Cheltenham was once flooded with burger restaurants. They were literally popping up on every corner. However, within a year, most of them have disappeared. Real Burger has gone. Moody's lasted about two months, sadly it was far too big and in the wrong place and has returned to being The Bierkeller. The Tavern changed their menu for the umpteenth time and moved away from a full American diner menu to a more grown up offering which is really good. Five Guys arrived and will do alright as it's in The Brewery, but it's massively overrated which leaves us just two places, The Bottle of Sauce and Holee Cow.
The latter opened in 2017 and like most new places, I usually give them a few weeks to settle in before trying them. I never intended to leave it a year. It's in quite a good spot right next to Superdry and near the highly controversial Boots Corner and the incredibly new tacky artificial grass outside Starbucks. What's that about?
The interior is stripped back industrial with exposed brick and wood walls. There's a mix of tables, chairs stools and a long sofa down one f the walls. Hanging bulbs light the place nicely but very much like the menu, it isn't over complicated.
On the back of your paper place mat you will find six burgers, eight sides with a couple of monthly specials on a board on the wall. You can double up on each burger if you're that way inclined. The Holee Cow is the house burger, then you have Smokey Bacon & Cheese which is self explanatory, P.I.T.M (Piggy in the Middle) with smoked pulled pork, The Lamburghini, yep you've got it, a lamb kofte patty, The Spicy Clucker, a buttermilk marinated & dredged chicken breast with buffalo hot sauce and their vegetarian option The Bean Bag. All (as singles) are £9 or under and all the ones with a beef patty contains locally sourced West Gloucestershire beef.
We both chose the Smokey Bacon and cheese (one single and one double) with a side of both Truffle Cheese fries and Loaded Pulled Pork and Jalapeño sweet potato fries. Bacon Cheese Fries, Macaroni Cheese Bites and Chicken Wings are also available.
The brioche buns were lightly toasted, cheese was dripping out over the pattys and the bacon was properly crispy and as smokey as described. The fries were both superb with generous amounts of toppings. I can't remember lunch ever tasting so good.
It's like survival of the fittest for burger restaurants in Cheltenham and these guys are in fine physical shape. Find me a better burger in town... I'll wait.
Look out for their new Holee Clucker restaurant launching in November!
Today marks the start of Seafood Week and where better to spend at the brilliant Hook at The Fish Hotel.
To mark the event, they have created the Ultimate Seafood Platter to share as well as eight awesome daily specials.
Check out how they're celebrating below or visit www.thefishhotel.co.uk/eat/hook-by-martin-burge. If you are yet to visit Hook then we highly recommend booking!
The final 25 restaurants in The Times' Critics Top 100 have been announced this morning and three more from the Cotswolds have made the list.
The list sees critics Marina O’Loughlin and Giles Coren choosing their favourites from all over the UK.
The Bell at Sapperton
Cracking pub in a proper quiet little Gloucestershire village. Been going on and off for years. Used to love picnics on a rug in the front garden, but they have tables now (posh!). Most recently thrilled by a burrata and heritage-tomato salad, flat-iron chimichurri chicken, top-flight kids’ burgers and pints of Pliny the Elderflower. Get it? Pliny the . . . oh, go away.
Simpsons Fish and Chips, Cheltenham
This former Chippy of the Year squats on a corner off the main road looking more than anything like a bicycle shop or carwash. There’s a large, airy takeaway section on the right-hand side and, on the left, a big, bright, wonderfully fresh-smelling eat-in restaurant, which had a Union Jack-themed refurb recently but kept a bit of an American diner feel along with its wooden floorboards and black and white tiles, and retained just enough nautical tat (mermaids, anchors) to remind us exactly where we are. The incredibly helpful and smiley service staff wear 1950s-style waitress outfits, but black for a bit of chic, with red hairbands — all of which is comforting to the relatively elderly clientele I found at noon on a Saturday taking advantage of the £8.50 “senior meal” deal. Which shows the place feels just as strong a sense of responsibility for the local human community as it does for the maritime one, everything here being not just accredited but warmly endorsed and indeed positively frothed over by the Marine Stewardship Council. The food is good and cheap (for fish). Between us, my wife and two small children put away a half portion of battered scampi (£4), langoustine (£5) and king prawns (£5) in which the scampi and langoustine were kept admirably pink and translucent by the batter, but the prawns could have done with removal of the pooey digestive tract. Then also two slices of battered halloumi (£3 — fluffy, salty), a £2 bowl of frickles (fried, battered pickles — very modern), a haddock (£9) and, from the kids’ menu, some fish bites and a sausage.
