It felt like we had to wait an age for the Double Red Duke to finally open its doors. After the announcement in November 2020 that Sam and Georgie Pearman had acquired what was The Plough at Clanfield and would launch in February 2021, lockdowns and various restrictions delayed that until May 17th.
Even more exiting was hearing that they had secured the services of Hawksmoor and PittCue's Richard Turner to work alongside Head Chef Richard Sandiford. This could only mean two things, fire and an abundance of meat.
Of course the menu isn't just full of meat. There is a cheese & onion tatin, veggie mixed grill and a trio of salads for the herbivores amongst us, but there's no fun in any of that,
Unsurprisingly, and right up our street, there is a separate menu for steak cuts from where we picked a incredible chunk of medium-rare ribeye. I sat and watched the chefs cooking various ribs and T-bones over the flames from the 14-seater kitchen counter which felt like the front row of the world's best theatre. I always find open kitchens captivating and could sit there all day, especially watching these masters of meat at work.
Away from beef steaks, the "Large Plate" menu boasts wild fish on-the-bone, grilled rose veal chop, fried oysters & egg tartare, spit roast turbot (which looked amazing when it went by to another table) and half a chicken spit roast, as well as the classic fish & chips, pie & mash and the Double Red burger.
The "small plates" menu (nobody does "starters" anymore) is equally exciting and includes some exquisite Wood Roast Sea Scallops with Wild Garlic Butter, Milk & Honey Lamb Chops with Pea & Haggis Salad (I will try this when I go next) and some superb sticky and perfectly charred Apple Glazed Bacon Ribs, Apple, Tamarind & Fennel Slaw.
If you're feeling hungry, which we were, there's also a "snacks" menu at the very beginning featuring some wonderful light and crispy Dublin Bay Scampi and three different flatbreads. We chose the Courgette, Wild Garlic & Mint one to share but you would probably need one each depending on how many other dishes you choose and how big your appetite is.
There wasn't any room for a dessert. If I was staying the night, and home was just a short walk away up the stairs, I would have probably dipped for the white chocolate cheesecake or the sticky toffee pudding. However, if the choice is more meat or leaving room for a pudding, there is only ever going to be one winner.
If staying the night is an option for you, then the nineteen bedrooms are all as heavenly as you would expect. They each, like the whole of the interior, carry the Pearman stamp. There is an abundance of snugs where you can hide away from the world for an afternoon, and the magnificent Downton Abbey-famed Oxfordshire countryside is quite literally on the doorstep. What's not to like?
To celebrate Summer, The Scenic Supper is hosting something a little different for the August Bank Holiday weekend.
"The Long Table" will take place over 2 evenings - Friday 27th and Saturday 28th August at Todenham Manor Farm, just outside Moreton in Marsh.
The Long Table will bring some important things ‘back to the table’ that we’ve all missed over the past 18 months... friends, family and laughter, all served over incredible food from the seven-course menu and cocktails to share at their feasting table.
Visit www.thescenicsupper.co.uk to book.
New to the Cotswolds, Pit Kitchen , is launching on Friday 2nd July and promises exciting menus, inspired by the best of London’s epic street food scene, and served in a beautiful rural setting. This inventive new alfresco dining hub is located on a picturesque hillside, owned by the Cornwell Estate, just outside Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, on a popular walking route just off the A44.
Open until late October, Pit Kitchen will offer both a takeaway service and on-site dining. Pit Kitchen is the brainchild of brothers, Adam and James Thomas. Originally from Worcestershire, the brothers have 15 years’ catering industry experience between them. Formerly based in London, the brothers hit on the idea of bringing London’s incredibly popular street food scene out to a rural location. “We’re looking forward to introducing the locals to some of our favourite things; top sarnies and Middle Eastern cuisine! All cooking will be over an open fire surrounded by views to die for!” says James Thomas.
The family team (with help from consultant chef, George Uren of River Cottage, Axminster and The Pony & Trap at Chew Magna) has created small, seasonal yet budget-friendly, street food style menus prepared fresh each day at breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
The Pit Kitchen’s mantra is ‘a few things done really well’ with a focus on showcasing the finest fresh, local ingredients from the surrounding countryside (wherever possible). Count on a small, but delicious range of bold artisan sarnies made using Pit Kitchen’s own recipe focaccia, plus soups as well as first class coffee and sweet treats during the day. On Friday and Saturday evenings, the menu will be inspired by Hackney’s rich Middle Eastern heritage with a modern Cotswolds twist, meat and veggies cooked on open air wood fire pits for ultimate flavour, plus a handful of delicious sides. Vegetarians and vegans will also be well-catered for at every sitting and all dietary requirements including gluten intolerant and nut / dairy free are a given.
