Well, it’s not really a Cheltenham restaurant story, but rumours of a pavement in the High Street have been proved true. The hoardings have been stripped away and the new John Lewis is now open. Local tea room chain Huffkins is on bun duty in the caff. Actually there are two cafes, we preferred the one at the back.
Let’s face it, Montpellier is so last week these days. John Lewis has lured Cheltenham’s upper-middles down to the High Street for what may very well be the first time. It’s genuinely great to watch: a heady mix of Boden couples, drug couriers on their black bikes, reinvigorated Frank Sinatra tribute buskers, baffled students leaving Lidl and the 11am lager punters at The Spectre (was ever a pub so well named?). Spice of life.
For foodies, the topical shock Is that Champignon Sauvage lost a star in the recent Michelin round. This after many years of being a two star. In his reactions David Everitt-Matthias was clearly disappointed, not to say shocked and it’s easy to see why. Champignon Sauvage is consistent, interesting and good value and, local patriotism aside, this seems nonsense. The quality and value are certainly there. Perhaps moving to Shoreditch would be the best way of getting it back? Meanwhile, no doubt the restaurant will be redoubling efforts. So what better time to support the one Michelin-starred Champignon Sauvage?
Incidentally, Gloucestershire is a bit short of Michelin-starred restaurants these days. Lords of the Manor and 5 North Street in Winchcombe failed to win their stars back this year after losing them last year. Both are, in our humble opinion better than they have ever been. Made by Bob (Cirencester) picked up a Bib.
Back to Cheltenham Restaurants
The Boots Corner road closure has royally pissed off many local residents. Not least the Mayflower Restaurant whose owner woke up to find a giant wooden planter outside their front door. On the positive side, anyone who wants to sit outside outside Starbucks on a kind of astroturfed dais can do so now. In general, there’s a pleasant ‘early eighties in Eastern Europe’ vibe going on. Wind of Change.
We enjoyed The Looking Glass in Charlton Kings. Sunday lunch there is fifteen quid for three courses. It’s an ambitious restaurant and lunch there is bargain for the curious. Pic above is one of their starters. Try lunch and you can work out if you want to invest in an evening visit. Nice atmosphere. We also rated Giggling Squid on a recent visit. OK, it’s a chain but the Cheltenham restaurant is smart and buzzy and the food is OK. Left feeling a bit hungry though.
Amongst the best things we’ve eaten recently were the breakfast at Kindness and Co. (really carefully put together), and a pistachio soufflé with coffee at Maison Blanc. We’d called in on the spur of the moment looking for coffee and a pudding. The staff couldn’t have been more helpful. And Kibou really is on form at the moment, a great Cheltenham restaurant. On the ball front of house staff, happy punters and rock solid cooking.
Cheltenham has so many restaurants that there are always oddities to report on. A Basil Fawlty award went to Eurasia when GloucestershireLive posted stills from video of a rat looking down on the dining room from a ledge. It was left to a punter to find a ladder and try to catch it, which we would have paid to have seen. You have to feel sorry for the restaurant though.
Other Cheltenham Restaurant news:
Holee Cow continue their creative ideas for new restaurants. Holee Clucker is their new chicken based venue, opening very soon (on the site of the used to-be-great Real Burger) in Winchcombe Street) and there’s talk of Holy Cheesus (cheese-based snacks) too. Lewis Spencer, executive chef at Holee Cow gave a bizarre interview, again as quoted by GloucestershireLive. He mentioned the idea of a red light illuminated takeaway hatch* with a sign saying ‘local birds here’ (fnarrr fnarr). OK it would certainly pull in the punters in Race Week. It’s like the Carry On films never went out of fashion.
The article also quoted him as saying “It will be quite rustic but industrial-looking as well.” Now, if ever you wanted a local journalist to say: “Actually, could you just explain what you mean by that?”, this was the time. They never bloody do though, do they?
*(no pun intended)
Cabbages & Condoms has closed. A new Thai restaurant is opening there soon. I suppose it’s useful if you can’t get a seat at The Vine.
The Enchanted Tea Room has closed – replaced by Henry’s Tea Room.
2015 Masterchef winner Simon Wood is opening a Cheltenham restaurant called, um, Woodkraft (I know, I know) soon in Regent Street. ‘Unintimidating fine dining’ is the theme. Dunno about you, but I stopped feeling intimated by fine dining some time ago. Looking forward to it though. His restaurant ‘Wood’ in Manchester may give some clues as to what we can expect: http://www.woodmanchester.com
The East India Cafe owners’ new project ‘Memsahib Gin and Tea Bar’ opens on November 3rd, on the Promenade. Let’s hope that the charm and style of East India Cafe Cheltenham restaurant is matched neatly down on the new Prom site. The Gin thing rumbles on doesn’t it? By the way, we reckon the future is in aged rums. We tried a Zaya rum (Trinidad and Tobago) recently. It was all aromas of toffee molasses, butter, vanilla, nutty milk chocolate and fudge. Just wow.
A new Wine, Cheese and Chocolate Festival neatly packages the best things in life in one event. It will be at the Racecourse on the 23rd February, 2019.
Two final tips
DEYA’s pop up food truck and beer nights seem to get better and better, follow them on social media for details. Speaking of industrial estates… there’s a new bakery, Boulangerie Artisan, on Saxon Way which really is well worth checking out http://laboart.co.uk