Cheltenham is welcoming quite a few new eating establishments at the moment; and among them is The White Spoon on Well Walk. They themselves, say they offer an alternative to traditional fine dining by delivering the foodie experience with attentive service, but in an approachable and relaxed environment, one where true foodies or casual diners feel comfortable. Well, as a casual diner/wannabe foodie, I can speak from both of those camps, and I think they’ve got it spot on.
So for the foodies out there, the chef is Chris White - a protégé of Heston Blumenthal – who has worked at and led kitchens in a number of great places, including The Fat Duck and The Hinds Head in Bray. For the casual diners reading this, you’ll be interested to know that this is Chris’s first independent venture at the tender age of just 28…I’ll repeat – 28!
Chris’s style is all about showcasing ingredients and the various ways they can be prepared and cooked, but of course, there’s the odd hint of Heston’s experimental flare thrown in for good measure too.
The décor at The White Spoon is sleek and unfussy, and the tables are made with reclaimed scaffold boards; if I had a Mary Poppins handbag, I’d have happily taken one home with me!
Andy, the brother of Chris, looked after us for lunch, and it has to be said, the pair of them make for a brilliant, friendly, hard-working and talented team.
So…what did we order?
We started with the Plant Pot Bread served with two butters: Salted and Applewood Smoked. The bread is cooked fresh to order and served, as the name suggests, in a plant pot. I assumed the Salted Butter would be my favourite, but actually, I enjoyed both of them so much that I couldn’t decide between the two and developed my very own butter by spreading both onto the bread at once to create a Salty Applewood Smoked Butter. That was my experiment for the day and it was one that certainly paid off!
To start, Kingsley had Crab Tortellini, Shellfish Bisque, Lime, Borage and Brandy Jellies. As you know, I’m not one for seafood, but I did try the bisque which was pleasantly sweet and those brandy jellies brought the magic to the dish. I ordered Goats Milk Custard, Goats Curd, Beets, Scorched Carrot and Cob Nuts. I’d heard previously this was one of their signature dishes so it would have been rude not to try it. Every element on that dish was scrum-diddly-umptious with the more subtle tastes of the custard and beets complementing that of the curd. The beetroot crisp shards finished it off perfectly.
For mains, Kingsley had Kelmscott Pork Belly, Wild Sea Bass, Smoked Potato Gnocchi, Butternut and Salsa Verdi. Pork and Sea bass wasn’t a combination we had come across before, but it was genius - it was like a bloody good surf ‘n’ turf. The whole dish was really light and fresh, and my personal favourite part was the Smoked Potato Gnocchi.
But, it was me that ordered the showstopper. I had the Blackened Gloucester Beef, Potato Terrine, Pan Roasted Carrot, King Oyster Mushroom and Onion. The beef is seared with a blowtorch and then cooked sous-vide (this style of cooking is explained more in this blog post here). It was the BEST beef I have ever had the pleasure of eating: It was cooked medium-rare, and I was really pleased I went against my usual preference of medium, it was seasoned perfectly and the sous-vide style of cooking ensured a really tender meat. Kingsley kept asking why my eyes were rolling to the back of my head whilst eating this dish; doesn’t everyone do that when they’re really enjoying their food? Oh, just me then.
For dessert, Kingsley ordered Toffee, Pear & Rum Bavarois, Walnut Crumble and Crème Fraiche Ice Cream. He loved the ice cream, so flavoursome – he said. And as for me, I went for the chocolate on chocolate option – just because: Dark Chocolate Souffle, Chocolate Doughnut, Pistachio Ice Cream and Raspberry. Again, the ice cream stood out and went deliciously well with the soufflé and doughnut.
All three courses were washed down with a Picpoul de Pinot, a recommendation from Andy, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
A birdy tells me they are already fully-booked for the races this weekend, so it’s obviously going to be a very popular spot. Hurry up, book in and I hope you enjoy as much as we did.