It has got to be nearly twenty years since my first visit to Michael's in Chipping Campden, shamelessly trying to impress my peers that my palate was familiar food from Greece and Cyprus although at that time I had never been to either.
Back then it was called Alexiou's and was one of, if not, the best restaurants in the Cotswolds. It was only ever open in the evenings and was mostly always full. To impress people even more, you would always book a second sitting on a Friday or Saturday as there was always a chance of smashing some plates in the restaurant.
Today it is much different, but still just as charming.
The large kitchen that used to serve the restaurant is now a delightful bedroom, part of the stunning Woolmarket House that Michael and Sarah own. The seating area at the back of the restaurant has also made way to an equally beautiful bedroom.
The front of the restaurant has had a makeover. It feels less "evening only" and more "daytime too" which it is with the recent addition of breakfast, brunch and lunch.
In these crazy and socially-distanced, curfew times, the restaurant now has only around 16 covers and waiting staff serving you in visors.
The menu is pretty much the same as it has always been; Stifado, Kleftico (which I think I have had every time I have been there) and their showstopper "Filleto Marathona", fillet steak served on a board with mushroom, tomato & French-fries, and it is always exceptionally good. After 35 years, Michael still goes and handpicks the hunks of meat that the restaurant serves.
Dinner is a race against time at the moment. I'm not sure how Chipping Campden would cope with 14 diners spilling out of Michael's and onto the streets.
I started with garlic mushrooms as I wanted something lighter as I always make the mistake of filling myself up on the pitta bread. Obviously I did so again as the oily, garlicky remains at the bottom of the cast iron dish couldn't be left.
Obviously I had the Kleftico for my main. It's the best way to eat lamb, especially when it falls off the bone like this has for the past two decades and is cooked in wine, washed down with a couple of Cotswolds Gins.
As if the pitta bread and half a lamb weren't enough, I also tried squeezing a chocolate brownie in too. I ultimately succeeded at tortoise speed but it was most definitely worth it.
Although the restaurant has over halved in size, it still has lots of its charm, a lovely relaxed atmosphere and two owners who are, after all this time, hugely passionate about the food they serve and experience they offer to their guests.
It's safe to say that it's still up there with the best restaurants in the Cotswolds.
Alexiou's in Stow on the Wold has announced that it will open its doors on Monday 12th October.
The Mediterranean Restaurant and Bar, located in Talbot Court in the heart of the town, has been created by brother and sister team, Aris & Cleo Alexiou and will boast delicious food, beautiful surroundings, fantastic hospitality.
The current opening times will be:
Monday 11.30am - 8.30pm*
Wednesday (Mezedakia Night) 5,30pm - 8.30pm*
Thursday 11.30am - 8.30pm*
Friday 11.30am - 8.30pm*
Saturday 11.30am - 8.30pm*
Sunday (Brunch) 10am - 2pm*
* denotes time of last orders
The times will change when restrictions are lifted.
You will be able to book and see the menu on Tuesday 6th October.
It's with great sadness to share the news that Japanese restaurant Koj is closing for good in Cheltenham.
In a statement on his website, Andrew Kojima said
"I am sorry to announce that Koj Cheltenham will not be re-opening. Despite the premature ending, I am very happy to have opened a business in Cheltenham. An initial nine-week trial confirmed in my mind that the town was the right place for my first permanent restaurant. It is a town that is an attractive place to live, work and visit. I have been blessed with enthusiastic, hard-working and outgoing employees. We have been privileged to serve customers who are engaging, fun-loving and loyal. And I have been inspired by other business owners who are supportive, entrepreneurial and passionate.
I am immensely proud of what my team and I achieved in three years and of our own contribution towards enhancing Cheltenham’s reputation for good lifestyle: two glowing reviews in national newspapers, a clutch of awards and multiple listings in the Michelin Guide, The Good Food Guide and Harden’s. While these accolades were not part of the business plan, the recognition for our hard work provided reward and an incentive to maintain and improve on our standards. They also gave me the drive to believe that there was unfinished business to return to once the pandemic had subsided. I felt that there was more to come.
I have been in regular discussions with fellow restaurateurs and my accountants since we closed in March. I had budgeted for re-opening costs such as re-stocking, COVID-19 guideline compliance and re-training. The prospect of incurring these costs was daunting, especially given that business continuity remained at risk through factors out of our control: a confirmed case on site, or further regional lockdowns and restrictions. Nevertheless, I had hoped that if both the virus itself and the guidelines began to stabilise, we would be able to reopen.
