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 shortlist for the 2020 National Fish and Chip Awards has been announced – and a Cotswolds restaurant has made the cut.
Malt & Anchor in Cirencester will now compete for the chance to take home the coveted title of the ‘UK’s best fish and chip restaurant’ which will be announced in January 2020.
Established in 2017, Malt and Anchor describes itself as having a 'traditional chippy menu with a twist', including their speciality fish and chips, panko coated calamari, locally sourced award-winning pies, butcher sausages and Malt & Anchor’s own fresh fish specials. The restaurant also offers a takeaway service as well as an array of fine wines, cocktails and boutique beers to compliment their menu.
Bhoomi in Cheltenham has given itself refresh and will now be known as Bhoomi Kitchen.
The restaurant will offer a more casual dining experience while keeping a huge focus on South India cuisine, introducing an Indian BBQ to the menu as well as offering Thali every weekday evening and Friday - Sunday lunch..
There is a also the new addition of "The Games Room" where guests can play Carrom, a popular cue sport-based tabletop game of South Asian origin.
The Lygon Arms in Broadway has created a limited edition burger named after us, The Cotswolds Gentleman, to celebrate National Burger Day.
The incredible double patty stack will be available for a week from Monday 19th - Monday 26th August 2019 and costs £25 with 10% from each burger sold going to Children's Air Ambulance.
The burger consists of:
West Bakery Bun
2 Waghorne's Beef Burgers
Old Spot Flaked Ham Hock
Chargrilled Pork Belly Slices
Tracklements Onion and Apple Cider Jam
Cotswold Gold Mayonnaise
and is accompanied by:
Sweet Potato Fries
Nation Burger day takes place on Thursday 22nd August 2019.
Tag us @CotswoldsGent and @LygonCotswolds into your social media posts!
The former Hare and Hounds pub at Fosse Cross between Northleach and Cirencester is reopening with a new name this August.
The Stump, the locals' nickname for the Hare and Hounds, will open on August 19th after a complete renovation and will offer a wonderful Italian inspired menu with pizza legends Baz and Fred at the helm.
A huge bar spans the length of the pub, three open fires keep the pub cosy in the winter and there is the sunny garden for the summer months. Oak beams and stone floors are juxtaposed with the modern tiled open kitchen and the huge wood fired pizza oven.
Pizza aficionados Baz & Fred have created a simple yet delectable menu of wood fired pizzas, classic pastas, as well as salads and small plates. All of the food will be served freshly prepared from the new open kitchen.
Local beers line the bar including DEYA Steady Rolling Man Pale Ale and there is a good selection of local gin for The Stump G&Ts. You can also enjoy an aged negroni, the signature cocktail at The Stump.
The pub also boasts ten simple ensuite rooms for anyone wanting to make a weekend of it.
Enjoy 25% off all food during opening week from 19th -23rd August 2019.
Check them out at thestump.co.uk
Barons Eden Limited, represented by Savills, has brought four assets in the Cotswolds to the market.
The assets in the portfolio are Huxleys Restaurant and Island House, both in Chipping Campden; The Dial House Hotel in Bourton-on-the-Water and The Old Bank in Moreton-in-Marsh. The portfolio is available to purchase either individually or as a whole.
Housed in a seventeenth century building, Huxleys Restaurant in the heart of Chipping Campden, offers 100 covers across both inside and outside space, including two private dining rooms. Island House, on Chipping Campden’s high street, provides a rare opportunity to create a new food and beverage offering.
The Dial House Hotel provides 15 boutique rooms all of which are en-suite alongside two recently renovated dining areas and a bar lounge. Prominently located in the centre of the picturesque high street of Bourton-on-the-Water, there’s ample opportunity for further development of the grounds.
The Old Bank in Moreton-in-Marsh town centre has planning to convert to a 10 bedroom hotel with restaurant and bar and would suit a range of other uses subject to planning permission.
Adrian Pearson of Barons Eden Limited adds: “We are choosing to sell our Cotswold assets in order to concentrate on expanding our portfolio of larger hotels and spas.”
James Greenslade, associate director in the hotels team at Savills, comments: “These four charming assets provide a rare opportunity to acquire properties in the picturesque Cotswolds villages. Each one is unique in its character and all provide a range of opportunities for new owners, in particular the redevelopment of Island House could work well in conjunction with the existing operation at Huxleys.”
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?
The Little Bell Residency at Soho Farmhouse is launching next week on Thursday 7th March.
Peter Creed and Tom Noest from The Bell at Langford will be serving a menu of good, simple food with an organic and natural wine list in The Shack at Soho Farmhouse.
The menu will have hearty, classic, British dishes with wood-fired options, whole fish and joints of meat - including kid goat scrumpet & ketchup, whole lemon sole with monksbeard and calms, pigs head and potato pie, custard tart & rhubarb, and rollright, bread & mum’s chutney.
Monday: Lunch 12 – 3, Dinner 6 – 10
Thursday: Lunch 12 – 3, Dinner 6 – 10
Friday: Lunch 12 – 3, Dinner 6 – 10
Saturday: Lunch 12 – 3, Dinner 6 – 10
Sunday: Feast* 12 – 3, Dinner 6 – 10
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
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."
I'm not going to lie, a Sunday roast is one of my favourite things in the world and it annoys me when people start meddling with it. But, and it's a big but, this was until we experienced 'Wellington Sunday' at the Lygon Arms in Broadway.
