Over the past year, Cheltenham’s array of restaurants has boomed and it’s become a foodie paradise. I’ve always loved the vast amount of independent and small chains, but excitement has most certainly grown in the past few months. I just wanted to do a little round up of some of my favourites, and some yet to arrive…
I visited The Ox for the first time a couple of weeks ago with my family. My dad is one hard man to please, and the last time he came up dinner was a disaster so there was high expectations on this one. The Ox was incredible. I used to love Vanilla when it was there, but the changes they’ve made to the restaurant look awesome, and it is on a whole other level. There aren’t many great steak places in the area, and if you’re a meat lover this is definitely THE place to go. Quite pricey in general, but they have a fantastic early bird menu 5-7pm which is £15 for a glass of wine, rump steak and chips, and sauce. Well worth a visit… oh, and it’s quite possibly the best peppercorn sauce I’ve tried (and I’m a tough one to crack when it comes to peppercorn!)
This one is an interesting one.. I LOVE going here to drink, but haven’t been over-awed by their food. The venue itself feels different to most places in Cheltenham, it’s definitely got a London vibe to it, the cool city feel that most bars there have. They’re open pretty late for a bar/restaurant, an ideal place to head for a drink later on in the evening if you don’t want to go clubbing (and it’s perfectly on my route home!). The cocktails are awesome, and not too expensive. The food isn’t bad per se – it’s just a slightly different type of food that doesn’t necessarily work in Cheltenham. It has a BBQ / greek type feel to it, but I just think that it hasn’t found its niche. I wouldn’t not eat there, but equally I wouldn’t be in a rush to go back. Definitely check it out for a drink though! They do a bottomless brunch on Saturdays served 11am-4pm, where you can get food and unlimited prosecco or bellinis for 2 hours for £30-£35 (depending on how much you want to eat). This is a great idea if you fancy a spot of all day drinking, and is very London of them!
Wild Beer Co
It’s been a while since I’ve visited the Wild Beer Co, but on the few times I’ve visited I’ve really enjoyed it. Similarly to The Firestation, it’s got a city centre chic feel to it, but with an added country twist. They totally turned around the place which looks like a new building compared to its previous occupier – Coco The Beach, and there’s a great range of beers on offer if you’re into that kind of thing. It’s their first restaurant venture, a brewery who have been making beers for a while, and personally I think they’ve done a wonderful job. The food is great, and good value, and it’s a fabulous atmosphere. They regularly hold events including beer evenings, live music and boozy brunches which are worth checking out.
A relatively small chain, The Stable is quickly growing and gaining a reputation across the UK. They’re now in most big cities and towns in the South West, and along the South Coast, as well as London. So of course they were bound to open up a site in Cheltenham – which is quickly becoming one of the places to go for foodies. I love this place, although it does depend on when you go. And you simply have to be in the mood for pizza, pies and cider (let’s face it, at this time of year who isn’t?) They’ve done a few cool PR stunts, including giving away free pizza and cider for an evening which went down a treat. Personally, if I wanted a pizza I’d likely go elsewhere, but their pies are great, and you can’t beat the array of ciders on offer. I love the twist on the pies – they come with wedges and salad rather than mash and gravy, but I would LOVE to see mash and gravy as a side option on the menu (although the wedges are to die for). If you are a fan of live music they regularly have events over the weekend, but be warned it’s VERY loud and not ideal if you are simply going out for dinner. They have a good, valuable lunch menu too, and a chilled out atmosphere. I went to the one in Exeter at the weekend, and they’ve got it just right. It’s one of the newest places in their repertoire, but 2 floors like Cheltenham – the top floor is more of a bar/live music venue and downstairs is the restaurant. I’d really like to see that happening in Cheltenham.
Keep an eye out for my full review of this place, but it is incredible. D and I visted there a couple of weeks ago as a treat (it’s a little pricey), and personally I don’t understand why it’s taken this many years for there to be a restaurant in Montpellier gardens. The setting is beautiful, and they’ve taken full advantage by putting a lovely greenhouse in there. The food is top notch, with a fantastic British menu, smaller portions of great quality food. The staff are well trained, and the atmosphere certainly draws from the beautiful setting. A must if you are looking for a real treat for the night.