The recent rise in infections has prompted the government to impose further restrictions, which could last for at least 6 months. They are the final nail in the coffin for any hope and fight that I had left in me.
The restaurant industry is a broad church. Some restaurants sell food, some sell the experience. Those at the foodservice end of the spectrum are little more than supermarkets with microwaves and places to sit. I always wanted Koj Cheltenham to do more than just satisfy hunger. I also wanted the experience to be affordable enough to make cocktails and dinner an occasional treat, not just for special occasions.
I loved the atmosphere in our small restaurant when it was buzzing, so my initial concern was our ability to retain that character in the current environment. The task of generating revenues that exceed our overheads has been made all the harder by social distancing measures. Consumer confidence, already damaged by both the virus itself and its economic impact, will suffer a fresh blow now that the widely anticipated second peak has lead to further restrictions. And I expect the trading environment to deteriorate further as more redundancies follow. Even our most loyal customers will have to cut back on their occasional treats.
In opening my first restaurant, I realised a dream and expressed my passion. I followed my heart. Sadly, I have concluded that now is the time for my head to rule my heart, so that I can make a fresh start, rebuild my career and make a living to support my wife and our young children through this turbulent time, rather than add to their worries. Without the backing of a wealthy and optimistic investor, I cannot take the risk of incurring further losses and greater debt.
While I have lost a lot, I have gained confidence and experience in rising to the challenge of building and running a business, learning how to manage a team and dealing with setbacks and mistakes. I have had the pleasure of seeing customers delight in conversation, laughter and good food. I have made many new friends, both among fellow business owners and our customers. I have grown very fond of Cheltenham. It has been an honour to serve as a Director of Cheltenham BID. It has been rewarding to work with Marketing Cheltenham, and most recently TURF Cheltenham, on promoting the town’s hospitality credentials.
I look forward to continuing this work even though Koj Cheltenham will now exist only in the memories of its customers and employees and within the pages of my first book, No Sushi.
Japanese restaurant, KIBOU, officially opened its new, larger restaurant and bar on Regent Street in Cheltenham last weekend. The new venue, operated by the original award-winning KIBOUsushi team, features all their signature dishes and includes an extended bar offering with late-night licence.
Serving an extensive range of authentic Japanese food and drink, KIBOU’s menu includes steaming bowls of ramen, made with pork, chicken or vegan broth, freshly prepared katsu curry, and increasingly popular donburi, Japanese rice bowls. Alongside these, you’ll find pillowy steamed bao buns with a variety of fillings, a range of tempura, including their show-stopping softshell crab, and an extensive selection of handmade to order sushi and sashimi, including KIBOU’s signature and much-talked-about volcano roll - salmon, avocado and tobiko futomaki, tempura fried and served with KIBOU house sauce.
Featuring an 80-cover restaurant and spacious bar and lounge, the new cherry blossom-adorned venue aims to transport customers to the bustling backstreets of Tokyo’s adventurous bar and restaurant scene. Cleverly designed to include a range of eclectic and luxurious drinking and dining zones, the large venue conveys an intimate and atmospheric feel, reminiscent of the much-loved original 25-seater basement restaurant, whilst ensuring social distancing measures are met in a sympathetic and relaxed way.
Choose to dine in the main restaurant overlooking the semi-open kitchen and sushi station, the horigotatsu - traditional sunken Japanese style dining area, raised snug overlooking the bar or opulent 6-seater banquettes, featuring a beautiful array of Japanese prints. The venue also includes a plush private dining area for up to 10, and a theatrical 10-seater teppanyaki grill (due to open October 2020).
The large and stylish bar is framed by a projection of Japanese geisha illustrations created by local artist Martyna Sabadasz, who’s original artwork is featured extensively throughout the venue. With an enviable back bar of premium Japanese whisky and gin, KIBOU has extended its drinks offering to include a variety of bang on trend Japanese highballs and an extensive signature and classic cocktail list.
New look KIBOU is a stylish and sophisticated addition to Cheltenham’s flourishing food and drink scene, bringing Japanese socialising, eating and drinking to an expanded audience looking for a grown-up hang out to enjoy authentic food and an imaginative, premium drinks list.
