It's been a hard few years for us folk who live out in the sticks, watching people from "the towns" ordering food online like it's the normal thing to do and within minutes it's delivered to their door by someone on a scooter or bicycle.
Well, times are a changing people!
Munch is a brand new delivery service that is launching very soon with an aim to bring you delicious meals from previously out of reach independent restaurants and local chefs.
The concept is pretty simple.
You sign up for free.
You select a collection point near you. Currently there is only Bishops Cleeve, Winchcombe, Twyning, Tewkesbury abd Bredon to choose from. This will increase as the demand from different villages increases.
They will then let you know in advance what food is coming to your area.
It's really that simple!
Some great restaurants from Cheltenham are already involved, including Kibou Sushi, Bhoomi, Marinades and Bar & Wok and wouldn't we all like a Japanese delivery in the North Cotswolds?
Sign up people!
The Collaboration Kitchen is back and bigger than ever! Exclusive to The Big Feastival, a number of their top Street Food traders are teaming up for one-off collaborative dish.
Festival goers can get their hands on these mouth-watering pairings by visiting thebigfeastival.com/attractions/the-collaboration-kitchen
All proceeds go to the charity partner, Action Against Hunger.
This year's pairings include;
Oli Baba x Rainbo:
Katsu Poutine – Oli Baba halloumi fries, pork & Chinese chive gyoza topped with katsu curry sauce, Japanese pickles, pomegranate and herb garnish
Oh My Dog x Souvlaki Street:
Hand-made, heritage breed Frankfurter in a freshly baked Demi-brioche bun topped with Greek mustard sauce, spicy red pepper and barrel-aged feta sauce, shoestring fries tossed in oregano, and paprika and finely diced housemade pink pickled onions
Smokestak x Wingmans:
Smoked pork belly with an Asian twist topped with Wingman’s signature sauce, pickled cucumber, spring onions, and a hint of lime
Other Side Fried x The Cheese Truck:
Chicken Parmigiano Sandwich – Other Side Fried chicken, British mozzarella and marinara sauce topped with basil and grated old Winchester cheese
DJ BBQ x Farang:
Whole BBQ goat, roasted over the fire pit with a five spiced glaze, finished with palm sugar, fermented shrimp, pomelo salad, orange chili nahm jim, burnt chili dipping sauce and fresh thai herbs
My Pie x Anna Maes:
Deep Pan Pie filled with three cheese macaroni, Cobble Lane pepperoni and even more cheese
The Piadina Project x Carcass:
Piadina, Smoke Salt Marsh Lamb Shoulder with goats curds, mint salsa verdé, artichoke and slaw
If don't ever want to forget your wedding anniversary, get married on a day that will trigger your memory. It really works. St George's Day is her, sorry, our day. I actually need a reminder the day before as again I forgot to buy a card. She hadn't bothered either. Who said romance was dead?
"It's leather this year" as a picture of some riding boots was shoved in my face. Apparently we are supposed to buy each other something leathery for 3 years of marriage. Let's hope she'll be as enthusiastic with a few pieces fruit next year.
I had the day pretty much planned; a Veuve Clicquot Champagne brunch at The Lygon Arms followed by dinner at their new Back Garden Restaurant at Dormy House, albeit with an eight hour gap in between.
The brunch menu included pretty much everything you would expect to find from Eggs Benedict, Royale and Florentine to Avocado on toast, more eggs and chilli, with an optional glass (£14) or bottle (£75) of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label. I convinced her that 3 years of marriage didn't warrant a bottle, and the fact the sun was out and we could eat outside was more than enough.
What can you really write about a brunch? I love reading so called foodie bloggers' reviews of a free brunch they have been given thinking they have cracked the world of Instagram influencing with their 28 post likes. "The eggs were really runny" They actually were very runny. "The toast was cooked just right" It was. I would have been worried if it wasn't. "The avocado was perfectly smashed" Yep, that too. However, the additional chilli flakes did add a surprising, yet welcome fiery kick as I reached for my glass of fizz to stop my coughing.
It was 20 degrees and the courtyard terrace is a lovely place to spend a few hours. The fact that this brunch is served from 9.30am - 6pm is an added bonus as we enter the summer months.
