Look. We are a wee town, Saxon origins, in the north Gloucestershire Cotswolds. Winchcombe is gorgeous. Don’t tell anyone, as we want to keep it that way! It feels more village in style, but we have a town hall, so we are a town. That’s it. Not number of inhabitants or churches (although you have to have a church too…and we have a few, and all very very welcoming, with really good choirs and supporters).
And we also have a large number of grand places to eat. Including a very new fish and chip shop. Great pubs with positively excited chefs and proprietors.
And a Michelin starred restaurant. Amazing and so exciting to be able to walk to this grand establishment, for my birthday lunch, mid June.
It is a lovely and intimate place. Tables that have had a lot of dinners enjoyed on them – they have the patina of positive use. Chairs are like you’d expect with that level of comfortable table…and the rest of the experience is just as huggable.
The photos are just a phone. So cannot really do the presentation justice. And as we have yet to perfect scratch and sniff on the computer screen (come on Apple – Microsoft is leaving you behind!) – you will miss out on the scents and sniffs and pre taste bud enticement that all great chefs seem to understand – and make happen all the time.
I want to describe just one part of the meal first. Something we hadn’t ordered. One of those Amuse Bouche things that just appear between your first amuse Bouche (squares of Welsh rarebit but with rhubarb below the cheese which was soufflé like). This was the coffee cup of leek and potato soup. OK, I know. So what? I will tell you what. Gus had added something I thought was alchemy. Chive oil. I realise chefs are already saying ” is that it?” Well yes, it was. It must be based on extra virgin olive oil. But whatever he does to the chives, they don’t die in vain. The liquid is bright emerald translucent and Jewel like. It maybe 5% of the volume! but adds 50% to the flavour. That’s what great touchy freely chefs seem to be able to do. Get foods and flavours to love each other and amplify each other. We had a reverential silence. And a thank you to chef. Wow. We had only just begun.
Gus does this fun bread thing – two bread cooked in one tin, on white one brown. All this means is that you get full excitingly quicker. Because they are impossible to resist. And as you have to mop up any excess of the soup, well, churlish to refuse the opportunity? But it comes with butter. And – oil and balsamic? No, nothing so effete ! Beef dripping! Like what your mum or granny said you had to eat in the war…but not at No.5…If no one told you, you wouldn’t guess the flavour. As I knew. I sort of guessed, but hey, it was so subtle and so lovely….
Have you worked out yet that we haven’t even got to starters? I have already died and gone to heaven, and now the food we ordered is about to arrive?
Only I dared to have even more courses. Chicken liver terrine. Just look and weep. Subtle and powerful and zingy in places and still loving the bread…
Now just admire the mains. I had Guinea Fowl. J had fish.
Doesn’t really do it justice does it…? OK – “Roasted cod, duck eggpasta, sweet and sour red pepper, braised lettuce, Samphire, pesto” And mine? “Pot roasted guinea fowl breast, Pomme Puree, Grilled Fig, Oyster Mushroom, Rainbow Carrot, Port Reduction”.
It still didn’t do it justice. Sorry team!
We finished with Caramelised grenadine Poached Pear and the cheese board between us. And ambled home very, very happy.