Visit kibou.co.uk/Cheltenham for more information and to book.
There is no better way to celebrate the end of summer than a feast at The Swan at Ascott-under-Wychwood with ex Hawksmoor Executive Head Chef, Richard H Turner.
From Friday 18th to Sunday 20th September, Richard will be cooking abundance of grilled, smoked and spiced food including slow grilled prime rib of beef with bone marrow nihari sauce, devilled monkfish skewer with tomato and curry leaf, spiced tomahawk lamb chops, smoked aubergine with mint pomegranate and cashew cream, the list goes on, including an array of flatbreads and sides.
Saturday has already sold out but spaces remain for Friday and Sunday.
You can find the full menu HERE or at the bottom of the page.
Booking is essential and social distancing rules will be in place.
Adults £30 and children (under 16) £12.
For all the information, visit www.countrycreatures.com/the-village-grill-with-richard-turner
The readers of the Telegraph have voted for their favourite pubs in the UK and have named 3 from the Cotswolds in the list.
The Ebrington Arms, near Chipping Campden, was voted the winner in the "Best for Food" category.
The Potting Shed in Crudwell near Malmesbury was runner-up in the "Pub of the Year" with The Swan at Ascott-under-Wychwood achieved the same position in the "Best for Rooms" class.
You can find all the winners at runner-ups here - www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/pubs-and-bars/raise-glass-telegraph-pub-year-2020-plus-best-pubs-food-families/
To celebrate the launch of The Alchemist Cheltenham (opening in The Brewery Quarter tonight), we have stolen their recipe for a Classic Old Fashioned.
You can try this at home but believe us, if you head to the bar itself, there will be lots of theatre and a cracking atmosphere.
The old fashioned is concocted by muddling sugar with bitters, adding whiskey with a twist of citrus rind garnish.
Getting to it;
Visit thealchemist.uk.com/venues/cheltenham-brewery-quarter/ for all the info about their new Cheltenham bar.
If you have lived in the Cotswolds for a while, you may recognise the Alexiou's name from the wonderful restaurant in Chipping Campden. While still under the same ownership, the name of the restaurant changed a few years ago to Michael's Mediterranean and has been going strong for 35 years.
Fear not, Michael's Mediterranean is not moving to Stow, however his children, Cleo (who has been the Event Manger at the beautiful Aynhoe Park for the last 4 years) and Aris (who has worked in some of the Cotswolds finest establishments over the years- The Wild Rabbit, The Fox, Oddington, of course the family restaurant to name a few) are bringing something special to the town this Autumn.
Alexiou's will be a family fun, Mediterranean restaurant and bar based in Talbot Court, in the heart of the town. Their ultimate goal is to create a space that fuses cosmopolitan elegance with "'one of those' gorgeous tavernas lining a cobbled street on a Greek island,which oozes deliciousness in every way!"
Their menus will combine simple recipes, with stunning flavour combinations, using fresh local ingredients.
Their aim is simply to create a space with delicious food, beautiful surroundings, fantastic hospitality and affordability.
The spaces will be: (in Cleo's words)
THE BAR - Relaxed seating and a very sexy vibe
THE DINING ROOM - Filled with tasteful furniture- combining traditional, naturalistic and elegance!
THE COURTYARD - Filled with overflowing greenery, mirrors, candles, sheepskin rugs and much more gorgeousness!
We can't wait!
Originally scheduled for an April opening, theatre is soon to be served in Cheltenham. The Alchemist will be launching on the 28th August bringing immersive experiences, expertly crafted cocktails and all day dining to Gloucestershire. Creative bar and restaurant concept, The Alchemist is bringing its famed cocktail concoctions to The Brewery Quarter, which is set to be a new favourite with cocktail connoisseurs in Cheltenham.
The 4,500 sqft venue designed by London agency Turner Bates will feature an impressive emerald marbled bar top and signature dark wall murals. It’s not just the menu that plays with your senses as the bespoke mind bending floor-to-ceiling bar takes centre stage and will provide the perfect back drop for The Alchemists signature cocktails. Cocktails served with a dash of theatre such as the Colour Changing One created with Grey Goose Vodka, Briottet Apple, soda & citrus which, as the name suggests, will mysteriously change colour before your eyes! Guests can also opt for The Cherry Poppins; a concoction of Whitley Neil raspberry gin, cherry, strawberry, citrus and a cherry fog bubble that’s sure to set alight anyone’s Instagram feed!