The Back Garden is the latest restaurant to launch on the Farncombe Estate. This time at Dormy House, under the watchful eye of Culinary Director, Martin Burge.
The estate has pretty much covered all culinary bases now. Hook at The Fish Hotel is a splendid seafood restaurant, not forgetting the hotel's outdoor Feasting BBQ Deck for groups of 10-20. Guests at, Foxhill Manor, their private manor house, can choose what they eat, where they eat it and when they eat. A concept that I love as I often eat on impulse and regularly eat far too late.
As well as The Back Garden, The Dormy has also just launch MO, a unique, interactive 7-course tasting-menu experience to just 12 guests at a time. These both sit alongside the always consistent, relaxed, no-faff Potting Shed. I can highly recommend the belly pork.
The Back Garden is completely different to the others. It would be stupid if it wasn't. There is a huge focus on nature, local ingredients, high-welfare meats and sustainability. This might sound a little bit twee and pretentious. It really isn't.
We booked for 7.30 and were the first to arrive which is always a little bit strange. We were shown to a window seat that looked out towards the, errrrr, back garden. Of course it did.
The restaurant is beautiful with the fading evening sun offering some natural light. There are plants mixed with subtle coloured soft furnishings and wallpaper-covered walls with a print that neither of us could decipher.
Then menu arrived with a bottle of Merlot and a G&T. It's fixed-price at £49.50pp for 3-courses that would have my local pub-eating parents gasping for air. It's a special occasion type of place which works for both hotel guests and locals alike.
At the risk of choosing off the sample menu on the website, luckily our choices were on there. Stuffed saddle of rabbit, pickled spring vegetables, whole grain mustard, bitter leaves and Pearl barley & Worcestershire hop risotto, beer pickled onions to start, and Braised beef cheek, pointed cabbage, cauliflower purée, king oyster mushroom and Jonny’s fish of the day. I have know idea who Jonny is but it was Halibut with samphire so that was me sold.
She looked up from her risotto, like Goldilocks over a bowl of porridge, and declared that this is "the best starter I have ever had".
It was all exquisite. I'm not even sure if I have ever used that word before.
The flavours of the rabbit, pickled veg, mustard and bitter leaves was immense and I won't lie about having slight food envy when I saw her Braised beef cheek arrive although my fish was superb.
There was enough room for desert. We chose the apple tart with toffee sauce as the picture on the website looked so good and the local cheeses, bits and pieces.
With excellent service from our French waitress (I usually try and get a name if they are really good) and some incredible cooking by Head Chef Sam Bowser, the price becomes irrelevant. For the same meal in London you would definitely be looking to double, or even treble, the bill.
Surely food like this better than some leather riding boots, right?
After a sudden closure 3 months ago, The New Inn at Coln St Aldwyns has been reopened by experience chef Dominic Hewitt, formerly of The Wild Duck and The Bull Inn at Charlbury.
With a weekly changing menu full fresh seasonal food and the 15 en-suite bedroomrooms all all enjoying a refresh to include more modern comforts, the new owners hope to create a relaxed environment for customers new and old.
We wish them all the luck and will be visiting soon to take a proper look!
We live in a weird world nowadays. Everyone with an Instagram account seems to be a blogger of some sort and feel entitled to free things everywhere they go. They bully businesses into believing that their 32 likes on a post and hyped up figures will get people flocking to their establishment. Believe me, they really don't. For businesses, this might be some cheap content to post on social media. A meal doesn't really cost that much and nobody will write anything bad if it's free so it's a win win.
Sadly for me the tide has turned. I am someone who loves eating out. A piece of me dies inside when I'm referred to as a "blogger" as that is the last thing I am. The Cotswolds Gentleman has taken 3 years to grow into what it is today and to gain the trust from my loyal readers. I now won't attend "launch events" who invite every Tom, Dick and Harry just to fill the place, most of whom will never return. I will no longer eat at restaurants that just throw free meals to "blaggers" (a term I stole from Koj). Why would you gift someone an event invite or meal who has no influence or following whatsoever? For me it dilutes your brand. I may be wrong.