The Old Butcher’s, Stow on the Wold
Well-established fish restaurant on the high street of this beautiful, friendly, much-maligned-by-urban-snobs Cotswold market town with young staff, great produce and a very modern shabby chic vibe. I like to sit outside at the front scoffing lobster and chips or scallops with seaweed butter or a truncheon of char-grilled monkfish with a bottle of picpoul, gazing at the view down the hill. They give you blankets when the weather turns cold. It’s the best.
You can see all of the final 25 restaurants by following the link below and the rest of the list on our previous blog post.
You might have seen in this weekend's edition of The Times where critics Giles Coren and Marina O’Loughlin chose their top 100 eating spots in the UK.
Four of Giles' choices are right here in the Cotswolds and we have listed them below with the extract from The Times.
The Hare, Milton-under-Wychwood, Oxfordshire
Lovely pub where the star is the daily changing fish board, from which I’ve had excellent gravlax of Scottish salmon with roasted beetroot and horseradish crème fraîche, brilliantly crisp and clean monkfish cheeks breaded and deep-fried with a marvellous tartare sauce, and a stunningly good fillet of black bream, huge, crisped on the skin side, perfectly sweet and moist, on top of a big tangle of crab linguine. It could easily have fed two and at £16.50 puts London portions to shame.
The Bell Inn, Langford, Oxfordshire
Best little food pub in the world? Probably. They put a pizza oven in mostly for the pizza, but blackened, crackling flatbread running with melty marrowfat and scattered with parsley fair blew me away — and when I rolled it up around some slices of the exquisite aged roasted sirloin and drizzled over it some dark, sticky gravy, I was in actual heaven. Walk it off in the graveyard next door — there’s an 8th-century rood relief on which the Christ appears to have enjoyed his lunch so much, his head has fallen off
The King’s Head, Bledington, Oxfordshire
Beautiful pub in a beautiful village with exceptional cooking and terrific staff. The best thing about it for me is the playground outside on the village green which also has acres of grass, a stream and bridges so that you can eat and drink all afternoon with the kids having a riot in plain sight. In summer an old-fashioned ice cream hut does roaring trade and if you’re lucky you can eat one while laughing at, sorry, intently watching a bit of morris dancing. The whole experience is rightfully one of legend in this part of Oxfordshire.
Russell’s Fish and Chips, Broadway, Worcestershire
Call it twee, gentrified, whatever words you feel the need to use when denigrating a rural market town that has decided not to be depressing and horrid, but I like Broadway. And this excellent modern chip shop is one of the best things in it. There are restrained quantities of jolly nautical tat, blackboards revealing daily specials and a separate board that announced, “The potatoes we are chipping are marfona” — not a variety I know, but I am quite certain that anywhere offering to name your chip potato variety will probably feed you very nicely. And it did. This is absolutely top-quality fish and chips, with haddock and cod offered, as well as plaice either breaded or grilled, whole tail scampi, fish cakes or fish finger sandwich with fantastic chips (dry, firm, nutty), a paper pot of good tartare, smashed peas and a lemon wedge. A big old-school prawn cocktail for £4.95 was also beautifully done.
The list is in two installments on the Times website. Luckily if you sign up, you get 2 articles free. You can find them below.