To complement the show-stopping cocktails, The Alchemist Cheltenham will offer an all-day dining menu which of course includes a touch of playfulness, starter dishes such as the Chorizo & Cheddar Doughballs (choose your cheese level with the accompanying syringe) and Tempura Prawn Lollipops. For something more substantial, enjoy Pan-Fried Seabass with spicy Bombay potatoes, coconut yoghurt and charred lime and for a delicious plant-based meal try the Vegan Cauliflower Katsu Curry. To finish, the flaming Cotton Candy Baked Alaska is a must for a dessert with extra-oomph or, for something a little more low-key, order an Espresso Martini & Petit Fours.
The Alchemist Cheltenham will open on Friday 28 th of August at 10am.
For more information, please visit: www.thealchemist.uk.com
Pizza masters Baz and Fred have taken over The New Inn at Coln St Aldwyns.
The duo known for their incredible food at The Stump at Foss Cross will open the pub later this month.
In a statement on Instagram they announced "Roughly a year ago Baz & Fred achieved their childhood dream and opened their first pub together The Stump, a Cotswold pub turned pizzeria. Simple, delicious food done well. It’s been a fantastic first year and we can’t wait for many more to follow and working alongside our awesome team and customers."
"We’ve had such a great time running The Stump so we’ve decided to do it all over again. Introducing Baz & Fred’s New Inn, located in the beautiful village of Coln St Aldwyns. A stunning pub not too far from The Stump. During lock down we introduced a burger night at The Stump which has been an overwhelming success. We thought it was only fitting to increase this offering and give the people more of what everyone clearly wants. As a result of this we have taken to the streets of Coln! Expect smokey blues, booze, burgers & an all-round good time. The main staple of the menu will be a variety of burgers which have been a real hit. There will be other rolling specials, sides and main dishes on offer that will have Spanish, Portuguese and Italian influences plus anything that Baz & Fred feel is delicious enough to make an appearance, which is a fair bit!"
"The New Inn is similar to The Stump. It’s an old roadside Inn that is ingrained into the history of the village. The pub is currently closed so Baz & Fred could move in for renovations and are currently in the process of changing things around, attempting to bring the inside of the pub back to its original design decades ago. Everything is full steam ahead; the new open kitchen is being fitted alongside the new local’s bar plus lots more."
"We aim to be open by the end of the month but please keep your eyes peeled for updates. We can’t wait to see you all down here!!"
The Gunpowder Gimlet was conceived as a way of showcasing Beaufort Spirit's ‘gunpowder proof’ gin in a traditional context - a drink originally issued by the Royal Navy - with a contemporary twist:
This isn’t a ‘true’ gimlet as it does not include Roses lime cordial (originally conceived as a way of preserving lime juice onboard ships); instead Beaufort have created a ‘smoked lime sherbert’ by gently cooking lime juice, pulp and husks briefly with sugar, then smoking in a closed vessel with a smoking gun. Also, in this version, they have lengthened the drink slightly with a gunpowder tea cold brew infusion, made with Temple of Heaven teas. Garnished with a smoked rum / cane syrup reduction with added black food dye.
- 40ml BeauFort Spirit Fifty-Seven smoked sipping gin.
- 40ml Smoked Lime Sherbet
- 15ml Cold Brew Gunpowder Tea
Serve in coupette / no ice
Garnish with ‘Squid Ink’ rum reduction
Shake & fine strain
Beaufort Spirits are based near Broadway in the Cotswolds and produce a delightful Smoked Sipping Gin and a stunning Smoked Demerara Rum.
A new unique, intimate dining experience is launching in the Cotswolds.
The Scenic Supper has been created by Toby Baggott, Scott Sullivan and Sam Lawson, three friends of over 20 years who each own small businesses, event styling company, outdoor catering and a local gin, and have all, in their own ways, been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Located at Kingstone Farm next to the the Roll Right Stones, just up the road from Long Compton, the supper offers a pre-selected 5-course tasting menu in five glass houses, each with individual art work and breath-taking views of the Cotswolds countryside.
There will be a bar ready to serve a variety of cocktails, wine, beer & cider throughout your evening.
The supper will be running Fridays and Saturdays at 7pm from Saturday 4th July to Saturday 12th September and costs £50 per person.
