British, Modern Restaurants in Cheltenham
1. The Slaughters Manor House British, Modern restaurant in Lower Slaughter Copsehill Rd - GL54
Blessed with a picture-perfect village setting, this well-established hotel restaurant (nowadays under the Brownsword group) is a light, airy space whose fine dining food – afternoon tea to eight-course tasting menus – makes the most of local and foraged ingredients. It attracted limited feedback this year, but all positive.
2. Lumière British, Modern restaurant in Cheltenham Clarence Parade - GL50
“On our foodie tour of the area’s culinary heavy hitters (four in four nights) Lumière was by far the best in every way! – the food itself, the artistry and invention of the cooking, the front of house…!” Jon & Helen Howe’s small (just 24 covers) venture “benefits from a feeling of intimacy and calm” and scored the top ratings in town this year. Jon Howe’s food is “out of this world” with “some very good flavour combinations, some very clever and precise cooking” – all “without pretentious twiddles”. Dishes are delivered by the “serene and endlessly helpful Helen in charge of a small team” and “you are made to feel your dining experience is uppermost in their minds rather than your visit being an opportunity for them to ‘showcase’”. “We liked it so much that we went back to Cheltenham just to eat there again!” (STOP PRESS, the restaurant closed for eight weeks in summer 2019 after Jon Howe broke his ankle walking, but is now up and running again).
3. Le Champignon Sauvage British, Modern restaurant in Cheltenham 24-28 Suffolk Rd - GL50
“Shame on the inspector who was responsible for removing one of this outstanding restaurant’s stars” – fans are still scratching their heads about Michelin’s October 2018 decision to demote David & Helen Everitt-Matthias’s famous venue to a single gong. To be fair, the “somewhat suburban” décor has always grated with some diners here, as have odd incidents of “stuffy service”. And our own survey has seen a rise in minority reports of “well-cooked but unexceptional” cuisine (with a slight hit to its ratings as a result). And yet, for the most part, feedback on this “calm” and “low key” dining room just outside the city centre – where David is, famously, always at the stoves, with Helen front of house – remains a rhapsody of praise: “a one-off passion project from husband and wife team demonstrated in every superb and gimmick-free dish” – “a masterclass in ‘fine’ dining with very precise preparation, presentation and exciting flavours” that’s “expertly and efficiently run both front of house and in the kitchens”. (“It is the yardstick against which we measure everything else: we visit four or five times a year despite it being a six-hour round trip – it’s worth the price, and why they lost a star is a total mystery!”)
4. Purslane British, Modern restaurant in Cheltenham 16 Rodney Rd - GL50
“A real gem”, Gareth Fulford’s “friendly” backstreet outfit is “far better than the rather unprepossessing exterior suggests”, with “very well cooked fish” the star of a menu that’s “creative” – with “exquisite flavour combinations” – if a little too “cheffy” for some tastes. It took some flak for seeming “a little overpriced” this year, and an interior that’s “buzzy” and “very relaxing” to fans is, to sceptics, “dreary”.
5. The Ivy Montpellier Brasserie British, Modern restaurant in Cheltenham Rotunda Terrace, Montpellier Street - GL50
“The fabulous décor in this converted bank and former ballroom with a grand circular bar” is the prime selling point at this branch of Richard Caring’s national chain. Ratings have edged up in the last year, but the “lovely building” can’t mask the feeling that “the menu choices are more like a Café Rouge”, while “the food is OK, but doesn’t match the ambience”.
6. No 131 British, Modern restaurant in Cheltenham 131 Promenade - GL50
A “beautiful, stylish hotel and restaurant in a prime town-centre location” (the Prom), whose parent group ‘The Lucky Onion’, is run by Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton (who is set to open a sixth link – the 300-year-old The Crown pub, in Minchinhampton – in November 2019). On balance, reports are positive, but all come with a catch: “elegant, but ultimately style over substance…”, “well-prepared food, service can be haphazard…”, “everything was delicious (and priced accordingly!)…”
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