Prithvi

Indian food, but not as we know it. The unassuming and understated entrance to Prithvi leads you into a welcoming and convivial environment inhabited by swans of the hospitality industry. Unexpectedly small, but perfectly maximised like an Ikea showroom space, my first impressions leave me feeling relaxed and excited at the prospect of what’s to come.

prithvi

My wife and I are at Prithvi for the first time thanks to a kind invitation to sample their new Autumn menu at a VIP lunch. How cool is that.

I’m very quickly appreciating why this Cheltenham restaurant is listed as No.1 on TripAdvisor, regularly referenced by my friends and colleagues as their go-to venue for a special occasion, and the source of eternal consternation as it’s so hard to make a reservation within the same decade.

Jay is the main man – move over Fred of First Dates fame. What a wonderfully professional and thoughtful host. Service at its absolute best; I was tempted to get up from the table just to see how quickly one of the lovely staff would appear to refold my napkin. There’s a point at which this becomes OTT, but in the finest of establishments as I would regard this one, you don’t even notice their presence until you need them.

So let’s talk about the most important factor – the food.

This is like no Indian restaurant I’ve ever had the pleasure of dining at; they’re taking Indian cuisine to a new level. Exquisite, refined and elegant. I’m so pleased to see the team adapting their menu to the season and making the most of the wonderful ingredients in abundance at this time of year.

We started with an amuse-bouche of crispy curly kale on a rice cracker with mango – so simple, yet so perfectly balanced and delicious.

kale cracker and mangoNext was a panipuri to die for, devoured in one mouthful to avoid the tamarind reduction decorating my shirt. Heaven.

gorgeous panipuri at Prithvi

Next to the big guns. Tandoor baked salmon with beetroot, cucumber and mango. Taking my time and sampling just a sliver of beetroot with micro-herbs as my introduction to this plate took me to somewhere very special. The thoughtfully selected 2015 Charles Sparr Gewurztraminer from Alsace was an inspired choice that balanced the spice like only a semi-sweet white wine can, it’s viscosity culminating in smiles blossoming around the dining room. The fine, fine details that elevate their dishes is what puts them on the map.

tandoor salmon

Welsh lamb, couscous and legumes paired with a delightful glass of Carménère and then the hearty and seasonal venison with butternut squash, ginger and cinnamon reduction. Oh take me back already.

I’m not a dessert kind of customer; give me a tray of starters or a cheese board any day. However.. The plate of sunshine that arrived with the precision delivery we were becoming happily accustomed to, rapidly vanished, much to even my surprise. Passion fruit cream, mango gel, coriander and honey crumble.

Passion Fruit Cream, mango gel, coriander & honey crumble

Honestly, what is this place? I’m starting to question myself and I’m not quite sure of anything anymore. One thing’s clear, I’m smitten. I’m happy, satisfied and remarkably comfortable (unlike as I’m sure you’ll agree, every visit to a regular Indian restaurant).  I headed down the road happy as a proverbial pig in shit. The plates were relatively small, yet they cleverly combined into a neatly balanced meal that left me undeniably content, rather than a bulging and belching all the way home.

I can’t stop thinking about what Jay and his excellent team could accomplish in a slightly larger purpose-built space. I sincerely pray that Prithvi maintains its trajectory as I desperately scrimp and save for our next visit.

For more information, check out bit.ly/lunchwithprithvi

 

The White Spoon

Long past are the days when I’d pop out from the office to grab something to eat in my lunch break, but I distinctly remember the options, or lack thereof..

An overpriced, plastic-clad sandwich or unimaginative pub fayre, unless you’re willing to pay through the nose for restaurant cuisine of course.

Competition certainly seems to be hotting up with so many new restaurants opening in Cheltenham this year; those looking to stand out are raising their game and bringing a new level of quality dining at an affordable price.

The White Spoon, tucked away on Well Walk, is offering lunchtime diners two courses in rather splendid yet welcoming surroundings, for as little as £12. Their set menu is written weekly, and makes the most of the freshest local and seasonal ingredients.

Chris White and Purdey Spooner clearly project their own style and friendly ethos to make this a relaxed and comfortable restaurant, supported by their attentive staff who I found to be particularly well-versed in every aspect of the menu.