Other local suppliers include; Meat from Todenham Manor Farm, breads by Marks Cotswold Bakery, dairy from Ampersand Dairy and Cacklebean Egg Company eggs.
Drinks will include a top notch offering of a select choice of ever-changing artisan London beers available by the can; from brands including Small Beer Brew Co. and Gipsy Hill Brewery, as well as a selection of wines, and coffee from Adam & Oliver Coffee Roasters of Chipping Norton.
All drinks and dishes will be served from the counter ‘street food style’ in a refitted shipping container kitchen clad in reclaimed timber. For those choosing to eat on-site, long, communal tables are positioned to make the most of the views and edged by a wildflower meadow. In the evening, diners will be warmed by open fire pits, sheltered by sailcloth awnings hung with festoon lights.
From Friday 2nd July until late October on Fridays 12pm - 10pm and Saturdays 9am - 10pm Sundays from 9am - 6pm for breakfast, brunch and lunch with further days to be confirmed.
It will be walk-in only, no bookings and the takeaway service is also walk in only.
Visit www.pitkitchen.co.uk for more information,
A new cocktail lounge is set to be unveiled in Stow-on-the-Wold next month, replacing the Old Stocks Inn’s Little Stocks Coffee Shop.
The boutique hotel and restaurant is transforming its coffee shop into a sumptuously furnished 24-seater cocktail lounge, serving up a new menu of creative and unique drinks.
Charlotte Tuck, business and brand development manager at the Old Stocks Inn, said: “We’re so excited to be putting the finishing touches to our new cocktail lounge, which is expected to open early July.
“Over the six years we’ve been in business, we’ve built up quite a reputation for our cocktail menu and so this felt like a natural progression, expanding the space we have available for our cocktail lovers, both from here in the Cotswolds and travellers from further afield, too.”
The lounge, overlooks The Square in Stow, will be decorated in the signature Old Stocks style, combining luxurious fixtures and furnishings with a relaxed and comfortable feel.
Both hotel residents and locals will be welcome, with cocktail and canape packages set to be available for overnight guests.
Charlotte added: “Our cocktail lounge will bring a new dimension to Stow’s hospitality and tourism offering. When we refurbished the hotel back in 2015 we shook up the local market by creating a truly unique hotel that combines quirky design and Cotswolds charm with luxurious touches – and that’s exactly what we’ve done with the new lounge, too.
“We’re proud to be shaking things up once again and we can’t wait to welcome in our first customers very soon.”
Drinks featured on the Old Stocks’ new cocktail menu include ‘Fool’s Gold’ – a mix of Aperol, vodka, pineapple and cream of coconut; ‘Fog’ – combining IPA and rum with brandy, gin, almond syrup and lemon; and the ‘Notorius F.I.G’ – which brings together gin, fig syrup and fig liqueur.
In 2019 the Old Stocks released the first edition of its own cocktail recipe book: The Old Stocks Little Book of Cocktails.
ARTIST IMPRESSIONS OF THE NEW COCKTAIL LOUNGE
It was announced today that The Ebrington Arms has been sold to the Barkby Group.
In a statement on Instagram, Ebrington landlady Claire Alexander said;
"After nearly 15 years, we’re finally ready to hand over the reigns at The Ebrington Arms.
We were approached a while ago and it felt like the right time so we can focus on @thekillingworth (our other pub just up the road!) & our family.
Going to miss everyone who has helped us achieve more than we ever dreamed of at The Ebrington Arms. While the locals were aghast when we rocked up from London in 2007 having never had a pub before, I think we’ve built a sustainable business to be proud of and put our corner of the Cotswolds on the map. We’ve met characters from all over the world and some have become lifelong friends. The Yubby is where we learned the trade, brought our kids into the world, started brewing @yubbybitter and created a pub that foodies and beer lovers kept coming back to.
