Changing the perception of fine dining in Gloucestershire, The White Spoon restaurant in Cheltenham offered up phenomenal flavours, divine presentation and an informal atmosphere that left us utterly relaxed and eager to return.
Pulling out comfortable wooden chairs from underneath the distressed oak table tops, it was clear that The White Spoon would challenge our perceptions of what it means to be a fine dining establishment.
Without a white tablecloth in sight, sunlight streamed through the restaurant’s stunning feature window, reflecting on the crisp glassware and gorgeous weighted cutlery.
We were offered still or sparkling Voss water on arrival and were given time to peruse the extensive wine list. Opting for the Hazy View Chenin Blanc, we immediately relaxed into our surroundings and tucked into our appetiser of Plant Pot Bread, served with both salted and smoked butter. The latter provided a surprising amount of smoke and was delightful when combined with the Plant Pot Bread.
To begin we opted for Gin Cured Salmon served with Hung Yoghurt, Squid Ink and Dill (above); and Asparagus Soup with Ewes Curd Dumpling, Smoked Almond, Garlic and Lemon.
The flavour of the gin really cut through the salmon, making it especially fresh. Cooked to perfection and combined with the saltiness of the squid ink, my husband described his starter as a ‘taste of the seaside’ which was particularly refreshing during such warm weather.
My asparagus soup was brought out in two parts. First, a bowl featuring the ewes curd dumplings, almonds and asparagus, and a small jug containing the soup itself. This was poured over the vegetables by our server Fern, adding a charming sense of theatre to the meal.
The seasonal asparagus was a lovely treat; its bright green colour was broken up by the crunchy smoked almonds, and the added texture of the dumplings was a sensation I’ve not experienced in a soup before, but really enjoyed. The lemon flavouring then hit me from nowhere! It really lifted the meal, transforming it from a hearty soup into a much more summery dish.
Our main courses were Confit Hake, Chorizo, Fennel and Oyster Mushroom (above); and Yetminster Lamb, Aubergine, Onion Textures and Wild Garlic (below).
The hake was beautifully flaky and served with what my husband described as ‘the most delicious chorizo I’ve ever eaten.’ Which coming from a man who loves chorizo, is praise indeed.
The Yetminster Lamb was presented in two ways; sliced and in discs of pulled lamb shoulder. The shoulder fell apart when touched with my knife and melted in the mouth. I have never eaten such a tender cut of lamb, it was simply phenomenal. Combined with the onion, aubergine and sesame crisp, the dish provided a mix of textures and flavours which I didn’t want to end!
To end our afternoon of foodie delights, we enjoyed two of The White Spoon’s tempting desserts, the Saffron Crème Brûlée Tart with Rhubarb and Meringue; and the Flexi Chocolate Ganache with Pineapple, Yoghurt and Sorrel Ice.
Both desserts were heavenly. The Flexi Chocolate Ganache was a rich, soft chocolate ganache, delightfully balanced by the sorrel and sweet pineapple. My only complaint was that it was gone too soon!
As a couple with a young family, eating haute cuisine isn’t something we regularly find the time or budget to do. As such, the prospect of fine dining initially seemed somewhat intimidating. However, I needn’t have worried.
The atmosphere at The White Spoon was akin to being invited into a friend’s dining room; albeit a friend with a flare for food and an impeccable wine rack!
The restaurant’s relaxed vibe was also emanated through its staff; dressed in smart jeans and modern grey waistcoats, our waiting team was friendly, showed personality and enjoyed a joke with us, but remained professional throughout the meal.
The White spoon is the perfect destination for people who adore good food but find the pomp and ceremony of traditional fine dining establishments to be a deterrent.
If you want to experience a range of The White Spoon’s dishes, the restaurant offers a tasting menu. For £60 diners can enjoy Plant Pot Bread with Applewood Smoked Butter, followed by sample-sized versions of Mushroom Cappuccino with soused mackerel and goats cheese cannelloni; Rabbit and Pork Terrine with bacon popcorn, pickled prune and pistachio; Native Lobster with watermelon, avocado, and honey and mustard; Yetminster Lamb with aubergine, onion textures and wild garlic; and a selection of cheeses with apple chutney.
The tasting menu is then rounded off by The White Spoon’s signature gin and tonic, alongside Apricot Souffle with thyme ice cream. Finally, guests can enjoy coffee and petit fours.
You can even include a Wine Flight for an additional fee, which provides you with perfectly paired wines to accompany each dish featured in the tasting menu.
Tuesday 26 June 2018
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