The Oddfellows in Manton has recently re-opened. It was previously called the Outside Chance – so there’s much anticipation locally that a well-used pub is once again open for business. So I invited my friend Brian for spot of dinner.

He broke his shoulder skiing recently, so I thought he could do with a good feed and a bit of cheering up. I was also, rather wickedly, hoping I might have to cut his dinner up for him and make much mirth of his food choice accordingly.

I was hoping he would pick the steak. So The Oddfellows gives good promise from the outside. It has some rather classy signage outside. You know, minimal, and a bit Farrow & Ball, leading you up the path of good hope for a special gastro experience.

It has had a lick of paint inside and is certainly one of the cleanest pubs I’ve been to for a long time. And great to see such care taken over cleaning the bar glasses.

But it is rather bright and shiny and, dare I say it, lacking in personality and it was certainly bright enough to perform a medical procedure.

That said, at least we could read the menu and it was not so fashionably dark that we needed to use the torch on our phones to see it. Brian went for the Chinese prawn.

We weren’t sure if the prawns were actually Chinese and had a moment of carbon neutral angst. But they were nicely battered. I opted for the home made Scotch egg. they were both cooked, but we both felt our dishes were lacking seasoning.

And with a Scotch egg you want it to pack a bit of a punch. It was nicely cooked though, and the egg was perfectly runny in the middle and not bad for £4.50. However, and I don’t know why they do this, my hot egg and Brian’s hot prawns were plopped onto some floppy selection of bag leaves.

Why put hot stuff on lettuce? If the ‘garnish’ is still a la mode, then at least make it less apologetic. I might point out before main course, that the staff, or the one person who was serving, was utterly delightful, welcoming and keen to please.

Although I did feel slightly embarrassed for her when she kindly started to explain the difference between a Malbec and a Pinot Noir to a couple of clearly experienced lushes like myself and Brian.

We went for the Malbec, although again thought that while the wine list was okay, it wasn’t great. It was what you might expect, rather than anything that might entice. So main course for Brian was the game casserole. At £15 seemed reasonably priced, and a huge portion. He liked it, but said it was a bit like having dinner at home.

Nice. But could do better. I ordered the Marlborough mushroom gnocchi, rather pleased to see some local produce. It came with some anaemic and rather sad looking garlic bread, which had it been a bit crunchy, might have distracted from what accompanied it. This was not to my liking and I’m reasonably sure this dish would survive a nuclear winter it as so well preserved in grease. It’s a shame.

We had a nice evening, but the Oddfellows needs to raise its game just a bit .That said, I will go back, and encourage folks to visit too. It is after all only just opened, and maybe settling into itself. And it is a village pub.

And we want those to stay open.