Jim and I are SO very thankful for that. A pub is just walls without its people & atmosphere after all.
New owners, Barkby Group, are no newcomers to the trade. With a heritage in maintaining character in their unique Cotswold properties, they’ve told us little will change and we hope you give them a big, famous Yubby welcome.
While it feels like the end of an era to us (ref all my nostalgic ‘before & after’ posts of late!) the team will largely remain the same but our Head chef, Adam Brown, has moved to The Killingworth Castle with us.
Bottoms up darlings, it’s been a pleasure and an absolute blast.
Love, Claire & Jim"
The Barkby Group boast The Five Alls at Filkings, The Bull at Fairford and The Plough Inn at Kelmscott in their portfolio of pubs and hotels in the Cotswolds.
Following the launch of The Wild Rabbit in 2013, Carole Bamford will open her second pub with rooms at the beginning of next year. Keeping true to its original heritage, The Fox will remain a welcoming pub for the community, and pitstop for country walks.
Continuing the legacy of its previous owners, the traditional inn will serve a hearty menu with classic pub dishes such as burgers, fish & chips and Sunday roasts, made with local organic ingredients. Seating up to 90 covers inside, a spacious terrace will accommodate a further 40 people.
The pub will house eight bedrooms, all decorated in Daylesford’s signature style and opposite, The Coach House offers a self-catering alternative ideal for larger families or parties of friends.
Daylesford Farm is set in over 2,500 acres of idyllic rolling organic countryside. Recently awarded a Green Star by the Michelin Guide, the farm is home to the flagship farmshop, Bamford Wellness Spa and three restaurants: The Old Spot, The Trough Café and The Legbar. The Cookery School offers a range of courses to suit different levels and a busy schedule of events such as floristry courses, gardening workshops and market garden tours provides plenty to do.
For one night only, The Scenic Supper will be celebrating the end of their spring menus by creating an incredible 7-course "Spring Harvest" menu, celebrating the very best of British.
The menu will be available on Saturday 29th May, and will include some mouth-watering dishes in their stunning glasshouses overlooking the glorious Cotswolds countryside at Todenham Manor Farm near Moreton in Marsh.
The menu costs £90.00pp, with an optional wine flight to compliment for £55.00pp.
You can find the menu below and book now by visiting www.thescenicsupper.co.uk.
From Friday 21st May, Cheltenham-based wine bar The Grape Escape will take up residency at Baker & Graze.
The Grape Escape @ Baker & Graze will be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 6pm -11pm, offering a weekly changing by the glass selection, wine flights, 100+ bottle wine list and their cheese and charcuterie boards.
There will also be some special evenings where the team at Baker and Graze will be serving up their superb small plates,. You can find the sample menu below.
Visit www.bakerandgraze.com for more details and booking information.
The Big Feastival have announced their day breakdown with the confirmed acts, chefs and entertainment so far.
Friday will see Sigala and Sophie Ellis-Bextor headline the main musical stage, with Giz n Green (Chef Gizzi Erskine and musician Professor Green's foodie venture), Theo Randall and Jack Stein all in kitchen.
Saturday's music headliners include Nile Rodgers & Chic, Zara Larsson and Tom Grennan. Nathan Outlaw and Mark Hix will feature on the feasting side of the festival.
Rag 'n' Bone Man will close the festival on the Sunday, with Tom Walker and All Saints also appearing on the main stage.
The Big Feastival will take place from 27 - 29 August 2021 on Alex James' Farm in near Kingham.
Visit thebigfeastival.com for tickets
After months of domestic imprisonment, the twelfth of April had become a highly significant day as pubs and restaurants were allowed reopen, albeit outside, and everything in the world was hunky-dory once again.
It snowed. Is this some kind of sick joke Mother Nature? She's obviously a bitter and twisted teetotaller.
We didn't venture out until Friday. We also chose to go at lunchtime as I thought a balmy 9 degrees was more appealing than 4 degrees later on that evening. My choice was also based on the size of heaters so The Hollow Bottom it was.
Before The Lucky Onion Group acquired the pub, the previous owners had replaced a tiny unfunctional car park at the rear with some tiered decking, a "beach bar", a boules court and BBQ pit. Although I have to this day never seen either of the latter two used, it was an impressive space.
