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
The Old Stocks has gone through some huge changes in the last few years - none greater than transforming a 17th-century coaching inn into an incredibly charming and unique venue to eat, sleep and drink. However, the most recent change has taken place in the kitchen with the arrival of Ian Percival as head chef and as a food loving local, this is probably the most important of all.
Stow on the Wold was recently recognised as a top food destination by users of a well known booking website, indeed there are a lot of places that serve food but not many that you would return to or actually recommend. There are a couple of pubs that serve decent grub, the Indian is pretty consistent with its hearty non-extravagant dishes and there's one other restaurant which is very good but apart from that, it is hard to find anywhere that offers an exceptional dining experience. That is until now of course.
Our table was next to the window in the far corner of the beautifully designed dining room, one seat on the sofa-seating that runs all the way along the exposed Cotswold stone wall and the one a stylish blue upholstered arm chairs that add a touch of colour against the wood and checked flooring.
After studying the menus (there are 6 starters, 6 mains and 4 options on the grill including local longhorn steaks) and ordering our first drinks, a Cotswolds Distillery Gin and tonic, we ordered our food. Scallop and Smoked Ham Hock to start and Duck and the Pork Loin from the grill (recommended by the waiter as I was torn between that and the Plaice Risotto) for main. It wasn't long for the dishes to arrive. The perfectly tender scallops (£10) sat beneath a squid ink cracker surrounded by small balls of watermelon, citrus beads and a side of crab meat while the prism of Ham Hock (£8) was nestled against some beautifully sweet apricots, chutney and leaves. Both were fresh, light and presented beautifully.
The main courses soon followed with the perfectly pink (optional) Duck breast (£18) accompanied by chicory, greens, plum and confit leg croquettes that were a revelation and took the dish to another level.
There are two Pork Lion options. One on the main menu served with cider apple, heritage carrots, rosti and radish (£17) and one on the grill menu served with creamed potato, wholegrain mustard and pork crunch (£15). I went for the latter as well as some parmesan truffle fries (£3) on the side. These two dishes alone show the diversity of the menu with a nod to fine dining as well as hearty food at the same time.
We couldn't leave without trying a dessert (all £6.50) and opted for the strawberry mousse, elderflower granite and meringue with two spoons. If you haven't got a sweet tooth then there is a great selection of local cheeses to choose from. If that doesn't take your fancy either then you can always have and Espresso Martini or Fig and Chocolate Martini (both £8) on the after-dinner cocktails menu to turn to. We went for the Espresso Martini.. how else are you supposed to finish a meal?
There is often a perception about restaurants in hotels but this is completely different and should be recognised as a stand alone dining room. It simply offers outstanding cuisine without being pretentious or stuffy and is the best place to eat in Stow on the Wold.
Book a table today www.oldstocksinn.com
After weeks of anticipation, The Old Stocks Inn in the heart of Stow on the Wold has revealed that Ian Percival will be its new Head Chef.
With over five years as a head chef all with two AA rosettes throughout that time, Ian has been in the Cotswolds area for the last four years most recently at the Kings Hotel in Chipping Campden. Previous to that his career was spent in Cornwall working at the St Moritz Hotel in Rock and two restaurants in Padstow.
With his early career being spent in Cornwall, Ian brings a love of fish and shellfish to The Old Stocks and describes his style as "modern, British". With his passion for using fresh, local produce and enjoying the creativity of cooking, he is looking forward to cooking great food, building on the reputation that he has developed in the Cotswolds and aiming for another two AA rosette in the near future.
The Old Stocks is a recently refurbished 17th-century coaching inn in the heart of the Cotswolds and the perfect base to explore the area or to just enjoy a delicious lunch, dinner or cocktail.
Choose a knife, choose a beer. Choose a f**king big salad bowl. Choose BBQ Wings, shakes, Green Chilli Slaw and some salt and pepper squid. Choose Chilli Cheese Fries and wondering how the hell you're going to eat it all. Choose starring at the menu picking mouth-watering, flavour loaded burgers, thinking you want it all. Choose walking away at the end of it feeling stuffed and impregnated with a food baby. Choose a knife.. I chose not to choose that, I chose something else..
I chose the undercounter menu.
