The urban-dwelling SoGlos team sought out a taste of the country at The New Inn Restaurant in the Cotswolds, with the seasonal game proving more than worth a shot.
Relieved to have finally arrived at our table for two after the winding rural drive from Cheltenham, The New Inn Restaurant at Coln St Aldwyns was instantaneously relaxing. A log burner gently crackled at one end of the intimate restaurant area, warming the handful of diners in attendance, with low beamed ceilings and atmospheric lighting creating a charming country pub setting.
The service was an instant hit too, with our well-informed waiter more than happy to share his impressive knowledge of the seasonal menu – regaling us with stories about the New Inn’s popularity with local shooting parties, and pitching in with recommendations from the restaurant’s very own dedicated game menu.
Fully embracing the rural setting, my main course of pan-roasted pheasant supreme, braised red cabbage, fondant potato, pancetta and chestnut sauce proved the highlight of the evening. Sourced locally – and marked with a ‘please be aware may contain lead shot’ on the menu – it was the freshest, and finest, game dish I had tasted in a long time. Rich, flavoursome and moist, the additional side order of steaming hot, crunchy vegetables proved a necessary, and satisfying, addition.
Another carnivorous treat was enjoyed on the other side of the table – this time in the form of slow braised pork belly, glazed with sticky honey, infused with five spice and swimming in a red wine jus. Presented with precision, it not only looked good on the plate, but was a playful taste combination with the initial spice punch giving way to sweet, delicate meat. While it could have benefitted from a little more cooking and a crunchier top layer, it was nonetheless a good quality dish – with the curly scratching playfully balanced on top adding texture.
The evening had started with chicken liver parfait, thyme and truffle butter, toasted brioche and shallot marmalade for me – which was an exceedingly rich and delicious treat – benefiting from a smooth, melt-in-the-mouth texture. The starter of flavoursome home-cured slivers of gravalax accompanied by a punchy dill dressing and potato salad proved a moreishly good representation of the traditional Swedish dish, if a little too vinegary.
Last but by no means least; the evening was completed with a silky luxurious chocolate fondant, which packed a rich cocoa punch, alongside a sadly all-too-subtle white chocolate and chilli sorbet. My light Bramley apple pannacotta, meanwhile, was a delicate delight, served with a subtly-spiced cinnamon ice-cream and a talking-point caramel miniature crab apple – held by its stork and devoured in one like a cocktail cherry.
Sourcing its produce locally, with Cirencester butcher Chesterton Farm, Broadway dairy DC Inges and local game shoots being included in the list of suppliers, SoGlos.com’s late winter dining experience at The New Inn Restaurant exuded freshness and quality throughout. While a few minor improvements could be made here and there, every dish had clearly been carefully crafted and prepared with expert skill by head chef Oliver Addis.
Prices are a little on the high side and those with a hearty appetite may want to plump for the more filling choices, but this a destination countryside retreat which lives up to its reputation, and is well worth the visit for a true taste of the Cotswolds.
By James Fyrne
Monday 12 April 2010
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