Dining in a garden shed
Raymond Blanc’s latest addition to his White Brasserie Company chain, The King’s Arms in Prestbury opened its doors in December 2019 following a long and substantial renovation and is described as offering a British pub atmosphere with a ‘French brasserie twist’.
Thanks to both the famous chef’s name and the high level of local interest in the launch, we were keen to try out the new pub. After hearing about its new sheds, we wondered just how good could dinner in a shed be?
Seating up to six diners at a time, the garden sheds in The King’s Arms’ courtyard offer a quirky alternative to alfresco dining. As my partner and I stepped into our home for the evening, we were pleasantly surprised at the level of comfort the little wooden hut provided: with cushions and blankets aplenty, and even our own heat lamp to keep us cosy.
And while the setting was charming, the early-February weather wasn’t on our side and we had to ask to be ‘shut in’ from the outside with a plant pot to stop the door from banging open on one of the most blustery evenings of the year!
But away from the hubbub of the restaurant, our shed provided a more peaceful experience – great for a romantic meal out or private get-together. Looking out to the courtyard lit up with fairy lights, we both agreed the setting would be perfect for a summer’s evening meal.
Rich, inventive dishes packed full of flavour
Choosing from The King’s Arms’ winter menu, I opted for the Indian-spiced samosas, filled with spiced potatoes, cashew nuts, sultanas, peas and coriander. Beautifully presented with tamarind dipping sauce and coconut cashew cream, all of the flavours complemented each other well. The sweetness of the dipping sauce matched with the warmth of the samosas, while the cream balanced out the spices.
My partner went for the smoked pulled beef tortilla, noting that the chipotle and sesame dressing brought a sweet flavour to the smoky, tender beef, without overwhelming the dish.
I chose the grilled salmon fillet with tomato hollandaise for my main course. Opting for chips instead of salad – the diet starts Monday! – I went straight for the hollandaise, which was made with shallots, tarragon and tomato puree. Adding a punch of flavour to an otherwise quite minimalistic, but delightfully light dish.
Luckily for me, I also managed to grab a bite of my partner’s meal – duck leg confit with blackberries, dauphinoise potato and port and red wine sauce. The sweet blackberries matched with the rich sauce and the creamy potato was a tasty trio, while the duck melted away from the bone.
The quality of all of the dishes were exactly what you’d expect from an eatery proudly carrying the name of a famed chef like Raymond Blanc.
Decadent desserts we’ll be back for
Somehow finding room for dessert – how can anyone resist the sound of ‘chocolate indulgence’? – we opted for what were probably the two sweetest things on the menu.
My chocolate orange mousse was served in a cocktail glass, complete with chocolate flake, chocolate ice-cream and chocolate almond crumb. Need I say more? Definitely one for a sweet tooth like me.
My partner’s sticky toffee pudding was drizzled in toffee sauce and topped with a dark chocolate, almond and citrus crisp. The Normandy crème fraiche and crunchy nougatine balanced out the rich sauce, while the pudding was light and spongey.
Empty plates, full bellies and the inability to move for twenty minutes was evidence enough of a fantastic meal.
After its renovation last year, The King’s Arms has kept its welcoming charm. With the interiors designed by The White Brasserie Company’s head of design, Inge Watrobski, and the outside curated by renowned Cheltenham interior designer, Dee Campling, the overall atmosphere of the pub is relaxing and laid back, with a fine dining elegance. The interiors boast a lively bar, floral artwork and even a bookshelf wall, all working together to create the homely feel of a much-loved Cotswold pub. And where else can you dine in a shed?!
For more information see The King's Arms, or call The King’s Arms on (01242) 520012 to book a table.
By Amy Wright