You can find the menu, further information and book by visiting www.thescenicsupper.co.uk.
Let's be brutally honest, everything is a little bit crap right now. It's OK to admit that. I was quite enthusiastic at the start, lots of places were offering takeaway and delivery and then within a week, most of them had stopped offering this through absolutely no fault of their own. However, there are a few still going and we'll do our utmost to support them!
Before we start, let's make something clear. I will not make this about me and in no way be getting overly emotional over a portion of fish and chips, I promise.*
It was Friday, which felt the same as the day before, and the day before that and... you see where this is going. I saw on Facebook (where I now spend 25% of my days now, the other 75% is split between actual work, Instagram, Twitter and ringing people) that Greedy's, the local fish & chip shop in Stow on the Wold, was delivering. I'll be completely honest, I don't eat a huge amount of fish and chips but when I do, they usually come from Mermaids in Moreton in Marsh.
Anyway, where was I? I have never reviewed fish and chips before so bear with me.
I replied to their post on Facebook and asked if they deliver to my village 2 miles down the road. I kind of knew they would or it wouldn't be the best delivery service but it was a fantastic conversation starter. They actually deliver to a 4 mile radius that covers Bourton on the Water and Moreton in Marsh Wednesday - Saturday. You can collect still too as long as you call ahead.
Being a Friday (did I mention that?) I presumed they would be busy, and going by their phone being engaged for 27 minutes I was right. I finally got through and ordered cod and chips twice, a large curry sauce and three cans of coke to be used for mixers of any rum I could find around the house. I paid for it over the phone too. This is how far the Cotswolds has moved on in the last 2 weeks. The directions were probably the hardest thing "Go over the first cattle grid, follow the drive until the second cattle grid. Do not fork off (everyone forks off) until you go over the second cattle grid..." They didn't fork off. The food arrived in 20 minutes. I thought it was going to take at least an hour and had prepared for that. The handover was done by shouting into the darkness through the door. Them - "The receipt is in the bag". Me- "Thank you". That was it.
I carried the bag back into the living room like some kind of magic had just occurred. We don't get Deliveroo, or any other delivery services) out in the sticks, this type of thing just doesn't happen to people like us.
Opening them was like opening the first present at Christmas when you were 10. First the wrapping paper (it was the normal chip paper), then a box (I wasn't expecting a box), and there they were, the most amazing looking fish and chips.
They were incredible and I was grateful that I could actually taste them after losing my sense of taste and smell for a week. Always a bonus with food I find.
I know it's nothing huge but a local business thriving in these times is amazing, and they wouldn't know it but they actually made our day a lot better**
**They would know it as I plastered it over Facebook as apparently that's what I do now, I write statuses on Facebook about fish and chips.
Thank you Greedy's, you have a customer (probably about once a month, possibly 2 months) for life.
Conversation with delivery guys 2
Emotional warmth 10
* I failed on both accounts
Wednesday - Saturday. 4.30pm - 8.30pm
The Stump at Foss Cross, located between Northleach and Cirencester, is looking to support the local community and businesses by opening a drive-thru take away service and farm shop, welcome ’The Stump Shack’.
Due to open from Monday, they’ll be bringing out their old events trailers from 2014, giving it a re-vamp, and opening it as a drive-thru pizzeria, produce shop and breakfast cafe. Perfect if you are looking for something quick to eat, pick up your local groceries or even grab a beer or two whilst keeping your ‘Social Distancing’ in check.
Locals will be able to purchase The Stump's knockout pizza - made by award winning pizza duo, Baz & Fred - soups, sarnies, drinks as well as local produce - without having to leave their car. Order from the car, park up and wait for it to be delivered straight to you!
Keeping the community eating well, ’The Stump Shack’ will be working along side a host of local producers, including Sourdough Revolution, Cackleberry Farm, Deya Brewery, The Cotswold Cider Co., Mimi’s Kitchen, The Extra Virgin Farm and many more. They have even found a way to freeze their own delicious pizzas, so everyone can continue to enjoy them from the comfort of their own home.
Two of The Lucky Onion’s restaurants, The Tavern in Cheltenham and The Hollow Bottom in Guiting Power have launched takeaway options in light of the Coronavirus outbreak.
In a message to all their customers, The Lucky Onion said.