Highlights for me? Dreamily transformative Applewood Smoked Butter, wonderfully fresh and respectfully handled shelled broad beans, and mashed potato the likes of which I’ve never experienced before: so light and airy you’d swear it was crafted from Altocumulus clouds by nimble-fingered angels.

Dreamy mashed potato

Pork Chop on Broad beans

I’m looking forward to exploring what their evening menu has to offer.

 

The White Spoon

8 Well Walk, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 3JX

01242 228 555

dine@thewhitespoon.co.uk 

http://www.thewhitespoon.co.uk/  

 

SandBar Tenby

Down an alley on Upper Frog Street, neatly tucked away in what reminds me of a trendy converted London mews, is the home of the Tenby Brewing Company and their relaxed, rather funky little SandBar.

This very pleasing oasis away from the buckets and spades of the town only serves products from independent producers – craft beer and spirits from across Wales and the UK. Good on you lads!

Keg beers

It’s really promising to see new ventures like this appearing in the harbour town of Tenby. The combination of quality craft beers and classic streetfood-styled cuisine has been an astronomical success on the East Coast of America, and I see the scene having an equally meteoric growth in the UK as well.

No fuss, reasonably-priced fare that hits the spot with big flavours, and puts a smile all over your face and cheese in your lap. (Hashtag: Please eat responsibly).. I’m on holiday, it’s allowed.

“We’re going to need a bigger boat…”

The Awesome Footlong

Fear not vegetarians, their ever-improving kitchen caters for you too – surprisingly delicious Katsu curry that rivals Wagamama on flavour and texture, flows effortlessly from the kitchen.

Sandbar Tenby Katsu Curry

The highlight for me? Flights. Probably the most generous beer sampling flights I’ve ever seen (please, please don’t change that!) Choose any 3 of their keg beers in ½ pint measures for just £5. As these are mostly punchy craft IPAs, the measures are perfect for sampling and sharing. Love what you’ve sampled; the bar has it’s own shop as well…

paddles

Yes, you still need a beer menu or at least tasting notes for your great range of beers guys, but you certainly get ‘two thumbs good’ from me.

More details at: http://www.tenbybrewingco.com

Stunning art at Sandbar

Battledown & Sibling

It’s time to revisit Battledown Brewery. This local family business is going from strength to strength, and recently relocated with Sibling Distillery from their cosy little Keynsham Street sheds, to a rather more serious facility in Dowdeswell Park.

The new space brings the opportunity to rethink, re-brand and relaunch, which is exactly what they’ve done. I had the pleasure of visiting the newly installed 13 hectolitre brewery and marvelling at what, without doubt, is going to be a gem in Cheltenham’s ever improving landscape. My good friend Simon and I took in the extremely welcoming atmosphere at their recent opening event, sampling their wares, listening to live music, and tucking into their signature ploughman’s spread. Bliss.

I’m pleased to say that guided brewery tours are still on the cards, and alongside the renowned Sibling Distillery, the potential is really exciting… I hear rumours that plans are afoot to open the brewery as a licensed venue on certain nights with local food trucks…

As always, Battledown provides online ‘order and pickup’ options and they’re always amenable to catering to customer needs wherever they can.

So there must be some negatives? ..yeah, it’s further to walk from town and there’s a lack of street lights out there – get a cab!

For more information, visit;

http://www.battledownbrewery.com

https://www.siblingdistillery.com

Battledown Brewery LLP
Dowdeswell Park,
London Road,
Cheltenham, GL52 6UT

Telephone: 01242693409 or 07734834104

Alex and Simon at Battledown Brewery

Tasty Tuesday

Wowzers Whole Foods.. you need to charge more. £5 for five tasty little dishes with wine is just crazy – no wonder your 100 tickets sell out so quickly.

Whole Foods Market Cheltenham put on a special evening event every second Tuesday of the month, where each department in the store competes against each other for your votes and team kudos.

£5! What a great idea. I love being able to get the low-down from the experts behind the counter whilst sampling what they’ve created from the surrounding shelves. The store is open at the same time (handy if it just happens to be Valentines Day and you’ve got to shoot home to make dinner for your loved one…).

whole foods market tasty tuesday

My vote went to the Meat and Fish gang for their sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce, roasted butternut squash, rocket and lambs lettuce.

sirloin steak with peppercorn sauce

Delicious. See you next month!