First Installment - www.thetimes.co.uk/article/best-places-to-eat-in-the-uk-8gzjdb9f9
Second Installment - www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/times2/best-places-to-eat-in-the-uk-our-critics-reveal-their-favourite-restaurants-rv8dgvczs
MOSCATEL MERSEGUERA 2016 TRAGOLARGO BLANCO
A white wine from Alicante in South East Spain which is amazingly orange in colour! This is due to “skin-contact” where the skin is in contact with the wine for a short amount of time meaning the tannins and characteristics of the skin are partially displayed, similar to how red wine is made. Flavour wise you can expect a dry beginning (due to the skin-contact) followed by a beautiful, almost orange nectar flavour due to the Moscatel grape. A very well balanced wine and a must for anybody wanting to try something new!
THE PLOUGH AT COLD ASTON
The Plough Inn Cold Aston is a beautiful Cotswold pub recently taken over by husband and wife team Thomas & Josie Hughes. Expect a warm welcome as soon as you walk in the door (either by the roaring fire or the smiles of the staff) in this traditional 17th Century Pub. Grab a drink at the bar and choose from a great selection of craft beers, real ales, wines & spirits. Or, if you are feeling hungry grab a table and enjoy anything from a bar snack to a full three course meal. The menu changes with the seasons but always focuses on fresh, high quality and local ingredients
With summer now leaving us for another year, some of you are probably already craving a bit of après-ski. Well guess what?, you can now enjoy a little bit of Courchevel in the Cotswolds!
From 12th November to 21st December, The Dormy House in Broadway have created 'Piste at The Potting Shed", a new pop-up Alpine dining cabin.
Within its wooden walls, groups of up to 30 can feast on three courses of authentic Swiss flavours – including a classic cheese fondue and roast pork loin with rösti and a hot G&T on arrival, as well as their own dedicated bar and a music system.
Check out www.dormyhouse.co.uk/occasions/piste-at-the-potting-shed for more information and to book!
‘On the final day of 2017, I had not just the best mouthful of the year, but the best mouthful of my life’ claimed Giles Coren of a pub that had only been back open for five weeks after a couple of years in the wilderness. It was high praise indeed and something that appears on flyers on each table, but was also a lot of pressure for the new bosses Tom Noest and Peter Creed who's covers grew from twenty a night to over sixty with visitors looking for their 'mouthful of a lifetime'.
The pub is small and snug with painted walls, exposed beams and stone, mismatched art and furniture and flagstones throughout. We headed to the bar for a pre-dinner drink and discovered Wood Brothers Gin for the first time, created by brothers Ed and Charlie on a farm just down the road. We sat at a barrel that doubles as a table and enjoyed some Padron Peppers and Rock Salt before moving into the dining room.
The menu mixes modern and classic with simple and seasonal and includes an abundance of dishes large and small. The beautifully blistered garlic, parsley and bone marrow flat bread is delivered straight from the pizza oven, that you catch a glimpse of every time the kitchen door opens, is a must and is perfect for sharing. This was followed by Salt Cod Fritters and Buttermilk Fried Chicken to officially start although we had definitely started two courses ago. Both were served with aioli, the latter with a choice of garlic or chilli. We opted for chilli which generated a kick of heat in every bite.
The mains soon followed (Lamb Neck Fillet and Rainbow Chard and the Cheese Burger and fries) along with the extensive wine list that was heavily French and European with the addition of a few from the New World, a red, two whites and a sparkling from the Poulton Hill Estate that's just 20 minutes away and one from Lebanon. While she opted for a large glass of red which arrived in a carafe, I went for Bobby's Beer that was on tap behind the bar.
I had had my eye on the Lamb Neck Fillet while looking at the sample menu a few days in advance of our visit. It didn't disappoint, in fact, it was possibly the best dish I have eaten this year. The pink tender meat with an incredible salty crumb exploding with garlic and anchovy and the beautifully cooked chard blew me away. A dish you would expect to find at over £20 in most other places was just £14. The side of mash I ordered worked very well too. The Cheese Burger was recommended by Pete. A meal once looked upon as dull and pointless is now a mainstay on every good menu. The meat in this one perfectly cooked, the sauce was similar to what you might find in a Big Mac (completely intentional as Pete's favourite burger) yet nicer and it arrived under an avalanche of fries.
