For those that don’t already know, The White Spoon is the first independent venture from Chef Director Chris White and his partner Purdey Spooner (hence the name, The White Spoon). Still in his twenties, Chris has a fantastic chef pedigree -a protégé of Heston Blumenthal and former chef at The Fat Duck and The Hinds Head, this guy clearly knows his food and we couldn’t be happier that he has chosen to bring his own unique (read: delicious and unpretentious) menu to the foodies of Cheltenham and the Cotswolds.
Chris’s style is all about bringing local, seasonal ingredients to the table through a range of dishes which are primarily British in theme, with a few flavour influences from around the globe added for good measure. All the food served up by Chris is made in house, including the fantastic Applewood smoked butter (more on that later). In terms of ambience and atmosphere, The White Spoon is relaxed, welcoming and distinctly unpretentious, yet the interior oozes laid-back contemporary luxe-cool – think reclaimed wood, copper pipe wall lights, stone-effect tableware and a natural colour palette. In short, both the food and the restaurant itself exudes quality and taste.
Adam and I were warmly welcomed into the restaurant by Andy, Chris’s brother, who chatted away to us like we were old friends; I honestly cannot speak highly enough of his obvious enthusiasm for the restaurant and his ability to put his guests at ease. Andy talked us through the menu and left us to deliberate, returning shortly with a jug of cucumber water and a few helpful suggestions. Adam opted for a Cotswold Brewing Company lager, which was suitably light for a sunny Saturday lunchtime, and I had a glass of cranberry juice as I was nursing a bit of a headache.
So, what did we order? Well, as it was lunchtime we decided to try the set menu. First up, we chose to try the Plant Pot Bread which had caught my attention due to it being served with Applewood Smoked Butter. I love the taste of smoked food – it’s quite simply up there in my top five flavours, and was not disappointed. The butter, like everything else, is made in house and the taste was phenomenal, particularly when combined with the aniseed flavour from the fennel seeds atop the bread. The bread itself was a pleasure to eat; a golden crust revealed a light and fluffy inside which melted in the mouth. The bread was also served with salted butter, which Adam particularly liked. Even better, the bread was cut to reveal two butter-able sides which meant (as a self confessed butter-piglet) I could indulge my inner glutton on the smoked butter front.
I opted not to have a starter, but Adam chose the Cotswold Mozzarella and Tomato Tart with Balsamic. As soon as it came out, I instantly regretted not ordering one myself. It was so beautifully presented, with little cubes of balsamic jelly adorning the slate – I could feel my food envy beginning to rise. Fortunately for me, Adam was in a sharing mood and, sensing the green eyed monster in me, offered me a generous forkful of this tasty dish. What a good husband! The tart was possibly one of the finest things I have ever put in my mouth – crisp, flaky pastry, tangy tomato and soft, creamy Cotswold mozzarella with the sharp yet sweet balsamic jelly cutting through it all, without overpowering it. It was insanely good. I think I could eat several of these every day and not get bored (though my waistline might not thank me).
Moving on to the main event, I opted for the Leek and Cheddar Croquette with Choucroute and Celeriac, which combined the tastiest oozy cheddar with the softness of leek and the tang of mustard seed, all rolled up into the crispiest crumb case- it was heavenly. The addition of the lightly caramelised choucroute and celeriac gave the dish an extra bite – adding volume and a lighter taste to counter the croquette itself.
Adam opted for the Confit Pork Ravioli with Roasted Carrot and Bacon Foam; which tasted as good as it looked (I will forever be glad that Adam was happy to share throughout this meal, as I don’t think I could have coped not trying everything). The pasta was flavoursome and cooked to perfection; the pork melted in the mouth. Now, I’m not usually one for ‘foam’ on a dish, but I have to say, this particular bacon foam was really good and worked very well with the ravioli – it was a necessary part of the dish, not just a bit of ‘fluff’ for the sake of it. Adam thoroughly enjoyed it.
We both wanted to try the Passionfruit Cheesecake with Milk ice cream and homemade Honeycomb, and the Set Toffee Custard with Banana and Vanilla Ice Cream – so we did the only sensible thing and ordered both – swapping dishes halfway though. For me, the mark of a good dessert is not wanting it to end, and quite honestly I didn’t want either of these to. The passionfruit cheesecake combined the tartness of the passionfruit with a soft creamy filling, and when the honeycomb was added to the mix, created a tangy, sweet, soft yet sharp taste explosion – it was THAT good I don’t think I spoke to Adam once during desert, except to ask to swap halfway.
The set toffee custard was sweet without being sickly, the banana glazed with a thick caramelised toffee ‘glass’ – and the vanilla ice cream was fantastic – though I would have equally loved to have tried this with a salted vanilla to counter the sweetness of the toffee. Both deserts left us with big smiles on our faces, and to be honest, I couldn’t have picked a favourite if I tried.
We left with full bellies, contented and happy – not in any small part due to the fantastic service we had received from Andy and his team too. I spied the Sunday lunch menu as we left, which despite my full state, had me practically salivating. There is something incredibly special about The White Spoon. We will definitely be finding more space in our diaries to return very soon.