I'm usually a roast beef kind of person when I'm out and a pork or chicken person when at home. I would be a beef person at home if I were more organised to go to the butchers and always struggle to find a nice joint at the supermarkets so chicken and pork it is. Although we were there for the Wellington, the Waghorne’s (a local butcher, not a type of cow) 30 day aged sirloin, beef dripping roast potatoes was still very tempting.
The dining room at The Lygon is beautiful not matter where you sit and at 2.30pm it was still relatively busy with people trickling in. I started forming a "most beautiful dining rooms in the Cotswolds" list in my head but could only think of another three as good.
Not knowing the size of the Beef Wellington we decided to share a twice baked cheese soufflé. I'm not sure there is a better starter when it's done well, and this one was pretty good.
With just a gravy jug as company, the showpiece arrived as red as the 1st Duke of Wellington's uniform and just how we imagine Arthur Wellesley would have wanted it two centuries ago. The beef dripping roast potatoes were very good too. In a world where everyone compares a restaurant or pub roast spud to ones they have at home, these were definitely better than mine and I could have easily had another one, or two... or three.
After another wine and anther gin it was time to leave. I'm not used to this lunchtime feeding but could definitely get used to it if it's as good as this.
I might just book again next Sunday.
Price: Twice baked cheese soufflé, garden salad, £11. Scottish beef Wellington, £27
This week saw us launch out Top 50 Pubs in the Cotswolds guide.
We are spoiled for choice when it comes to great pubs and this list was incredibly hard to complile. We hope you enjoy visiting many of these throughout the year!
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
One of Cheltenham's finest Indian restaurants is relocating.
Prithvi, ranked #1 restaurant in Cheltenham, is moving to No.38 The Park from December 4th 2018 from their current Bath Road residence.
Their new address is 38 Evesham Rd, GL52 2AH.
Today saw the soft launch of The Ox Barn at Thyme, a 56-seater destination restaurant under the direction of Head Chef, Charlie Hibbert.
Rooted in a passion for the local land, food and entertaining, the carefully curated menus are farm-based
and plant-inspired. His team and the gardeners at Thyme will work together to select and grow the fruits,
vegetables and herbs used to create his Modern British Countryside fare. Signature dishes include: Leeks
with Fried Wiltshire Truffled Egg, Roast Southrop Lamb with Braised Beans and Salsa Verde and Hazelnut
Cake with Poached Pears and Cream – all sourced within just metres of the kitchens. As well as a traditional
à la carte menu, the evenings will also play host to a set menu with optional wine-pairing.
The nineteenth century former oxen house is the newest addition to the family of meticulously restored
farm buildings. A state-of-the-art piece of agricultural architecture at its conception, Caryn Hibbert
worked meticulously to preserve the soaring archways and original Cotswold stone rubble walls, to now
house a modern, dining destination - including a contemporary bar and seven and a half metre Charvet
open kitchen - to allow for an authentic, heritage-rich dining experience, enabled by today’s best culinary
The Ox Barn will open on Wednesday evenings for dinner from 6pm – 10.30pm and open all day Thursday
to Saturday serving lunch from 12pm – 3pm and dinner from 6pm – 10.30pm. Brunch will also be served
from 8am – 4pm on Sundays.
The soft launch runs from 16th November - 9th December
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.
The Akashi Tai sake brewery has been in existence since 1856, based in the fishing town of Akashi in Hyogo Prefecture in western Japan. They have taken the sea bream (‘Tai’) as their symbol because they admire the strength, drive, curiosity and tenacity of this fish that fights for survival in the strong currents of Osaka Bay. Further inland they are blessed with fertile lands and fresh springs that produce good rice.
This is the sake that the Akashi Tai brewmasters reach for at the end of a working day. To qualify as ‘Honjozu’, at least 30% of each rice grain must be milled away before fermentation to remove fats and proteins that can affect the flavour – but in this case, Akashi Tai remove 40%. Genshu means undiluted – brewers normally add water to temper the alcohol level of a sake – so this one is fuller in body, has a more concentrated flavour and is a bit stronger than most sake (and wine for that matter) at 19% ABV. It has a rich, woody aroma, a velvety texture, a lingering finish and hints of citrus fruits. It is dry and accompanies rich dishes or even cheese and can be served chilled or warm (our preference is chilled, especially in the hotter months).
BANDANA MONKEY BAR
Bandana Monkey Bar is a cocktail bar at award-winning restaurant with an award-winning bartender at the helm. Dan Morgan (Cheltenham Bartender of the Year 2018) joined Koj in Cheltenham (Cotswold Life’s Best Newcomer 2018 and Cheltenham BID’s Best Restaurant 2018). Although Dan is classically trained and can knock up a mean Martini, Daiquiri or Mai Tai, he now curates an innovative Japanese cocktail list using ingredients such as sake, mirin and shochu. With 15 Japanese whiskies, Bandana Monkey is the best stocked specialist bar in Cheltenham. Pop in for a cocktail and order from the famous buns menu.
Whether it’s food or drinks, we share Akashi Tai’s mantra that adhering to authenticity and tradition doesn’t mean being conservative or non-progressive. To truly respect tradition is to keep it alive, and to do that you sometimes need to be willing to question the status quo and challenge received wisdom. This requires insatiable curiosity and strength of character to follow your own path, but with a profound understanding of and respect for the centuries of tradition and craft that have led to where we are now. In the case of the sea bream, swim against the current because you never know what you might find.
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!