In light of current events we have be working away on some different ways to support our local communities in Northleach, Guiting Power, Minchinhampton and Cheltenham Town.
From 5:30pm tonight we will be offering a take-away service for food and drinks at the Tavern in Cheltenham and the Hollow Bottom in Guiting Power.
We are working towards providing further food and drink options at our other properties in the next 24 hours as well as looking into ways we can re-purpose our business to support the current environment.
We will provide further communication on this as soon as we have it.
Please see all our food and beverage offerings below and gives us a call to order.
We will be taking orders from 5:30pm to 9:30pm every night.
Please note* You will need to collect and pay for your order. Our staff will be vigilant with regard to social distancing.
TAVERN TAKEAWAY MENU (To order Please call 07934 716729)
CHORIZO SCOTH EGG £4.5
ROAST BEETROOTS (v) £8
Whipped feta, dill & dukkah
DUCK & PORCINI MEATBALLS £8.5
Slow cooked tomato sauce
THE MAIN EVENT…
PUY LENTIL & VEGETABLE LASAGNE (v) £14
Baby gem, radish & shallot salad
COTSWOLD WHITE CHICKEN MILANESE £16
Garlic butter, parmesan & chicory salad
HOT BUFFALO WINGS & blue cheese dip £8
SWEET STICKY WINGS sesame & spring onions £8
KOREAN WINGS radish & black sesame £8
MAC ‘N’ CHEESE (v) £6
CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD £11
TAVERN BURGER & fries £10
AMERICAN CHEESE BURGER £13
Streaky bacon & fries
BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN BURGER & fries £10
8oz FLAT IRON (ANGUS) £15.5
8oz ONGLET (ANGUS) £18
8oz SIRLOIN (HEREFORD) £22
10oz RIB-EYE (HEREFORD) £26
SIDES all at £4.50
French fries (v)
Tavern slaw (v)
Chilli cheese fries (add 1.5)
Sweet potato fries (v)
DRINKS MENU AND PRICES:
House White - £18
French Sauv Blanc - £22
House Red - £18
Malbec - £26
House Rose - £18
Studio Rose - £29
Prosecco - £26
Nyetimber - £56
Dunkertons - £4.50
Peroni - £4.50
THE HOLLOW BOTTOM TAKEAWAY MENU (To order, please call 07398 620737)
Vegan Burger and Fries £12.50
Cheese Burger and Fries £12.50
Fish and Chips £14.50
House White - £18
French Sauv Blanc - £22
House Red - £18
Malbec - £26
House Rose - £18
Studio Rose - £29
Prosecco - £26
Nyetimber - £56
Dunkertons - £4.50
Peroni - £4.50
Celebrated chef Bob Parkinson is returning to the kitchen but in a different venue for a one off pop-up night on Friday 24 January.
Bob James Parkinson left his eponymous Michelin recognised restaurant, Made By Bob, in Cirencester, after 10 years at the stove in March 2019. He was followed by his kitchen team of chef’s Sam Edwards and Jak Doggett, who went onto successfully take over and re-establish The Firehouse in Upton, near Burford.
The evening is a six course set dinner with delights such as grilled belly of pork and langoustine with clam’s, Asian style peppers, bean sprouts and yam tawai or grilled fillet of lemon sole with baby gem, prosciutto and truffle.
Glass of Crémant de Bourgogne
Cup oyster soup
Oxtail Cugliones with caramelised onion puree, salsify and thyme
Grilled fillet of lemon sole with baby gem, prosciutto and truffle
Grilled belly of pork and langoustine with clam’s
Asian style peppers bean sprouts and yam tawai
Panettone French toast, caramelised apple, sultanas and vanilla ice cream
Roquefort with chicory, walnuts and pickled pear, sourdough crisps
Book now - theuptonfirehouse.com/events
The King's Arms in Prestbury, on the outskirts of Cheltenham, has reopened its doors today by Raymond Blanc's White Brasserie Company.
The pub has undergone an extensive renovation since closing at the end of last year and will offer fresh, seasonal French fare and Great British pub classics.
The pub is steeped in history with parts pf the building dating back to the 14th Century. There has been a huge effort to bring the best of the old pub back to life, reinstating the three fireplaces, restoring original beams and floors and rehanging the front door so it could be open from the High Street for the first time in over two decades.
