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