Obviously in my line of work I am always offered complimentary meals, and yes I sometimes accept. However, I always pay for my meal with a tip of the value of my meal so the staff who worked so hard to produce my meal get something back.
Last weekend we returned to The Plough at Cold Aston for a roast purely for the fact that it was so good when we visited 3 weeks before.
"Please tell me you have the Truffle Cauliflower Cheese" was my only request. They did.
Cold Aston is one of those villages that you would never have any real reason to drive through unless you are going to the pub or to see the mechanic. It's about 3 miles from Bourton on the Water and the same from Northleach. But not really in the middle if that makes sense? Google it.
The pub is back to its best since Tom and Josie Hughes took it on (Tom was former manager at The Wheatsheaf in Northleach) and is quickly growing a big reputation. The busier the pub is, the more cars are dotted around the grass triangle out on the road forming a makeshift car park. Sunday was very busy. The sun obviously helped to with people eating outside. They are a lot braver than me.
Our table ordered Red Ruby roast beefs. It arrived under a Yorkshire and on top of orange and cinnamon carrots, a parsnip that could have done with another 5 minutes and 3 roast potatoes, along with the truffle cauliflower cheese, greens, extra gravy and horseradish cream on the side.
It was again very good and with a carafe of wine, a Guinness, a Cotswold Lager, Cotswolds Gin & Tonic, pint of coke and two lemonades our bill was a tiny bit over £100 which we all paid and we all also chipped in with the tip.
The Ebrington Arms and Killingworth Castle have joined just 10 other pubs and restaurants throughout the whole of the UK to achieve 3 stars or above in the ‘Organic Served Here’ awards scheme, run by The Soil Association.
This means that both pubs are committed to offering between 50-75% organic produce on our menus.
A recent Soil Association poll revealed that 50% of people are more likely to choose a restaurant that highlights its ethical and sustainable credentials and 43% of people think that having organic on the menu makes a restaurant more appealing.
Check out both pubs on our Cotswold Pub Guide!
It was announced this morning that one of Cheltenham's finest restaurants is to close its doors on Sunday 24th March.
Owner and head chef Chris White said in a statement on Facebook "It is with great sadness that Purdey & I are making the following announcement;
After three and half great years running our fantastic restaurant, Sunday 24th March 2019 will be The White Spoon's last service before we close permanently.
We have had such a fantastic time, creating, growing and running The White Spoon, a dream I have held for a long time. We are hugely proud of all that we have achieved.
Unfortunately, the challenges of running a business, especially in such a demanding industry, whilst trying to maintain a balance with a young family have proven too much of a stretch for us. As a partnership and a family, we have made the very difficult decision to move on and adapt what our lifestyle looks like.
We are thankful to you all our customers who have taken time to dine with us, in particular those of you who have become avid supporters, visiting regularly. Over the years there are those of you who have become less like customers and more like friends, to the whole White Spoon Team. We will miss you dearly.
We’d also like to take this opportunity to say a massive thank you, to our staff, past and present who have shared our passion and shown great commitment. Whenever, the going got tough, we could always rely on certain people to dig deeper than ever asked.
Apologies, but this does mean that we will not be able to honour any bookings past the 25th March.
We hope that over the next week we will see a few of you to say goodbye. We have a number of tables available Thursday to Sunday, if you wish to visit us for one last taste of The White Spoon’s unique offering..… and I’m sure there will be a few bargains on our wine list this week!
All the best,
Chris, Purdey & Annie
Emily Watkins has announced today that she and husband Miles Lampson will leave the Kingham Plough after 12 years.
Watkins' journey as a chef began in the kitchens of Ristorante Beccofino in Florence before moving to work for Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck in Bray in 2002 and then to the Kingham Plough in 2007.
In her time at the Kingham Plough, Emily has featured on The Hairy Bikers, Tom Kerridge's Proper Pub Food as well as winning BBC's Great British Menu in 2014 with her fish course, going onto cook for war veterans at St Paulâs Cathedral in a banquet commemorating the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
I have never been a "new year, new me" kind of person but I have been trying to eat less and get fitter in the last month or so. It's not nice, nor is it fun, it's more cutting down on any snacks so I can eat all the things I love without feeling any remorse. A Sunday roast is one of the things I love.