Two thirds of the space is covered with the rest open for people to soak up the spring sunshine in their coats and hats. We were undercover.
I had gone prepared with four layers and a scarf. However, after five minutes I had removed the scarf and two of the layers as the monster gas burner was making us feel like we were in Greece rather than Guiting Power.
The Hollow Bottom has a new menu which was long overdue. They tried putting their stamp on various pub classics when they first opened. Some really worked. The Ham, Egg and Chips is an impressive whole honey-glazed ham hock and has survived the cull. Others, like the chicken in a basket, really didn't work and have had the chop.
The menu consists of some light bites, including things like 1/2 Pint Prawns with Aioli and Chilli Whitebait. There are ten starters, twelve main courses, if you include the four "pub classics" and a selection of sides.
We ordered the Twice Baked Haddock Souffle, New Seasons Asparagus, Chives & Caviar Sauce and the Confit Wood Pigeon & Chicken Liver Pate to start, followed by the Cotswold Venison & Claret Pie (with a courtesy side of fries for the gravy) and the Spiced Rubbed Pork Belly, Spring Carrots, Pearl Barley Risotto & Apple Chilli for mains.
It was incredibly impressive.
This was seriously good grown-up cooking which the pub deserves. It was the kind of food you would expect to see at its sister pub, The Wheatsheaf in Northleach which has always been superb.
We may have to sometimes battle the elements and the part of your brain that questions why you would consider eating outside in freezing temperatures, but my god, it's good to be back out
The Scenic Supper have created a lunch menu that will be available on Fridays and Saturdays throughout June & July.
They will offer a 3-course set menu for £50 per guest.
The Glasshouses will be available to book from April 1st for 2 & 4 people.
The Scenic Supper is located at Todenham Manor Farm near Moreton in Marsh
The line-up for The Big Feastival was announced this morning.
The festival, located at Alex James' Farm in Kingham, is now in its 10th year and will boast DJ Sigala, Nile Rodgers & Chic, Rag 'n' Bone Man, Tom Walker and Zara Larsson as its musical headliners.
The beauty of The Big Feastival is that the food side of things is as good as the music. This year will see two Michelin-starred chef Nathan Outlaw, Tom Brown from Michelin-starred Cornerstone, Mark Hix and Theo Randall all appear in The Big Kitchen.
As always, there will be an incredible selection of street food on offer too.
Visit https://thebigfeastival.com/ for tickets.
Landlords Pete Creed and Tom Noest of The Bell at Langford are opening a sister pub in the Cotswolds.
The Lamb Inn at Shipton-under-Wychwood will be opening on June 21st 2021.
You can see the sample menu below.
You can keep up to date with developments at www.thelambshipton.com.
The first pictures of some of the food we can expect to see at the new Bao & BBQ restaurant were released on Instagram this morning.
The restaurant is due to open at the end of March on Cheltenham's Regent Street, in the former home of the hugely popular Japanese restaurant Koj which closed in September 2020.
Bao & BBQ will be part of the JM Socials brand who already own Prithvi, Bhoomi Kitchen and Holee Cow in the town.
The official opening date is yet to be announced.
There is a treat for foodies coming to Guiting Power this spring. Chris Davey, the man behind the incredible The Cotswold Guy brand will be opening a boutique farm shop on the site of the old Watson's Bakery and shop.
The retail store will be a beautifully curated farm store with fresh produce, the best locally sourced artisanal products, dairy, bread and croissants, fish, meat and game. It will also have a takeaway trattoria style deli serving great coffee and refreshments, cakes and desserts, The Cotswold Guy oven ready meals and meal kits and their very own beautifully crafted Wellingtons, en croutes, pies, scotch eggs and sausage rolls.
The shop will be called The Cotswold Guy and refurbishment is due to be finished at the end of March, with the plan to open in May/June.
The property will also boast a commercial kitchen for our food production and trattoria style deli in the store.
If you would like to experience some of the food that will be on offer, please visit The Cotswold Guy website - www.thecotswoldguy.co.uk
After an intense 2 year search for a new destination, The Coconut Tree have revealed that they will be opening a new restaurant in the historic city of Bath.
36 Broad Street will be the home of incredible Sri Lankan street food and will open later this spring.
This is the seventh Coconut Tree restaurant that first opened its doors in Cheltenham in 2016. You can find them now in Cheltenham, Oxford, Cardiff, Bournemouth, and two venues in Bristol.