There wasn't enough room for pudding but it was hard to resist the Chocolate Nemesis. There were Maldon Salt flakes sprinkled on top and crème fraîche on the side. It was as rich as its name suggests and however much you will try not finish it, the saltiness and sweetness will make sure you do.
The pub has only been open for 10 months but you would never know it. They have just finished eight stylish newly renovated rooms, all with king size double beds and en-suite walk in showers and again you will be shocked at the prices that start from just over £70 a night B&B. Their ethos is all about offering people good food, good wine, good beer and a good experience and they do it in droves. The manner in which they cater for everyone; young and old, local and further afield and deliver it with such quality, ease and value is simply outstanding.
The Ebrington Arms near Chipping Campden has scooped yet another award to add to their collection.
They have been awarded ‘County Dining Pub of the Year 2019’ by The Good Pub Guide beating off strong competition from over a thousand pubs across the whole of Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds, one of the UK’s favourite foodie areas.
The pub has held two AA rosettes for 9 consecutive years and was voted Number 1 Village Inn by The Times in 2017
JEAN PAUL THEVENET MORGON 'LE CLACHET' 2015 BEAUJOLAIS
Jean-Paul Thévenet is one of the winemakers responsible for bringing greatness back to
Beaujolais. He is very old school in his winemaking philosophy and makes this wine from 70
year-old vines in the Morgon area, which are cultivated organically and yield very little fruit.
The grapes are fermented with natural yeasts without the addition of any sulphur dioxide.
After fermentation Thévenet ages the wine for eight months in used oak barrels that he gets
from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti before being bottled without filtration.
Bursting with aromas of bright red fruit which explode on the palate, the wine has a
wonderful brine-like quality and a long cooling mineral finish. This is what Beaujolais is really
THE GRAPE ESCAPE
The Grape Escape is a wine bar in Cheltenham offering a selection of over 250 labels and a
weekly changing list of wines available by the glass. The bar is run by wine-loving husband
and wife team Ant and Zo who's passion is infectious and service is impeccable.
There are regular events including wine tasting, quizzes as well as some amazing daily offers. On the first Monday of every month they host a wine tasting event, giving you the chance to try some fine wines from all over the world. The tastings are all themed and might cover a specific region, grape variety or even a single producer.
There are a few things in life that I'm very sceptical about and chain pubs are pretty high up on my list.
The Frogmill, which is now owned by Brakspear, has recently undergone a huge renovation which has transformed what was a tired country inn into a beautiful looking pub with 28 boutique rooms. The patio is one of the best places to sink a drink in the sunshine, I for one enjoyed a few afternoons on the sun loungers during the recent heatwave.
My only other experiences of Brakspear establishments have been The Porch House and The Sheep, both in Stow on the Wold. The food is always pretty good but the service in both can be a little trying to say the least so I was intrigued (slightly concerned) to see what it would be like at The Frogmill.
We were greeted three times by three different members of staff, the third of which showed us to our table in the restaurant that was full to the brim which is very good for a Thursday. We shouldn't ignore the fact that it took nearly an hour for our food order to be taken, however, I would hazard a guess that it was delaying tactics enabling the kitchen to cope. This doesn't really bother me as I'm out for the evening and would always much prefer to be sat in a restaurant that's buzzing than an empty one with no atmosphere.
Our starters arrived, Smoked King Scallops with summer pea velouté, pancetta and nasturtium oil (£11.95) and Summer Lobster Ceviche, BBQ’d watermelon, sweetcorn & jalapeño succotash (£14.50). Both were simply delicious and were generous in size. The scallops were the fattest juiciest we've had away from the coast and the freshness of the BBQ's fruit with the lobster was truly delightful.
