The best food and drink in the county of Gloucestershire

By Sue Kelso Ryan

Whichever part of the county you’re in and whether you’re looking for lunch, dinner or afternoon tea, there will be plenty of food and drink options to create marvellous memories of Gloucestershire.

Cheltenham town

Cheltenham has an array of quality restaurants offering many styles of cooking. Key among them is Purslane, which is just off the main shopping streets in a Regency building. Taking your seat in the intimate and relaxed dining room, you’ll be greeted by the friendly staff and the homely smell of fresh-baked bread with seaweed butter. The unpretentious dishes on offer are likely to include seafood and fish brought daily from Cornwall, as well as locally sourced meats, fresh produce and cheeses.

The Art Deco Daffodil restaurant in the Suffolks quarter is a former cinema, offering high-end dining, afternoon tea and classic cocktails in a unique setting. You might have seen Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock in the Daffodil during the popular TV series. A popular venue for Cheltenham Festivals events, the seasonally changing menu offers twice-baked double Gloucester soufflé, dukkah-crusted baked aubergine or Chateaubriand steak cooked over coal, perhaps followed by warm pear and almond tart and a glass of Sauternes dessert wine.

Such is the wealth of English tradition found in Gloucestershire that taking afternoon tea is a must. The Well Walk Tearoom is tucked away near the minster, where delicious cakes, scones and sandwiches are served on dainty, floral tea services by the friendly team. Unusually, most of the china and decorations are for sale. Another gem is Lumiere, a few steps from the Promenade, which has three AA rosettes and offers contemporary food including tasting menus, every dish of which is a complete delight. Owners Helen and chef Jon set out to create the restaurant they would love to dine in themselves, so you won’t be disappointed. Both venues are the perfect place to re-charge your batteries before plunging back into retail therapy in the Promenade’s exclusive shops.

Taking your seat in the intimate and relaxed dining room at Purslane, you’ll be greeted by the friendly staff and the homely smell of fresh-baked bread with seaweed butter

Pubs and cafes

The Bell at Sapperton is a real treat. Covered in red-leafed Virginia creeper in autumn, the pub has plenty of outdoor seating and is found alongside the canal, equidistant between Stroud and Cirencester. Their motto, ‘always fresh, always honest’ bodes well for good eating experiences and there’s a warm welcome from the staff, who are easily identified by their tan-coloured aprons.

The Inn at Fossebridge is located in the pretty hamlet of Fossebridge, where the Fosse Way drops into the Cotswolds valley of the River Coln, an area of outstanding natural beauty. The pub is in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide 2020 and in the summer you can enjoy al fresco dining in the pub’s four acres of riverside gardens.

English Breakfast

There’s nothing like a full cooked breakfast to start the day

Located in Gloucester’s historic docks, the Barge Restaurant serves delicious English food, including Sunday roasts and all-day breakfasts. It welcomes children and is unlicensed but there’s no corkage charge if you bring your own. A hit for its relaxed atmosphere and good service.

Café René is housed in a medieval building in one of Gloucester’s oldest streets; it has wooden beams and there’s even a well indoors. Reasons to visit include sumptuous summer barbecues in the beer garden, music nights in the cellar bar and offers like ‘burger and a pint for £10’ on Mondays. They say: ‘We do not serve fast food; we serve good food as fast as we can’. They also serve pirates and zombies during charity events, but that’s another story…

On the water

There’s nothing like a day on the river to work up an appetite. Whether you choose to hire a motor boat or put some muscle into rowing along the Thames at Lechlade, you’ll be in need of sustenance. The Swan at nearby Southrop serves lunch and dinner, the menu driven by produce from their kitchen garden. Start with hedgerow berry fizz, perhaps Ropsley pheasant and lentils next and follow with sticky toffee pudding or black fig Queen of Puddings, before British cheeses and port. It’s associated with the Thyme cookery school, where you can learn to use the best of British ingredients to maximum effect.


Make sure you seek out a delicious dessert before you go home

The Old Passage at Arlingham is famous for its Cornish lobsters and oysters but visit for breakfast (booking essential) and you’re in for a treat. Smoked haddock and chive soufflé omelette, pain perdu with roasted strawberries and honey or a full English – you can’t go wrong. Or push the boat out (pun intended) with champagne and lobster. Plan ahead and book a Bore Breakfast and witness the natural phenomenon of the Severn bore tidal wave racing upriver, while enjoying a delicious meal.

There’s nothing like a day on the river to work up an appetite. Whether you choose to hire a motor boat or put some muscle into rowing along the Thames at Lechlade, you’ll be in need of sustenance

Real gems

“It’s bonkers, but it works!” was the verdict of Michel Roux Jr when he visited Kathryn Minchew at her Gloucester studio. Kathryn is known as the Pyromaniac Chef and, as the nickname suggests, has an obsessive desire to set fire to things. She’s a former Masterchef semi-finalist and her studio has been called ‘the hottest restaurant in town’. Guests sit in the ‘hygge hut’ on reindeer skins around a fire pit and enjoy a ‘sensory escape’ as she provides a unique culinary experience, cooking beef rib steaks in the flames, blending subtle flavours and unusual ingredients. You can book a private meal or arrange a cookery lesson.

Plate of Indian food at the Prithvi restaurant in the county of Gloucestershire

Try some delicious Indian dishes at Prithvi

Temple Guiting Pantry is a true Cotswold star found between Stow-on-the-Wold and Cheltenham. The beautifully styled restaurant is full of character and is set over two floors within the village’s old post office. Using some of the best Cotswold produce, the restaurant serves breakfast, lunch (including a delicious Sunday lunch) and afternoon tea. Food can be enjoyed by the cosy fireside or in the sunny patio garden and quench your thirst with a great choice of luxury loose leaf teas, barista coffee, artisan soft drinks, ales, wines and local gin.

The award-winning Prithvi is named after mother earth and aims to elevate the Indian classics to create a sublime dining experience. Artistically presented dishes at this Bath Road restaurant include salmon with white wine vinegar jus, mustard and coconut milk; paneer, asparagus curry and veal, crushed black pepper, wild mushroom. This is one occasion when Instagramming your plate is forgiven.

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Image credits: ©Buffetcrush/Pixabay; Prithvi; Purslane Restaurant; Melissa Walker Horn/Unsplash;; Wheatman Photography/Lumiere

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