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Image 1: Cheltenham is a drive of a couple of hours or so from London. You wouldn’t guess it from this rather plain frontage, but this is one of the very few Michelin 2-star restaurant in England.
Image 3: Chef David has been running this place since 1987. We were greeted by his wife, Helen, who immediately made us welcome with...
Image 4: … a tray of warm Gruyère cheese puffs
Image 5: The dining room was quite small - in contrast to the large and delicious-sounding tasting menu!
Image 6: This started with a morocco spice lentil cream, topped with foam and almond shavings, which…
Image 7: …nicely cleansed our palates of the strong flavour from the cheese puffs.
Image 8: Throughout our meal, we were invited to try various kinds of bread. They were all good, but one in particular - the bacon-and-chive brioche - was just superb! Definitely the best savoury bread we had sampled.
Image 9: This starter consisted of quail quenelle, duck tartar, fig, and an interesting "jelly bean plant" from the Cornish coast. The touch of sweetness from the fig complemented the savouriness of the gamey meat. Wonderful!
Image 10: Perfectly seared scallops with pig's head confit and pear. At first, it seemed an odd combination of seafood and meat, but there was a surprise in store - the fruitiness from the crunchy pear actually tied them together beautifully! There’s a variation of this dish in his cookbook, though without the pig's head.
Image 11: Rabbit cannelloni, using turnip instead of pasta, and garnished with matchsticks of apple. The turnip gave good texture to the minced meat. Another brilliant dish!
Image 12: This is pan-fried fillet of Zander, resting on beef tripe and thinly sliced cauliflower, then finished off with a hibiscus velouté. Again, an unusual but excellent combination!
Image 13: Onto our main course: a generous cut of venison and minced chin, accompanied by liquorice decorated with Chinese greens. Perhaps we were getting a bit full by this point, as this course seemed rather monotone and strong for us. We found ourselves wishing that there was something to contrast with the intense flavour.
Image 14: After the previous course, we needed this! It was a pandan panna cotta, layered with Chinese rose jelly and topped with pandan foam. As you can see, David likes to use ingredients from across the continents. The result had a nice hint of oriental flavour!
Image 15: A now a very uplifting course – a unique wood sorrel ice cream and lemon meringue cake, with lime jelly. Fruity with a nice hint of herby fragrance carried through.
Image 16: We were completely full at this point… but there was still one course to go… chocolate olive tart and fennel ice cream with an olive brittle!
Image 17: Petits Fours
Image 18: They kindly packed them into a box for us as we really couldn't eat any more!
Image 19: Our conclusion? Simply a wonderful meal especially the bread! We rarely had a long tasting menu where every course was consistently. It wasn’t an extraordinary meal that I would travel back soon, but definitely a very satisfying meal. No wonder Chef David can keep his Michelin 2-star for so many years. We even purchased both copies of David's cookbooks!