Actual restaurants in the North Cotswolds are few and far between. There are lots of superb pubs that are more of a restaurant than a pub nowadays and many hotels that boast restaurants but lack that buzz that an independent can offer.
The Old Butchers is family-run, small and far from pretentious. Pete is chef, while wife Louise takes care of the front of house, armed with her daughter and others of a similar age. The tables are always full, yet there's never a feeling of sitting on top of other diners or being involved in their conversations.
We took a couple of friends for their first ever visit. We'd hyped it up quite a bit for a good fortnight or so which can sometimes be risky, but we've never experienced anything less than brilliant on the (probably a dozen by now) occasions we have been there.
The menu is largely European, full of seafood, steak over charcoal and seasonal game. There's a "Lobster" swing sign outside and lots of it on the menu.
A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (the wine list is very good) and a couple of pints of Hawkstone (Clarkson's Lager) arrive as we survey the menu. Our friends are the type of people who study the menu before they arrive and pretty much know want they are going to order. I'm the opposite.
"Fancy sharing the 1kg T-Bone?" throwing a slight curveball to my friend. He agrees, but then proceeds to tell me that he is a medium steak eater. I'm a rare. We agree on medium-rare.
If Mussels Mariniere is on the menu I'm probably ordering it, along with a spoon for the glorious creamy, garlicky goodness. It was a generous serving for a starter and these were absolutely massive.
The others tucked into Cornish Scallops, served in a shell in a delicious pool of Nduja Butter which offered a bit of a kick.
The Prawn Cocktail, which usually comes with a Bloody Mary sorbet on top. However our friend asked if this could come on the side as she "didn't really trust it". She loved it.
And the Pate en Croute, pickled walnut, cornichons and punchy wasabi, mustardy dip.
Our mains arrived soon after.
They had divided the T-bone onto separate plates so we didn't have to fight over it. It was on the rarer side of medium-rare, beautifully pink with juicy bits of fat on some of the slices. It came with fries, salad and a choice of sauces, we both opted for peppercorn. The meat cut like the proverbial butter and was deliciously rich and salty. It was magical. I would order steak out more often if it was all like this.
The Cornish Monkfish & Prawn Tandoori, with Spinach, a Lentil Dahl and raita looked incredible and apparently it was. As was the 1/2 Cornish Native Lobster & Garlic Butter and the immense Crab, Truffle Fries that were ordered to accompany it.
Pudding was replaced by more wine, while we all gushed over what we had just eaten and started planning our next visit which, I imagine, won't be too far away.