All day leading up to the meal I was craving a good chunk of meat. Luckily there is an extensive grill menu that includes three steaks, whisky glazed pork belly ribs, tuna, lobster and the 16oz pork tomahawk (£16.50) that we ordered along with a medium-rare (it arrived with a stick in it telling us it was medium-rare too just in case we had forgotten what we ordered) 8oz ribeye steak (£20). None of the dishes from the grill menu come with any sides which, as I have mentioned before, is a pet hate of mine. The menu recommends three sides between two people but two was enough. There are heaps to choose from and we opted for Lobster Bisque Macaroni Cheese (£6.50) and some incredible Parmesan & Truffle fries (£5). The steak was perfectly cooked and you could tell that it was a real quality piece of meat, as was the pork. Both were seasoned well and the sides, and a pot of Béarnaise sauce, worked really well and again were generous in size.
Like with the meat craving, I really fancied some cheese too so followed this with The Frogmill Cheeseboard (£8) which included a blue, a creamy goats cheese, a cheddar, some wonderful crab apple jelly and crackers.
The food was faultless. The service was really good and the staff all extremely attentive and wonderfully friendly hosts. There were a few teething problems as you would expect but nothing major and certainly nothing that couldn't easily be ironed out quickly.
What Brakspear have done to The Frogmill is truly outstanding. They have created a country inn for all seasons that has the potential of becoming one of the most popular venues in the Cotswolds.
Cheltenham based seafood restaurant Puslane has made the UK semi-finalist shortlist for Seafood Restaurant of the Year that comprises of twelve restaurants.
The award, presented by Seafish and The Caterer, is designed to find the best restaurants cooking and serving delicious seafood dishes.
The competition was created to find restaurants demonstrating both excellent examples of the cooking and serving of fish and shellfish, as well as evidence of fish and shellfish knowledge among their staff both front and back of house.
The Halfway House in Kineton near Guiting Power has created a range of Sunday Roast Burgers. However, these are no ordinary burgers. The usual bread bun has been replaced by Yorkshire Puddings and they are served with roast potatoes and a pot of thick gravy for dipping.
Which one would you choose?
To book a table at The Halfway House, please call 01451 850344
If you follow our Instagram you will see that I spend many weekend mornings eating breakfast or brunch at The Hive in Stow on the Wold.
The breakfast/brunch menu is small but full of delicious dishes including one of my favourite plates of food at the moment- smashed avocado, chilli jam, poached eggs and bacon (for an extra £2) on sourdough. The chilli jam under the avo is a massive game changer and something that I would never had naturally added to my breakfast. It also benefits from the additional bacon.
It's actually that good that I recreated it at home using some of my favourite producers and adding a few extra touches including adding some Chilli Rapeseed Oil to the avocado.
Here's what I used.
Hobbs House Sourdough
Pot of What Chilli Jam
The Cotswold Farmer Bacon
Cotswold Gold Chilli Oil
VIOGNIER 2016 DOMAINE VEDILHAM
Sourced from the vineyards of Domaine de Vedilhan in the Narbonne region of southern France.
The nose of peaches, apricots and pears herald the arrival of intensely concentrate fruit flavours on the palate, with a hint of zestiness giving extra complexity. Through full flavour and weight, the wine remains very balanced and textural with a clean, fresh finish – served chilled.
THE LYGON WINE BAR
The Lygon Wine Bar is a relaxed wine bar with a focus on Italian and European Wines by the glass, carafe and bottle. If you're popping in for a glass and are feeling a little peckish, enjoy a selection of Italian bites and casual dishes. In the heart of the village of Broadway, they've captured the Cotswolds charm in our unique venue that is both stylish and contemporary.
The renowned food, drink and music festival, The Big Feastival will be home to the Mexican collaboration of the summer: Patrón the Summer x Breddos Tacos Feasts. This unique dining experience from Patrón Tequila and Breddos Tacos, brings together the authentic flavours of Mexico.
Each day from 7pm, festival-goers will be treated to the refreshing taste of Patrón Tequila summer cocktails, perfectly paired with the Mexican culinary delights straight from the Breddos Tacos’ BBQ.
For those who aren’t able to make the feast, The Patrón Tequila airstream will also be hosting margarita masterclasses during the festival.