Brewhouse & Kitchen
Another place I’m a huge fan of, Brewhouse & Kitchen opened in Cheltenham earlier this year, and having already been to the one in Gloucester Quays I was excited. It’s a fantastic addition to the newly branded “The Brewery Quarter” and is a pathway to exciting new ventures to come. They’ve managed to get a prime spot, right by the main road where you can be tempted in from afar, and it brings in a new style of restaurant to the town, and most importantly The Brewery. I am so happy that if I’m popping to the cinema, or out for dinner there’s now a nice bar in that area that I can go for a drink. But the food is gastro-pub galore, and really good pub food. They do some great burgers, as well as an awesome whole chicken sharer. Roasts on a Sunday aren’t bad either. Great value, warm atmosphere (perfect for winter – there’s one table surrounding a fire pit) and they do some fantastic gifts including a beer tasting session, or even a whole day of brewing your own beer. Check out my review earlier on in the blog.
If desserts are what you’re after, Kaspas is the place to go. Situated opposite the bowling green, I feel they got it a little wrong with the location. Had they been in The Brewery Quarter outside the cinema they’d be booming, not that they’re not busy but I feel it could have been even better for them. Name a dessert you fancy, and the likelihood is they do it. And they are to die for. If you’re going after a meal, definitely share! If you just want a dessert, go the whole hog, and you will not be disappointed.
…And a few more (which I’ve not tried)
The White Spoon – boasting a fine dining experience with a relaxed atmosphere, this place has quickly gained a name for itself in the short time it’s been here
Bottle of Sauce – The Latest place to open in the St. James’ Square area, The Bottle of Sauce is a new gastro pub opening next week. I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to a preview of the menu tomorrow night, so look out for my review coming soon!
The Clarence Social – Opened just a few weeks ago in the old Gloucestershire Echo building, open 12pm-Late everyday there’s a huge variety of food and drink on offer. I’m hoping to go and try it out soon!
Cheltenham Whittle Taps – What used to be Slug and Lettuce is currently undergoing a much needed refurbishment. I can’t wait to see what they’ve done to the place and how the new bar/restaurant looks!
Monroes Cheltenham – Cheltenham’s first African restaurant opens its doors in Cheltenham in November on Albion Street.
Sup And Chow – I was invited to their opening party but sadly was away. What was previously The Brown Jug on Bath Road has got a new owner, and a new, young fresh vibe, somewhere on my list of haunts to visit.
Wagamama – After many people in Cheltenham asking after it for years, Wagamama is finally opening up a restaurant. Location and date TBC, although we’ve all seen the hoardings go up where The British Heart Foundation furniture shop used to be, and that’s where everyone is expecting it to go.
Cosy Club – Opening in the Brewery Quarter Spring 2017, I’m really excited about this one. Having been to a Cosy Club in both Cardiff and Exeter, I know people in Cheltenham are going to love it. It has a relaxed, cocktail bar atmosphere and a really great menu. Staff are attentive and friendly, and it will be a great place for friends, working away from home and nights out.
… And don’t forget
The Gianni & Charles takeaway both had a refurb following a fire earlier this year, and have reopened to a well deserved high demand.
The Tavern Reload happens this week (also due to a fire!), and despite the fact that it’s missing a lot of much loved favourites from the menu, once they bring the French Dip back in February I’ll be heading over there to try it out and see the new decor (I might pop in before then to see what all the fuss is about with these new burgers before then 🙂
Also part of The Lucky Onion Chain, Number 131 is having a huge extension, opening next year they will double in size, with 22 bedrooms instead of 11, and hopefully a bakery and florist.
So Cheltenham Foodies.. as you can see we’ve got A LOT to look forward to (and this is definitely not the last of them), and I simply can’t wait!