Take a look for yourself here - kingsarmsprestbury.com
We live in a very weird world, and that's not to mention anything to do with politics. Just this week I found myself defending the presentation of The Swan's pie on twitter to a "chef" who told me that the mash should have been quenilled [sic] with a little jus around the plate and some fresh watercress. I told him he was very wrong, and it's not the 90s anymore. Nobody puts watercress on top of food nowadays do they?
It's been a couple of years since I visited The Swan and lots has changed in that time. Most importantly it has been taken over by Sam and Georgie Pearman, the original founders of The Lucky Onion, with pubs like the brilliant Chequers at Churchill which they still own and the delightful Wheatsheaf at Northleach which they don't.
The pub has changed a bit too. Thinking back it was slightly disjointed but certainly not unpleasant. There was an odd little room if you entered the pub through the door on the road. That has gone has become an extension to the bar area with a few nice tables. The dining room which once had outlandish green walls, green wallpaper, and lots of flowers (the former owner was an interior and floral stylist) now boasts more subtle blues and looks more like a restaurant than someone's living room. There was a roaring fire in the other bar surrounded by the best seats in the house and a lovely room, perfect for celebrations and shoot parties leading out onto the courtyard garden which I imagine would be a nice spot in the summer. The pub has a warmer feel throughout.
It's very rare I order bread, or ever bother to talk about it when I do. However, the Chipping Norton sourdough came with horseradish and dripping butter which is very much worth shouting about.
I'm always torn between dishes and usually leave up to the waiter or waitress to decide for me. It was between the BBQ native prawns, English peas, Chipping Norton nduja and mussels. Without any hesitation, the prawns won. They were huge, messy (the water bowl and napkin both turned the colour your fingers go after eating a packet of Wotsits) and brilliant. I've never had peas with prawns before but it worked, and the nduja-fueled juice at the bottom of the copper bowl was incredibly good to for dipping the spelt toast in.
I wasn't torn for my main. It was 3 degrees outside and I wanted a pie. Chicken and leek or ox cheek and smoked bacon, and choosing the latter wasn't a difficult choice. It arrived standing wonderfully unpretentious on a bed of mash and gravy. It was a thing of beauty and yes Mr Angry Twitter Chef stuck in a different decade, there was no need for spooned mash or watercress. If anything, it could have done with an extra small jug of gravy as the mashed soaked it up like a sponge. The side of squash and cavolo nero, curly kale to you and me, was a decent addition.
This was some of the best pub food I have eaten in quite a while. I have a lot of time for places who have a one main menu fits all for lunch and dinner too.
The Swan will lure locals (there's a special menu in the bar with a £10 dish on every day ) and Londeners alike (there's a station in Ascott where one train a day stops from The Big Smoke). There are also 8 rooms at the pub for anyone wanting to make a couple of days of it which we would obviously highly recommend.
Food pictured is;
Ox Cheek and Smoked Bacon Pie
Crispy Cacklebean Egg
Triple ‘Ham’ Burger, Savoy Slaw, Toffee Apple Sauce, Blue Affine, Tabacco Onions, Alabama Fries
After an extensive four-year-long renovation, The Harcourt Arms in in the charming Oxfordshire village of Stanton Harcourt has reopened its doors to the public.
Headed up by Olivier Bonte, former GM of No.131 and Alan Gleeson, previously Head Chef of The Lucky Onion’s No.131 and No.38 The Park, The Harcourt Arms will offer exceptional pub food using the finest produce, ingredients sourced through long-standing relationships with ethical suppliers.
The drinks menu will feature beer and wine from small but talented producers across the world with amazing brands such as Greywacke Sauvignon Blanc, William Chase Rose and Chateau Musar alongside Hook Norton Beers, Butcombe and Timothy Taylors Landlord. They will also be serving up delicious cocktails such as Negroni with a twist, proper Espresso Martini and their very own Bloody Mary, allowing guests to order an old favourite or try something new.
Since the renovation, there are an additional 10 individually style en-suite bedrooms, making this 17th-century pub with rooms ideal for both leisure and business needs.
With the local community at its heart, The Harcourt Arms have created The Harcourt Stores, which will offer luxury, artisan produce alongside healthy everyday essentials. A one-stop-shop for locals, there will be fresh coffee, cured and smoked produce,sweet treats and everyday essentials.
The ultimate village pub with a home away from home feel makes it the perfect place to visit.