There are lots of restaurants, delis and pubs offering awesome takeaways this week here in the Cotswolds. Check with each for their opening times and availability and support as many as you can.
The Stump, Nr. Northleach
Incredible pizza from the Stump Shack
Smiths, Bourton on the Water
Burger and dirty fries heaven
Hiro Sushi, Chipping Norton and surrounding areas
Awesome sushi to your door
Greedys Fish and Chips, Stow on the Wold
Great British classic
Holee Cow, Cheltenham
The best burgers in 'Nam
The Coconut Tree, Cheltenham
Sri Lankan heaven
The Old Butchers, Stow on the Wold
The best takeaway menu on the market
Click and collect Japanese takeaway
The Bell Inn, Langford
Michelin quality food at home
Sublime Indian Cuisine
Woodsman, Stratford upon Avon
Wild at heart
The Ebrington Arms, Nr Chipping Campden
A weekend takeaway for your walk
Great food at home
Fine-dining at home
D'Ambrosi, Stow on the Wold
The best deli in the Cotswolds
Bottle of Sauce, Cheltenham
Burger Click and collect
The Cotswold Guy
Great food delivered to your door
The Find, Cheltenham
Brunch and Sunday Lunch at Home
The Bathurst Arms, North Cerney
Great takeaway menu
Sourdough Revolution, Lechlade
Wonderful bread, pizza, chicken + more!
The Killingworth Castle, Nr Woodstock
A treat for your walk
We don’t always have the time to research new and exciting wines to drink so why not let The Cellar at Stow on the Wold choose for you?
Located in the market square of the town, The Cellar represents a carefully selected group of small independent winemakers who share the philosophy of producing wines that are expressive of their place, adopting traditional methods and showing maximum respect for the wine and the wider environment.
With doors current closed, The Cellar has created an idea to help free you from the shackles of much of the boring wine that seems to flood the shelves in your weekly food shop and have launched their very own wine club.
For £35, each month you will receive 2 bespoke bottles of wine to your door which have been carefully selected by The Cellar to expand your tasting horizons. Each wine will have a minimum RRP of £20. These won't necessarily be everyday wines but will certainly be exceptional ones.
There are 3 subscription options to choose from, all of which can be one-off purchases or monthly.
USE COTSWOLDGENT5 TO RECEIVE £5 OFF YOUR FIRST ORDER
Visit www.thecellaratstow.co.uk/the-cellar-club for all information and to purchase.
The Scenic Supper returns this April at a new location, tucked away in the beautiful Todenham Manor Farm near Moreton-in-Marsh.
After launching during the summer 2020, The Scenic Supper created a spectacular and unique dining experience with spectacular views across the Cotswolds and served over 680 diners, mixed more than a thousand cocktails and opened for 40 incredible evenings.
2021will see seven brand new sustainably built glasshouses that will host parties of two and four, equally stunning views and a stunning 5-course menu featuring lots of wonderful local ingredients.
There will also be a brand new King Stone Gin bar which will be serving even more craft cocktails, English sparkling wine, and other local booze.
The spring dates run from Thursday 1st April to Friday 28th May 2021.
Book your table now at www.thescenicsupper.co.uk
Properly good burgers have been hard to find in the North Cotswolds. There are pubs (The Chequers at Churchill) and restaurants (The Old Butchers) who have exceptional patties on their menu, but, until now, nowhere has ever offered a dedicated menu.
Smiths of Bourton (on the Water) is run by brothers Seb and Theo Smith. Seb fell in love with burgers while living out in America and Theo's passion for food saw him enjoy an inspiring stint at the much-acclaimed Mash Inn at Radnage. However, like all other restaurants, they've had to adapt to the COVID times in which we live and adapt they have.
They open every evening for takeaway, from 5pm - 9pm. The "Lockdown" menu features eight burgers with an extra unique special each week. There's everything from a classic cheeseburger, with extra pickles and bacon as optional extras, to the lively Chimichurri Burger and Triple B with goats’ cheese, blueberry BBQ sauce, bacon and crispy onions
On top of that there are 4 types of fries, including their incredible crispy bacon, house sauce and spring onion-donned Dirty Fries, truffle aoili, parmesan and crispy sage fries and Rosemary and Parmesan, as well as your regular fries which each burger comes with. You can up grade to any of the others which is most definitely worth doing.