The undercounter menu I here ask? This is a shorty daily menu that sits alongside the normal menu and offers something a little different but just as incredible as I found out last night.
To start, I choose the grilled octopus & chorizo. Six pieces of deliciousness on a stick followed by some mighty Hereford beef & pork meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce. When I say mighty, I mean mighty in size and taste. The sauce had a good kick now and again and was immense with the side of Mac 'n' Cheese that I ordered from the normal menu. You cannot go to The Tavern and not order Mac 'n' Cheese, it's law! This was all complimented by some Sprout Slaw. The name as it suggests is a sprout based dish but if it was called something different, you would never know so don't be put off by its name! It was mixed with carrot, onion and walnuts and a cracking dressing.
Other items on the undercounter menu include quince glazed St Louis pork ribs, devils on horseback and an incredible sounding dirty mac 'n' cheese with short rib, jalepenos & black truffle. I was torn between that and the meatballs so will have to go again before too long!
Check The Tavern out. It serves food from midday - midnight everyday! theluckyonion.com/property/the-tavern
For any of you who thought this was going to be a T2 Trainspotting review then all we can say is that it is possibly the best movie we have seen for years. For any fan of the original film, you will not be disappointed as it genuinely feels like you have just stepped back into the lives of Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie - the latter being just as mental and screwed up as you remember him. The acting has moved on a level as has the style of the movie which is everything as stunning as you would expect from Danny Boyle, yet keeping its roots around Edinburgh city center and Leith with a subtle nod to the original and even further back in the lives of the 4 main men . It's a modern masterpiece and just truly beautiful.
Our love for burgers spreads far and wide and we are often asked where to go for a good burger. Yet, when asked where to visit in Cheltenham we have been a little bit stuck for places that we would happily recommend. Then like (stagecoach) buses, two come along at once!
In the same week, The (Royal Well) Tavern (reopening after a fire a few months ago) and The Bottle Of Sauce (Cheltenham's most recent pub addition) have opened their doors.
If you are an avid reader or follower of The Cotswolds Gentleman (if not, why not?), you would have seen our visit to The Tavern tasting menu session where we got to try, pretty much, their whole menu which included a cracking range of burgers. You can read about it here if you haven't already - Tavern Reload. The Tavern is enjoying its reopening weekend as we write this and serves food from midday to midnight daily which means you have a 12 hour window to taste their burgers!
On Thursday of last week, we visited the newly opened Bottle of Sauce, formerly The Quaich, but you would never know that when you walk through the doors. Firstly, you are welcomed by good space, a very smart looking bar and a great relaxed atmosphere. There is a snug to enjoy more intimate drinks with friends and, off to the side of the bar, a private dining room and games room, for young and old children, to enjoy table tennis and table football which in no way interferes with the vibe of the bar area. In addition to the tables in the bar where drinkers and diners can both occupy, they have created a great dining area in an old skittles alley full with an open kitchen, DJ booth, lights and tables that fold up and down respectively when food service is over and the party is starting and a menu full of burgers, as well as sides, salads and pizzas - but we're not here to talk about those (although the Napalm Wings are a fiery delight!), we are here to talk about the Dodo (house beef patty with cheddar cheese), The Mother Clucker (Kimchi Buttermilk roasted chicken, napalm sauce, chipotle mayo which made it the best chicken burger we have ever tasted), The Big D (like the dodo but with bacon and caramelised onions) and the Al Capone ( full with spicy 'nduja relish and lots of the above!). The offer The Dodo and their Mushroom Man (their vegie option) for half price on "#DoubleTasty" Mondays and you can add more bacon, cheese and another patty for anyone wanting to go large and why wouldn't you?!
So to finish off where we started, when we are next asked where to go for a burger in Cheltenham, we will most definitely be saying The Bottle of Sauce and The Tavern!
It's been a busy last few weeks with wedding preparations, the actual wedding and the tiredness after that we decided to take a few spring days away in the Lake District. As most people do before they head anywhere that they have never visited before is to use the modern day Lonely Planet - Facebook. After a simple "Heading to the Lake District tomorrow for a couple of days. Any recommendations - What to see and where to eat/drink?" status there were many responses but one that got mentioned at least five times was The Drunken Duck in Ambleside (the middle of nowhere). Surely five people can't all have had a lucky good meal? We decided to call and book. "Hello - Could we book a table for 3 (yes 3 as our friend from Australia join us for our mini-moon!) for tonight at around 8.30 please" They were full all evening on a Wednesday. This was a good and bad sign. Good because it was obviously popular and bad because we couldn't get in. "How about tomorrow evening?" I asked.. "Yes we can do 9pm". We were booked in.