My previous two roasts out have both been in hotel restaurants. This isn't my usual style. I usually go in search of a cosy pub with with a log fire and all the other clichés associated with them. Turning down invites is also not my style and last week saw us head over Cleeve Hill to the beautiful Ellenborough Park.
The drive up to the hotel has the feel of entering a private country estate. The building is very grand as you would expect and a wire horse stands on the front lawn gazing out towards Cheltenham Racecourse which is just yards away. Inside is a cosy maze of stone, wood and soft furnishings and beautiful rooms at every turn. We were shown to our table in the corner of the lovely oak panelled dining room. It's the kind of room where my grandparents would have donned their Sunday best and visited on a special occasion and why the hell not?
It's customary before I go anywhere that I look at the menu online, and to my surprise the Sunday Lunch was £25 for two courses, the same price, if not cheaper, than some pubs in the northern reaches of the Cotswolds. I was expecting it to be more.
David, the Sommelier, introduced himself (The Ellenborough is well-known for the quality of its wine) and offered to pair our wine for each course. How could we possibly refuse? I'm used to a glass of house red to wash down my roast beef.
Our Rabbit and Duck starters arrived, beautifully presented along with a wonderfully fruity and light Domaine Harmand-Geoffroy Gevrey-Chambertin En Jouise and a New Zealand Dry River Gewürztraminer that got both thumbs up from the non white drinker the other side of the table.
In good time a man appeared holding a tray with two plates full of perfectly rare sirloin, roast potatoes, Jenga-style carrots and parsnips and a Yorkshire Pudding, along with two small pots of veg, a jug of extra gravy and incredible horseradish to knock your socks off. David paired a 2011 Clos du Val Merlot from Napa Valley which was a lot heavier than the first red but went down just as well.
We usually share a pudding but were torn between the Sticky Toffee Pudding and Apple Tarte Tatin so we ended up ordering both. I think David was pleased as he could pour us a glass of Patricius Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos from his native Hungary. I rarely eat pudding so rarely have dessert wine but this was heavenly sweet honey-finished golden nectar and the perfect way to end a meal.
Ellenborough Park is lovely in every way and although it may not be your usual setting for a Sunday Roast, it's the perfect place for a special occasion where the service is impeccable and everything is done brilliantly well.
Price: 2 courses £25. 3 courses £32
The Dormy House Hotel launched their brand new restaurant, The Back Garden, today.
The Back Garden celebrates the finest ingredients from the Cotswolds including high-welfare rare-breed meats, veg grown in our own gardens and responsibly cultivated grains, all sourced and served in tune with the rhythms of nature.
This week saw the AA name the latest 19 restaurants that have achieved its higher-level three and four rosette ratings including two from the Cotswolds.
The Dining Room at Whatley Manor in Malmesbury has been awarded four rosettes with Lords of the Manor in Upper Slaughter awarded three.
The AA says "Establishments with three AA Rosettes are all outstanding restaurants achieving standards that demand national recognition well beyond their local area. Those awarded four AA Rosettes are among the top restaurants in the country."
The Dormy House Hotel will be launching two new restaurant concepts opening in February.
The Garden Room will become The Back Garden, a celebration of the finest ingredients from the Cotswolds including high-welfare rare-breed meats, veg grown in our own gardens and responsibly cultivated grains, all sourced and served in tune with the rhythms of nature.
On top of that they are building a brand new restaurant, MO. that will offer a unique, interactive 7-course tasting-menu experience to just 12 guests at a time. They will showcase creative cooking, unexpected ingredients, forward-thinking culinary techniques, and just a hint of food theatre, again with sustainability and seasonality at centre-stage. At MO you’ll never eat the same menu twice.
For more information and to book, click HERE.
If you haven't already heard, No.38 The Park is the new home of Prithvi - Cheltenham's No.1 restaurant.