Check out the awesome menu below.
If you have already purchased festival tickets, please use the following links to book dining experiences. Otherwise, please add them to your booking when you purchase your festival tickets.
‘Please note: This event is for over 18s only.
For the full Big Feastival line-up, please visit thebigfeastival.com
Oxfordshire-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear has today revealed details of the extensive transformation set to be unveiled when the much-loved The Frogmill reopens its doors with an entirely new look in July 2018, following the brewer’s acquisition of the site in December 2015.
The largest project in Brakspear’s 240-year history, the renovation is set to breathe new life into the 16th century inn, transforming it into a boutique destination in the heart of the Cotswolds with delicious all-day dining, stylish rooms and attractive wedding and event facilities.
Tom Davies, Chief Executive of Brakspear, commented: “We’ve always been very mindful of the fact that this is a place with a rich history, close to the hearts of many in the local community. The renovation itself, although creating an entirely new look and feel to the inn’s restaurant, rooms, bar and beautiful outdoor space, will showcase many elements of its heritage alongside thoughtful modern twists; giving a distinctly stylish feel coupled with bags of old-world Cotswold charm. We invite all to come along in July to see it for themselves!”
With Brakspear’s in-house design team leading the renovations, The Frogmill will boast an entirely new bar and restaurant layout alongside 28 plush en-suite bedrooms. Design details revealed for the first time today include:
An entirely new, large bar area has been created at the heart of the inn through clever use of former cellar space, with the site’s former bar area transformed into a cosy snug complete with open fire. Designed to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere in keeping with the building’s longstanding history, the bar itself will have a distinctly traditional feel with timber-clad walls, reclaimed oak beams, flagstone flooring and mismatched vintage furniture, with a beautiful oak bar as its centrepiece.
Much like the bar, the Frogmill’s new-look restaurant area has been extended with a spacious open-plan layout, affording the space with plenty of light for a bright, relaxed dining experience. Classic Cotswold-country hues will give the restaurant a refined, elegant feel in keeping with the locality, with timber-clad walls, sandblasted oak dining furniture and eclectic artwork giving the space plenty of texture and personality.
28 en-suite bedrooms will offer a plush space for travellers to unwind, perfectly positioned to explore The Cotswolds’ numerous towns and villages. Distinctly boutique in feel, the bedrooms will house sink-in Feather & Black beds, statement wallpaper from William Morris and Zoffany, GP&J Baker fabrics and eye-catching light fixtures from Jim Lawrence; as well as vintage Ercol furnishings in several of the larger bedrooms. En-suite bathrooms will carry on the laid-back luxury feel of the rooms, with feature tiling, waterfall showers and beautiful baths in a selection of the rooms.
Wedding and Events Space
Decorated in an elegant, classic French style, The Frogmill’s new-look wedding and events space will feature a minstrel gallery complete with traditional imported French balustrading; ideal for picture-perfect wedding shots. With a capacity of 150, the space will offer generous provisions for weddings, celebrations and corporate events alike.
The Frogmill’s extensive grounds will offer a tranquil place for visitors to sit back, relax and drink in the stunning rolling Cotswold landscape surrounding the inn. Completely re-landscaped courtesy landscape designer Justin Spink, the dog-friendly garden will boast a dining terrace and boules court, as well as a large lawned area; perfect for younger guests wanting to stretch their legs.
Tom Davies continued: “We’re incredibly excited that the opening date for our new-look Frogmill is almost upon us and the site is really starting to take shape. It’s amazing to see the fruits of our labour come together after months of hard work and we can’t wait to reveal exactly what this much-loved inn has up its sleeves for locals and tourists alike.”
The Cotswolds has been crying out for a decent fish restaurant for years. We have been relying on Purslane in Cheltenham for far too long for our seafood fix so when The Farncombe Estate announced that they were creating a seafood inspired restaurant by Culinary Director Martin Burge in the newly refurbished Fish Hotel, it was music to my ears.
