The Retreat Wine Bar Bistro and Venue
The Retreat in One Paragraph:
Lively atmosphere guaranteed at this venerable wine bar pub thing. Open kitchen, and terrace through the back.
The Longer Read:
The Retreat emphasises its wine bar credentials. It’s basically a pub, and a popular one at that. The location owners have worked hard to build a following and run regular events to keep things interesting.
The wine list features about 15 reds, 15 whites, plus a couple of rosés and some sparkling wines. Entry level red is a Merlot Mouvedre (Pays d’Oc), top price red is a Baroli Barolo 2011 (sic). Boroli is a top producer and the 2011 probably hasn’t even peaked yet. Bit of a bargain at £55 in this setting. The top end whites are all French, with a slightly higher mark up. I’d guess maybe the owners are red wine lovers.
Beers on this visit were Old Hooky, North Cotswolds Brewery (‘Shagweaver’ – oh grow up) and Hereford Pale Ale. Pistonhead, Camden and Frontier beers in the fridge.
Food at The Retreat
The menu is sensibly short, mainly rock solid pub fare such as a Hot Chicken or Beef Sirloin Sandwiches (£8.50) or Honey Roast Ham, Egg and Chips (£9.50). There are a few more exotic flourishes (‘Moroccan’ Chicken Thighs with Couscous (£10), Oriental Broth with Miso Pork Belly (£13.50)). But not so many as to ring alarm bells. Often a pub menu will roam from Irish Stew to Thai Green Curry, via Lasagne, by which point I’ve usually decided to leave. I was more confident that The Retreat to deliver. Crispbreads with Hummus and Olive Tapenade (£5.50) were everything a salty, snack starter should be.
Chargrilled chicken and avocado burger (£11.50) came in a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and smoked pancetta. I switched sweet potato fries for real ones. It was tasty enough, but not remarkable (head to The Tavern for that). Fish and Chips, ditto (£12.50).
The Retreat has been around for about 35 years and is definitely a part of the Cheltenham pub/bar aristocracy. It gets pretty busy and has guaranteed atmosphere at weekends. The doors at the back open up to a courtyard garden, a good place to be on a summer’s night. Their music nights are good fun too – you get a good mix of ages and people.
Open from 12 to 12 daily, open for lunch noon to 12-3pm.