We ordered last weekend for a Sunday night treat. The food was still hot after the 7-minute drive home and the 2-minute photo shoot for the gram... and this post.
The burgers were big, fat and juicy... and delightfully messy, the types where you walk to wash your hands with your arms in the air to avoid touching anything on your way to the taps, which you try turning on with your elbow.
The fries were equally incredible. The sauce on the "Dirty" ones tasted like it had just come out of a Big Mac and the Truffle ones disappeared before a bite of a burger was taken... they were that good.
The whole lot surpassed our expectations, although we had only heard very good things. Perhaps we're just not used to this kind of thing being available in the North Cotswolds. Let's just hope they're here to stay.
Now all we need is Deliveroo.
Heat after drive and photo shoot 8
Expectations surpassed 10
Jeremy Clarkson's Farm Shop has started selling its good online.
Diddly Squat Farm Shop is located on his farm near Chipping Norton.
Established in 2020, Jeremy opened Diddly Squat after realising that potatoes did indeed grow well on his farm and he had accidentally produced 40 tonnes of them. From there, with his partner Lisa, he bought hives and began to produce and sell bee juice, along with apple juice and cow juice from a local dairy.
Some of the products available online include his "Bollocks Candle", tea towles, aprons and hats.
The shop is open from 9.30am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, and 10.00am to 4pm on Sundays.
The Bathurst Arms in North Cerney, Nr Cirencester, has been awarded five prestigious stars for "Organic Served Here" by the Soil Association Certification.
It is the first pub in the UK to receive 5 stars and the award has been a target for Bathurst Arms director, Jordan Pelly and his head chef, Michal Wlodarcyk, since they reopened the doors to the famous pink pub in July this year.
Mark Machin, Development Manager for Soil Association Certification said, “We’re very proud to welcome The Bathurst Arms to the movement of hospitality businesses that have decided to grow back better by putting sustainability at the heart of their business.
“After a particularly challenging period for the industry, it’s really encouraging to see businesses like The Bathurst continue engaging with Organic Served Here. By sourcing organic food and drink, Organic Served Here award holders are helping reduce the carbon footprint of their menu and ensure higher levels of biodiversity on our farmland.”
Jordan said: “This is great news for us as a young team with my first business, the message behind what we offer here is a strong one and something we should all learn more about. We are so lucky to have such fantastic farmers on our doorstep like Purton House Organics, Duchy Home Farm and Daylesford Organic and fishmongers New Wave and Flying Fish, all of these businesses help us source the finest ingredients for our menu with strong sustainable principals. As well as the ethical contribution sourcing organic & wild foods is such an obvious choice for us, as we strive for the best quality ingredients. From beef fed on a pasture diet to ingredients in season, flavor is paramount with these choices inevitably kinder to the environment and world we live in.
“We offer great small plates that showcase our approach using the best the seasons have to offer. Right now we are serving dishes like “Salt baked celeriac with wild girolles and mushroom”; “Purton Farm organic pork belly with Jerusalem artichoke with pork & apple sauce”; and for the seafood lovers, line caught plaice, on the bone with a smoked lime butter and pickled sea lettuce.”
The pub has also recently been using surplus organic vegetables and fruit from the village as there are several allotments owned by the nearby Bathurst Estate looked after by hard working villagers.
“We plan to roll out a five star organic menu in a take away format as well, we understand that in the current climate not everyone is comfortable eating out so we want to be able to create our dishes for you to take home and enjoy. “Jordan added.
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.
Amidst the chaos of lockdown when all the pubs and restaurants were closed, three friends created a new kind of dining experience, in a field, with six glasshouses, a gin bar and spectacular views. Within days The Scenic Supper had almost sold out and the response was truly incredible.
Last weekend saw the last summer supper served at their King Stone Farm location, however, the good news is, their winter offering "Twelve Nights" is coming very soon.
There is a brand-new setting in Snowshill and the 12 nights in December will include 4 tables of 6 each evening, 5 course locally-sourced seasonal menu, with optional cheese board for £60.00 per head.
These dates will be available to book from 10:00am 1st October on their website that you can find below.