We were staying on Windermere, which seems to be 20 minutes from everywhere in the Lake District. However, with the main road from Windermere to Keswick closed if you wanted to go and explore, you were forced to go the scenic route up some very narrow, and sometimes shit scary, passes. One of which was called "The Struggle" - a name very fitting for the steep climb. It was raining. Typical springtime in the UK. We eventually got to the otherside and explored some wonderful scenery around Buttermere and Derwent Water and after a few hours decided we should tootle back. The rain was still quite heavy and turned to sleet then snow as we climbed the Kirkstone Pass "Aaaaah it feels all Christmassy" said the good lady in the passenger seat. It's almost May! As we climbed higher the rainy sleety snow got thicker and the cars in front got slower and more petrified. "We could be in a bit of bother here" I muttered just loud enough to wake the Australian in the back who had fallen asleep when the surroundings were a lush green colour. It was now very white - Quite exciting for a man who has to "Go to the snow" in his own motherland. The snow got thicker and the cars in front bailed. It was getting thick but not thick enough to contemplate a night in the car on top of a big hill. As I as just about to creep by them a BMW stormed passed - probably a local who had to put up with this everyday of his life from October - April. The car fell silent as the sat-nav told me that we had 5 miles of this road and nobody spoke for about half an hour. We eventually made it to the bottom after becoming a pace setter for the only other queue survivor who had risked it. It was definitely more dicey going down than up!
8.30pm arrived and we set off to find the Drunken Duck. I actually think it is only a mile from where we were staying as the crow flies but yep you guessed it - 20 minutes in the car. We later realised that we could have taken the ferry but where's the fun in that.
On arrival we just full in love with the place. The large car park across the road was rammed so we parked easily on the roadside. The views at dusk looking back towards Windermere were still very impressive. On entry we were greeted by two friendly members of staff who automatically make you feel at home. The bar area was pretty cool and buzzing with decor right up our street with a hunting theme throughout. We got shown to our table which was situated under a large gold framed mirror in the dining room. This was a place where you could be the only couple (or trio in our case) in there and it would still have a lovely atmosphere. Drinks arrived with the menus and we all pondered what we were going to have - the issue being that we could have chosen at least 3 things each for both starter and main courses. Minds were eventually mad up and we opted for two duck leg parcels and the smoked salmon special to start and a rump and shoulder of lamb, cod with braised beef (a match made in heaven) and sea trout. I instantly had food envy as the starters arrived as I was the one who had ordered the salmon. It was delicious with a rye crisp and wasabi mayo but the duck parcels looked incredible.
Before the mains arrived it was time to order drinks to compliment the food. A bottle of Valpolicella red arrived to compliment the lamb, a glass of 2014 Chablis for the seas trout and.... a lemonade for me as the driver to compliment absolutely nothing but a clean driving license. On arrival the three dishes looked delightful yet not fine dining by any stretch which was a blessing to all concerned. The lamb was cooked perfectly accompanied by "the best ever" jersey royals, the see trout served with new potatoes, broccolini and pesto melted in the mouth and my cod, spiced beef brisket, charred leeks, mash was just awesome with each mouthful different but tasting equally as good. We all agreed at this point that this was up there with the best we had had.
As we were on a bit of a high we all decided that we had to sample a pudding. This also called for another drink selection from our antipodean friend as a glass of Lustau San Emilio Pedro Ximinez sherry was ordered to partner the cinder toffee doughnut while I opted for the treacle cake, pale ale and muscovado ice cream which for someone without a sweet tooth was an truly incredible.
The evening drew to a close but not before the staff excelled themselves again with the arrival of two espresso martinis that were not on the menu..
"Excuse me - do you do espresso martinis?"
"No.. but we can - I'll bring them over"
That was the perfect ending to what we all agreed to be possibly the best all-round meal that any of us had experienced and if it was 20 minutes away from us here in the Cotswolds, it would be very dangerous indeed!