I have wanted to go to Le Champignon Sauvage for quite a while but never found a good reason to head towards Cheltenham for a visit. In March 2010 I have finally made it there during my gourmet tour round South-West England.
Le Champignon Sauvage is one of those restaurants that does not rely on the media for publicity. As far as I know, the chef, David Everitt-Matthias, has not appeared on television for promotion (and if he has, then he has only rarely been on) and he does work in the kitchen every day. So the restaurant really has to rely on the quality of the food to attract and retain customers. His wife, Helen, looks after the front of house service.
As we entered the restaurant, we were already warmly greeted by the staff. The bar area was relatively small, and so we decided to head straight to the table. The restaurant decor was simple and pleasing to the eyes – some of the bolder colours were dotted around the restaurant, and they were not intrusive. This was a good indication on the food – some bold uses of flavours but they worked well with all other ingredients that were pleasing to the palate.
For starter, I had roasted native lobster with miso glaze, risotto of oat groats, onion and orange, spiced bread – this was an outstanding dish, with the right amount of miso without overpowering the other delicate flavours. There was a generous amount of lobster, and the meat was moist and delicious.
Originally I was going to have “Fillet of cod, squid ink risotto, seared squid and belly pork” as the main course, but when I ordered this, Helen quickly pointed out that my starter was already a risotto-based dish, and I might want to consider something else because there’s risotto in my choice of main course and it might be a bit heavy. This was much appreciated – some restaurants would not have bothered pointing this out and I was just so impressed that Helen had this level of attention to details. So instead, I opted for the red-legged partridge, turnip choucroute, turnip and verjus puree. I was not a fan of partridge, turnip nor choucroute, but this was nicely cooked and well-presented.
For dessert, I chose the coconut macaroon, iced coconut milk and lotus seed ice-cream. I was expecting the dainty French macaroon for some reasons, but it turned out to be of the British kind. I usually can’t stand desicated coconuts, and the macaroon was full of the stuff, but I still managed to clear the whole plate. The sweetness of the coconut macaroon complimented well with the relative blandness of the ice-cream, but the textures worked well together also.
To round off an excellent meal, we were presented with a colourful plate of petit fours. We were so full that we could hardly finish all of them, but then it would be a crime to leave any on the plate!
On the whole, I was very impressed with this restaurant, with excellent food and flawless service. Certainly one I would be happy to go back to.
Address: 24-26 Suffolk Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2AQ, United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)1242 573449
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 12.30 – 1.15pm (last order: 1.30pm) ; 7.30 – 8.30pm (last order: 8.45pm)
Total: 18/20 [Based on visit in March 2010]