No 38. The Park has always offered a boutique experience that combines the services of a hotel with a luxurious home from home feel, and now guests will be able to enjoy the fine dining and South Asian flavours that have made Prithvi hugely popular on the Cheltenham restaurant scene.
Prithvi at No.38 will be open for dinner 7 days a week as well as for lunch on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The restaurant will seat 56 in the main dining room as well 8 in a private dining space.
Woodkraft, the latest venture from 2015 MasterChef champion Simon Wood, opened today on Regent Street in Cheltenham today.
Offering the best seasonal and local produce, Woodkraft will be serving brunch, lunch and Sunday sharing roasts in a relaxed and informal setting.
Their basement and first floor dining areas can be available for private hire and for exclusive use for larger groups. For exclusive hire and private events, their normal opening times do not apply.
Check them out - woodkraftcheltenham.com
Six pubs in the Cotswolds have been named in the Top 100 cosiest in Britain in a list compiled by the Daily Mail food and drink critics, Tom Parker Bowles and Olly Smith.
Here are the pubs and what the pair had to say about them.
The Bell Inn, Selsey
A classic 16th-century Cotswold boozer with local ales and nearly 100 different kinds of gin. The food ranges from pub classics right through to a decent Sunday roast. If you’re staying, the breakfast is pretty splendid too.
The Red Lion, Cricklade
A 16th-century pub with a flower-strewn façade that brews its own beer. You can’t get much more local than that. And they’re good beers too, served up in the sort of pub made to linger in all afternoon. Snack on homemade Scotch eggs and pasties, or get stuck into Wiltshire ham and free-range fried eggs.
The Woolpack, Slad
This pub has one of the prettiest views in Britain, looking over the luscious Gloucestershire valley made famous by Laurie Lee in Cider With Rosie. This was his boozer too, and it’s a classic. There’s a piano that springs into action most nights, as well as a small bar, a fire and really excellent food.
The Ebrington Arms, Ebrington
With its own Yubby beer, snug luxuriant rooms to stay in and dishes that deliver endless satisfaction, it’s hard to leave this country gem once you step through the door. Beams, firelight, food that celebrates local glory and brilliantly brewed beer – this is among the very best of British pubs.
Old Green Tree, Bath
Get to this tiny beer paradise early to grab a seat by the fire – it’s small but perfectly formed. Expect wood panelling and a beer selection to thrill. Try the roast beef sandwich and enjoy conversing with whoever you sit nearest. Blissfully free of distractions, this place is magic in miniature.
The Royal Oak, Whatcote
Very much a local pub, albeit a rather smart one. But chef owner Richard Craven is one hell of a chef. Expect game in season, from roe deer tartare to pheasant with snails. Home-made bread comes with dripping butter, and there’s excellent fish too.
For the full list, visit www.dailymail.co.uk
L'anatra Italian Kitchen in Bourton on the Water has launched Tapas Tuesdays.
Enjoy 2 courses and 1 drink for £15, 4 courses and 2 drinks for £25 or choose from the menu.
The feasting night takes place all day (12pm - 9pm) every Tuesday.
Christmas has come early to Cheltenham with two new arrivals.
The Botanist, a "secret garden" of food, drink, live music, botanical cocktails, craft beers and ales, Champagne and wine and food inspired by the deli, rotisserie and BBQ, will be opening in The Brewery on December 3rd.
Meanwhile, Masterchef champion Simon Wood is launching a brand new Artisan Eatery on Regent Street. A year on from launching his first fine dining restaurant WOOD Manchester, Woodkraft will be a more casual with a menu that will include brunch and breakfast dishes, Sunday roasts to share.
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!
Kuba Winkowski, head chef at the Feathered Nest in Nether Westcote, has been crowned the Craft Guild’s National Chef of the Year at The Restaurant Show at Olympia in London.
Following in the footsteps of some of the industry's biggest names such as Gordon Ramsay, Winkowski wowed the judges with his Lobster starter, Yorkshire grouse main and sticky toffee with lemon, clotted cream dessert.
The award, judged by many of the UK's top chefs including Tom Kerridge and Clare Smyth, was based on theirindividual performance on the day, as they create their three-course menu in two hours in front of a live audience.