First stop was the bar for a couple of pre-dinner drinks. This has been transformed into a stylish space with lots of fine spirits and a cocktail menu that included a Cotswolds Gin Martini... when in Rome! The bar has its own lunch and dinner menu and is also dog friendly. If you have your pooch in tow, you can also enjoy the Hook à la carte menu in the bar which is pretty cool.
The dining room follows the laid-back Scandinavian style with an open kitchen and plenty of soft furnishings. The menu offers, in their words, " the finest, freshest responsibly sourced fish, sustainable shellfish and a few timeless classics from the land" and I couldn't agree more so don't be put off if you're not the biggest seafood fan.
The Fowey Mussels with smoked bacon, garlic & Cotswold cider were absolute monsters and one of the best starters I have had for a while. If you love mussels then this is a must. They are also available with white wine and parsley, and as a main course which includes fries, but the bacon, garlic and cider is definitely the way forward and there are lots of them too!
I rarely order Lemon Sole due do the bones and my lack of patience when having to work for my meal but this was recommended to me and served with shrimp and capers, and it looked amazing on a picture I saw on Instagram (see below), so I couldn't really back out. The bones were a pain, they're always a pain, but it's worth it in the end. The extra side of fries is highly recommended too! Would I order it again when I go back?, probably not as I saw a picture of the Bouillabaisse on twitter this week which looked incredible and tells me that I probably need to spend less time on social media.
If you have a sweet tooth then the pudding menu offers some treats as well as some dessert cocktails. An espresso martini was enough for us but were were very tempted by Banana caramel cheesecake.
Farncombe Estate have a knack of getting things right. The Dormy House and Foxhill Manor both offer brilliant dining experiences and now The Fish Hotel, after failing to reach its full potential in its first few years, has now created a superb celebration of seafood and something the Cotswolds should really embrace.
À la carte
Let's face it, the weather is pretty crap at the moment and the only thing that cheers us up is food and alcohol, correct?
Last Wednesday was no different, rain in the morning, grey skies in the afternoon. The only thing keeping us sane was an evening with the Cotswolds Distillery taking place that night at The Churchill Arms in Paxford. If you are familiar with the pub then you will know that the food is always of the highest quality. If you have never been then we suggest you try it soon.
Chef and proprietor Nick Deverell-Smith had created a menu featuring some of the distillery's finest tipples. For starter there was Cornish Pollock cured in Cotswolds Dry Gin, grapefruit and black pepper salad and some grapefruit bitters. I really don't like grapefruit. I thought it was just it was just my immature palate as a child but I have tried and tried and still find it utterly repulsive. Luckily there were some orange segments on the plate whose sweetness worked perfectly with the slight sharpness of the fish. There was also a slug of the gin to wash it down with which again, if you have yet to try it you are really missing out. You can always tell a good gin when you can drink it on its own over some ice. This is one of those gins.
The fact I love beef meant that I was looking forward to the main course. Local Todenham Farm beef, local broccoli, broccoli puree, Cotswolds single malt whisky oat crumb. The beef was perfectly pink (unless you wanted it a little more well done) and the crumb was packed with whisky notes. This was "The Cotswolds" on a plate with all the ingredients being sourced within a 10 minute drive of the pub. The whisky is the first ever single malt made here in the Cotswolds and if you don't think you like whisky then give this one a go. With notes of butterscotch, apricot and a hint of treacle, it is a fabulous introductory dram and truly exceptional for a 3 year-old.
For dessert there was The Churchill's take on an Affogato served with the distillery's Figgy Liquor. Now this stuff is the difference between remembering your night and not. It's made in small batches and sold exclusively at the distillery, apart from 4 bottles that are at The Churchill. It's 41% ABV and absolutely delicious. It literally is, as described, a "figgy fruitcake in a bottle". It should however have a warning on the bottle like you get when you go on long-haul flights to take a lap of the pub every now and again to make sure your legs still work. The dessert was light with one scoop of ice cream. We were recommended to pour our figgy liquor into it but that would have been a waste!