It's very rare that food blows your mind. I'm always seeing that someone had "the best meal they have ever eaten" followed by an #ad in the hashtags, hidden enough that some people will miss it and mistakenly believe that they genuinely had their best ever meal.
After seeing much hype and happening to be in Cheltenham, I booked a table at Bhoomi Kitchen. It's the same old Bhoomi but with a much more relaxed feel, new Indian BBQ dishes and Thali to the menu and no white tablecloths. If I'm honest I wasn't a fan of the white tablecloths in the old style Bhoomi. If I'm even more honest, I'm not a fan of white tablecloths full stop. I find it a little uncomfortable in restaurants when someone in white gloves starts brushing the cloth in front of you between courses. I kind of get it, but I feel like those days have gone and it's something my grandparents would have would have appreciated. Anyway, they have gone. Also the walls have changed colour. You know that lovely bluey, greeny grey colour that everyone uses? It probably has a trendy name at Farrow and Ball. Evidently I'm no expert, I just know it looks nice.
The Thali is served between 6pm and 6.45pm every evening (bar Monday as the restaurant is closed) and lunch time on Friday, Saturday and Sundays. There was already a trickle of the after work crowd when we arrived just after 6. How bloody clever to capture that audience with a silver tray of pleasure for a tenner or £12 if you opt for the Butter Chicken or Kerala Lamb. Either way, it's a bargain.
I never eat at 6pm. I don't trust people who do. They must be the ones who go to bed at 10pm when I'm just about to sit down to eat my dinner. With a mix of naivety and fear of having to eat twice in a night, we treated the Thali as a starter and ordered three of the Indian BBQ dishes for our main; Tharavu (Duck breast, rubbed with south Indian
gunpowder spice blend then barbecued in charcoal tandoor), Chicken Reshmi Kebab (Marinated breast in hung yogurt, ginger, garlic, cream, ground peppercorn, ground cashew nuts, skewered and tandoor roasted) and Barbecued Prawns (marinated in lime juice, chilli, cumin, coriander tandoor baked).
Now we've all had duck chicken and prawns before but this was on a different level. The duck and the chicken more so than the prawns which were seriously good, just not as good or a memorable as the other two. The flavours were immense, compelling and fiery all at the same time, and the meat was like butter. It was simply brilliant.
I'm not here to say that my meal at Bhoomi Kitchen is the best I have ever eaten, but it was some of the most exciting food I have eaten for a very long time.
One of Bristol’s brightest star chef’s is coming to take over the kitchen at Tetbury’s The Priory Inn.
New head chef Tom Bannister has worked at some of Bristol’s best eateries including a head chef role at The Souk Kitchen.He is planning to introduce a new, more casual approach to dinning focusing on the social side of eating, using the charming dining space at The Priory.
The Arkell’s Brewery hotel has undergone a management makeover since Greg Heath took over the reins of the hotel in July.
50 restaurants in the Cotswolds have made it into the Michelin Guide 2020 that was published this week.
We have done the honourable thing and listed them all for you so you don't have to to go on a wild search.
You can find the whole list by clicking HERE.
The Royal Oak in Whatcote has been awarded a Michelin Star.
The menu showcases high quality local, organic, wild ingredients and game often 'shot to order' by gamekeepers on local estates, while keeping the local pub ethos throughout.
Chef Richard Craven has been a well-know name in the culinary world in the Cotswolds after the success of The Chef's Dozen in Chipping Campden and said on twitter "We’re still reeling from last night but we would like to sincerely thank our little team and incredible part timers for all their hard work. Thank you Michelin for taking the time to visit us and for awarding us this absolute honour."
The Hollow Bottom in Guiting Power opened its doors again after its shock closure in July.
The famous 17th century Cotswolds racing pub has been taken over by The Lucky Onion Group, which is owned by Julian Dunkerton.
Obviously we went to have a look. The pub's interior looks and feels warmer, and there is still a racing theme throughout. There is, of course, Dunkertons Cider of draft as well as other local ales and lagers.
We also had a bite too. The Ham, Egg and Chips is immense with an orange glazed whole ham hock on the plate.
It has been announced that The Hollow Bottom will officially reopen on Monday 7th October.
The popular horse racing pub in Guiting Power closed suddenly in July before being bought buy The Lucky Onion Group, owned by clothing brand Superdry's co-founder Julian Dunkerton.
Check out the new menu below.