Petits foursMore pictures
This year I’ve been rather a good one for me and restaurants. I’ve managed to eat at The Fat Duck as well as sample the delights at The Square, Gauthier and the rather short lived effort that was Roux at Parliament Square. Wanting to try and keep up these high standards when I was told about 2 Michelin starred eatery in Cheltenham, Le Champignon Sauvage I thought it was about time to sample good food outside of reaches of London during a weekend trip down there with my girl friend. How would a ‘small town’ heavy-weight compare to those in and around London?!
Even though the restaurant has been open for over 20 years (it first opened its doors in 1987) it still felt fresh and new. The husband and wife team have been there from day one and I didn’t get the impression that they plan on getting out anytime soon. While not quite the foody experience of The Fat Duck there was a feeling of familiarity between the two as both are set in former houses, have a living room feeling to their dining rooms and neither go into the business of over-booking or turning tables at the detriment of their diners enjoyment.
We ate there for Saturday lunch and I was again a little disappointed not to have the option of a tasting menu; I hope restaurants are not trying to get all health conscious on us. This aside the a la carte was full of goodies. After a bit of a think (and some champagne) we went for starters of native lobster and beef tartar with a homemade corned beef, mains of plate of pig (loin, cheek and head terrine) and loin of lamb, lambs sweetbread with warm lettuce and desserts of vanilla cheesecake, chocolate sorbet and bergamot parfait with basil ice-cream and if you thought that sounded like a lot of food you would be correct. Unfortunately we also decided to go for a cheese course and finished things off with coffee and petits fours. Both of these were lovely additions but the generosity of both; 6 pieces of cheese each and a selection of 10 petit fours ensured that we left a good 2 hours later feeling that we didn’t need to eat again for the rest of the weekend!
A big reason for this gluttony was the sheer quality of the offerings. There was some real skill on display and some of the additional touches added to each dish (beef and wasabi for one) were inspired. David the chef clearly knows how to present a dish and it felt like they must have had a plate for each one in the kitchen as they were clearly picked to show off the food at it’s very best. The selection of cheese provided was incredible and whoever put it together chose expertly well from a huge range of what looked to be some of Frances best cheese offerings to give us 6 our choice of 6 each. While we’re on the subject of quality and generosity I must also mention the wine list from which I chose a bottle that after trying I panicked that I might have been given one 10 times the price I saw in the list. Thankfully I had not and out of curiosity I’d be interested in seeing how much a bottle of 2002 Les Pelerins De Lafon-Rochet goes for back in London.
As you may have already guessed I rated this place very highly both for the food and the experience. If this is what fine dining is like outside of London then I need to head out of the big smoke some more in the future!Tweet