Dinner In The Cotswolds
September 4, 2015
As I mentioned earlier in the week we were in The Cotswolds this past weekend. I of course had done some research on spots to dine in a few of the different towns. The Wheatsheath Inn popped up as both a neat spot to stay and local, farm-to-table spot for dining. The others I’d found were a bit further away and after exploring all day we didn’t want to come home to change/freshen up and then get back on the road for another 30+ minute drive. So this one not only stood out from the beginning because of the food but also hit the distance criteria because upon searching I realized that it was located in the town due south of Bourton-on-the-Water called Northleach, a less than 10 minute drive.
We knew they didn’t have any reservations available until after 9:30pm so, after calling to make sure, decided that we should just take our chances and drive down anyway. Luckily we found more great British hospitality this night as they said they’d try to accommodate us. After waiting for a couple minutes they escorted us back. We walked through the main dining room/bar area upon entering the place and, while small, had a happening and lively atmosphere. We then came upon the large outdoor back patio area which was also packed and full of people even on a slightly cool evening. They had made up the bar for us in the back kitchen/bar area however we actually ended up with our own table in the same room as it was vacated earlier than expected. So we went from possibly not being able to get a seat anywhere in the restaurant to now having our own private room, things were again looking up!
We ordered some drinks, a couple of old-fashioned and a bourbon sour plus a local ale for me while we perused and drooled over the menu. We again went family style on the menu since we wanted a ton of the items and were blown away by literally everything we had. This is one that I highly recommend on a trip to anywhere in The Cotswolds since all the towns are close enough and this is literally in the dead center of the region.
We started off with 2, yes two, of the twice backed cheddar soufflés with spinach and grain mustard and they were absolutely to die for. Good thing we ordered 2 for each of the couples to split or there would be some fighting going on for the goodness in the pans. The soufflé was cooked to perfection the placed in a skillet pan on top of some wilted spinach and covered with some flavourful English cheddar cheese sauce with grain mustard added in to give it that perfect bit of kick. Then it was popped back into the oven to bake for a second time to not only warm it up but caramelise a bit of the cheese along the edges. Truly mouthwatering …
Next we got 3 entreés to split, all different but equally delicious. The first was the full size of the heritage tomato salad with buffalo mozzarella and basil … very good but pretty small for a full size but it was a blessing in disguise as it gave us room for dessert. There was a bit of balsamic drizzled on top for good measure and the mozzarella was nicely pulled and melt in your mouth. The charred Evesham sweetcorn and spring onion risotto with Berkswell cheese was incredibly tasty. The spring onions were quickly roasted on an open flame and it tasted and looked like the corn was done in the same manner then carefully cut off the cob. We even commented that we’re so used to mushroom or pea risotto with truffle oil in the states that we weren’t sure about this but it was a favourite at the table. Finally we got the special which was Dover sole with lemon, broccoli and almonds and french fried potatoes sticks. I always forget to ask whether it is a filet or a full, bone-in fish. It of course was the latter but after the first bite when I had to discard some bones, I realized it was cooked to perfection as the meat smoothly and easily slid off the skeleton of the fish and was absolutely delicious with the sides. The fish didn’t have a whiff of fishy smell or taste, the broccoli was not too hard or soft, the lemon and almonds added great flavour and texture to everything and the “french fries” were literally large chunks of potato fried up nicely.
Luckily we saved room for dessert where we decided we needed to order off the pudding menu and boy were we glad we pushed ourselves to the limit because, like the rest of the meal so far, they were spectacular. We narrowed our choices down to the carmelised bananas with toasted hazelnuts, spiced maple syrup and gingerbread ice cream and the sticky date pudding with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream. Naturally we got both and didn’t regret one bite of it.
Oh and the fresh mint tea was delightful (and massive) and the 3 hot chocolates with marshmallows for everyone else seemed to cap off the night on the highest note possible. The service was quite attentive for being in our own room but luckily it was because a bar and the kitchen was part of the room so we had a few people to flag down if we needed anything. I’m also pretty sure they didn’t need to do any dishes this evening because those plates left our table without a speck of food left on them. So if you find yourself in The Cotswolds make sure to grab a reservation for dinner at this centrally-located and lively spot for a wonderful meal, refined country atmosphere and down home service.