When you're passionate about supporting local, it is wonderful when two fantastic businesses come together to create something special. The Churchill Arms is the only pub to stock a full range of Cotswolds Distillery spirits and liquors. You can also try these on a tour of the distillery that you can book on their website. If you are thinking about doing either of these, we highly recommend getting somebody else to drive!
Two awesome Cotswolds businesses are coming together for a night of amazing food and drink.
The Churchill Arms in Paxford will host a 3-course dinner on Wednesday 4th April with a menu devised by top chef and Churchill Arms proprietor Nick Deverell-Smith featuring spirits and liquors from the Cotswolds Distillery.
This is going to be very good and spaces are limited so don't hesitate to call The Churchill Arms 01386 593 159 to book!
Like a good old fashioned Brexit argument, the refurbishment of The Lygon Arms has been the talk of the Cotswolds and beyond for quite a while now with differing opinions; many all for the changes and others completely dead against it. Why would anyone be against it?
The refurbishment has seen a huge change in direction for the restaurant going from fine dining to a much more relaxed style and feel and a menu aimed at a wider audience. The linen covered tables have been replaced by marble top tables. The mirror-covered white walls and barrel-vaulted ceiling are now a tasteful grey(ish) blue and are filled with numerous framed portraits and landscape paintings. The dreary striped carpet is now a lovely wooden floor and the 1970s light shades have been replaced by some stunning antlers. They have created one of the finest looking dining rooms in the Cotswolds.
Our table was booked for 8.30pm and we arrived at around 8.25pm (we got stuck behind a learner driver). We ideally wanted to be earlier to enjoy a cocktail in the bar before hand but decided to go straight to our table which happened to be next to the roaring open fire and perfect on a dank and dreary October evening. I had mentioned that it was my wife's birthday when booking and she was instantly greeted with a "happy birthday" and glass of fizz. I went for a bottle of Cotswold Brewing Company IPA.
The restaurant was almost full and there was a pleasant atmosphere. Before long our starters and main courses were taken. We opted for one Duck terrine, fruit chutney and sourdough (£9) and one Butternut squash and nutmeg ravioli and wild mushrooms (£8, or £13 if you want it as a main) followed by Venison loin, roasted roots and sloe jus (£24) and Welsh lamb cutlets (£24) both served pink. Sides are not included and are all priced at £4 and big enough to share if you order a main that suits the same side dish. We were recommended the thyme mash and the creamed leak and bacon so went for those.
A lovely small loaf of warm bread arrived before the starers with salt sprinkled butter. The ravioli was a real winter warmer with three filled pieces of pasta sat on a bed of spinach and under the delicious wild mushrooms with a broth like layer of goodness covering the bottom of the bowl. The terrine and chutney was a solid combination and equally as good.
After a quick game of "can you name any of the faces on the wall?" (we couldn't, but guessed that one must be Charles 1 and another Oliver Cromwell) our mains arrived. The venison, as described, was sat on a bed of roasted roots and sloe jus. The lamb was served with a vine of tomatoes. In all honestly I would have probably preferred it with some creamed spinach, or something similar, as it definitely warranted two side dishes. That aside (no pun intended), the meat on both plates was perfectly pink and all sourced locally. The thyme mash was incredible.
We were full but the Sticky date and toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream (£6) was highly recommended. How could we resist? A bowl was ordered, as was an espresso martini. The pudding defeated us but it was as good as we were told it would be.
I had noticed the dreaded 12.5% service charge hovering at the bottom of the menu throughout the meal. This is something that annoys many and I have got into the habit of asking where this charge goes and of course it is discretionary so can be removed if you like. The waitress informed me that it gets shared out to all the staff monthly which was good to hear and the staff were excellent and well worth their 12.5%, particularly Matt and Owen who looked after each table with confidence, knowledge and most importantly, enthusiasm.
Once a tired restaurant living off reputation rather than merit, The Lygon has a new lease of life and has all the ingredients of becoming an outstanding dining experience to both guests of the hotel and locals alike.
01386 852 255
High Street, Broadway, Worcestershire, WR12 7DU