years, including this gem near Chippenham. However over the last few months the Muddy radar has really started flashing around the Langley Tap. Aye Aye readers, time to get down there and see what’s changed (a lot). There’s ham, egg & chips on the menu (always our mark of a real pub), and a website with a link to a Mariah Carey video. A great start, but there’s so much more here to discover.
So it was that we found ourselves in the village of Langley Burrell on a blustery autumn evening. This is a pub nights like this were made for: a cluster of pint-drinking locals round a wood-burning stove and impressive central bar, a sleepy spaniel, smiley, welcoming staff. It’s a tricky balance, you want a pub that’s the centre of the community, but you don’t want stares if you’re from out of town. But here they have managed it; a relaxed warm welcome that says they’re used to all sorts and all are welcome. Budge up at the bar, someone new’s blown in.
I would have been equally at home on my own in the snug with a drink and a book, or making new friends on the iron bar stools. Tonight, however, was about dinner with Mr Muddy, so we were led to the cosy, candlelit dining room.
Full of details that make us happy: scrubbed wooden tables, antique silver candlesticks; restrained but with the odd well-chosen flourish, like the monkey candlesticks we kind of fell in love with. It’s traditional in the best sense, but without all that brass bed-pan tat that all too often comes with traditional pubs. It’s a style that has allowed the handsome bones of the place to shine – original chunky beams and warm bath stone set off by distinctive deep moss green paintwork.
Mark and his partner Mark (convenient for the monogramming) bravely jacked-in their 9-5 jobs mid-Covid and took on this slightly unloved pub in a part of the Wiltshire countryside they’d fallen in love with. That countryside has now inspired the warm, earthy tones of the beautifully refurbished interior. They’ve created a homely, atmospheric space, complete with board games and background jazz. What a feat, mid-pandemic, heh?
We reckon their success is at least partly due to the clarity of their intention: they absolutely knew they wanted to create a proper but pared-back country pub; somewhere relaxed to spend time with friends and family with great food, drinks and customer service. Nothing too fancy, just everything done simply and well. We particularly love that it’s not over done: totally classic and tasteful, but not too chi-chi. Part of this is that it’s still very much a village pub, rather than a restaurant. You can book a table for dinner, but there is stacks of un-bookable drinking space.
‘MUCH DEPENDS ON DINNER’
Lord Byron wasn’t wrong, we were starving. Turns out we were in the right place for hearty portions of autumnal fare. Agonising over tempting descriptions of maple syrup glazed goats cheese, crispy Parma ham, fig & walnut salad, we settle on the wild mushroom & game paté with chutney & sourdough. It was a seasonal treat: smooth and homemade. Next I went for a seafood pie with dauphinoise potato crust: a deliciously rich sauce with salmon, cod, mussels that almost defeated me in it’s generosity. Almost. Mr Muddy devoured a steak & ale pie with leek mash and red wine gravy in record time, describing as “densely packed and very tasty”.
A couple of glasses of an easily quaffable Merlot paired perfectly. We nosily eyed up our neighbours’ meals; mentally bookmarking the massive battered haddock and homemade onion rings for next time.
We were, of course, too full for pudding. Weren’t we? Well we’ll just take a look at the menu for research purposes.
‘LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO’
As Taylor would say. What’s a girl to do when faced with a list of such favourites on a cute little chalk board? In my defence I have none.
Treacle tart with clotted cream ice-cream won out, but I’m still wondering what could have been with the chocolate & blackberry creme brulée or espresso martini mouse with shortbread. Next time I might start at this end of the menu and work backwards. The tart had that underlying lemony tang (oh yes!) that I’d been hoping for, and only seems to come in traditional homemade versions. It was pretty perfect all round, and treacle tart is one of my specialist subjects. Ice cream is from local Marshfield, natch, the best around these parts
Although we didn’t chose them on this occasion, there are lots of tempting vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menu options (roasted pumpkin, sage & wild mushroom risotto – I’ll be back for you soon!). Mark & Mark were vegetarian until recently and, along with head chef Adam, are committed to offering a menu with choices for everyone.
The warm Langley Tap welcome is extended to dogs, so no need to leave Fido at home, especially as this is a great spot for walking. Check out the one on their website to Maud’s Heath Causeway, a fifteenth century Wiltshire pathway.
THE PIZZA BOX
New for this autumn is wood-fired pizza served from a funky converted horse box out the front of the pub, available Fridays 6pm-9pm and Saturdays 2pm-6pm. Take it away, eat in the garden or feel free to take it into the bar if there’s room.
At the heart of the action is Mark and Mark – their warmth and effortless hospitality is the Langley Tap’s USP for sure. They’re people-people, as well as interiors and food people. It’s clear that they’ve invested time and care in their staff – a friendly, helpful bunch who are proud of the place and evidently happy in their work.
We’ll be back soon, for ham, egg & chips, a pint of Wadsworth and the warmest of village welcomes.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good For: Anyone after a friendly, traditional English pub with a sense of style.
Not for: Those wanting the frills, foams or deconstructions of fine dining with their dinner; the food here is hearty and unpretentious.
The Damage: Around £65 for two courses for two with a bottle of wine. Pizzas from £10. A lovely Languedoc Merlot is a very reasonable £4 small glass.
The Langley Tap 41 The Common, Langley Burrell, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN15 4LQ Tel: 01249 736449