White Spoon Serious cooking in an unpretentious setting at White Spoon.
The Tavern in One Paragraph:
Ambitious restaurant which serves bread in flowerpots. Good sourcing of ingredients and one of the nicest front of house teams in Cheltenham.
The Longer Read:
When The White Spoon opened, the local media zeroed in on the fact that the chef, Chris White, had worked for The Fat Duck restaurant group. This led to speculation about the style of cuisine, since these days the word ‘Heston’ is a lazy shorthand for ‘wacky in the kitchen’. In fact, The White Spoon simply offers a more relaxed approach to modern cuisine based on rock solid cooking.
We ate at Sunday lunchtime. The restaurant was busy with a mixed crowd of yummy mummy-ish couples alongside families. This is not an intimidating dining room and there was a nice chatty atmosphere. The restaurant manager is one of the best in Cheltenham: friendly, helpful but not obsequious.
Bread (£2) at White Spoon is baked in plant pots, is topped with fennel seeds, and served with salted or smoked butter. A starter of Szechuan spiced duck dumplings (£8.50) was served with a fragrant consommé and sake jelly. The balance was perfect: a delightful savoury dish with just enough acidity to refresh. Scallops (£9.50) with black and white pudding were slightly less convincing, although it was great to see them sourcing exceptional black pudding from Ireland. It’s refreshing for a restaurant to recognise that just because it’s local, doesn’t mean it’s great and to look further afield when necessary.
Sunday Lunch at White Spoon
The roast beef (£16.50) was a perfect medium rare, with a cracking Yorkshire pudding. Potatoes left a lot to be desired, and although the vegetables were all delicious, just a little more would have been appreciated. Roast pork (£15.50 ) was slightly anaemic; only a niggle really; it would have benefited from a little caramelisation. The quality of the ingredients came through, however. These were tasty dishes and the chef is clearly sourcing well.
Chilean Pinot Noir ticked all the right boxes, and represented good value on the fairly short wine list.
Puddings were exceptional. A chocolate fondant with milk ice cream was pure pleasure, while their white chocolate and rhubarb dish stole the show. Rosemary ice cream with blood orange curd and vanilla sponge was lighter but equally lovely. This chef knows how to make ice cream! All three had the perfect texture and great depth of flavour.
Any review of a restaurant based on Sunday lunch risks being slightly unfair. With the best will in the world main courses will be pretty standard. On a Sunday, it’s often the starters and pudding that give you a better indication of what the restaurant is really all about. And so it proved on our visit. Ultimately, The White Spoon delivers good food in a lovely setting. The focus on high quality ingredients sets it apart from much of the competition in Cheltenham. We look forward to going back for dinner. And would expect our food score to be upped from the evening menu.