I guarantee you if my mum reads this post, the first thing she’ll think is it should say ‘Mum and I’ not ‘Mum and Me’. But hopefully (argh don’t start a sentence with but), she’ll read on past that grammatical nuance and reminisce about an evening very well spent in a tiny Cotswold village called Asthall at The Maytime Inn.
Just a very short drive off the main drag from Cheltenham to Oxford (or London if you’re going a bit further), you’ll find this gorgeous spot for a drink, a meal, or even an overnight stay! I was invited out to test out what they had to offer, so Mum and I popped on a bit of lippy, sprayed a bit of perfume and set off for a food-filled evening.
Within five minutes, we knew the team on first-name terms and we felt right at home. They are an incredibly friendly and passionate bunch, but not only that – they’re all very young too (anyone younger than me counts as young by the way); even the owner is just 28 years old!
They’ve got everything spot on if you ask me (and Mum). They have seasonal and innovative dishes on their menu as well as the good old pub favourites like fish and chips (they looked so good, our heads turned as they came out the kitchen and went to a nearby table). They do craft beers, guest ales, bloody good cocktails, a damn fine wine list and – most importantly – 69 types of gin! Oh, and they also source locally where possible. They get their hands on the very best ingredients they can from the nearby area, and look a little further afield for other stuff. I was pleased to hear their wild boar (for their epic burgers) comes from the Forest of Dean.
So, I better tell you what took our fancy. For starters, Mum chose crispy duck egg with asparagus, chorizo and lovage. I went for the taste sensation that was Basil bavarois, tomato sorbet and parmesan crisp. Obviously we don’t have anything to compare them to, but I’m pretty sure we ordered the best two starters on the menu. Mine was simply divine. Every element was perfection; put them all together and you have a party in the mouth. I wish parmesan crisps were a thing - a proper thing - stored in foil bags and sold down the corner shop for a few pennies.
For mains, Mum had baked cod loin, smoked pancetta, braised fennel and cucumber with sourdough crumble. It really was quite a piece of fish and served on a bed of deliciousness, it was just missing a sauce of some sort – perhaps a balsamic reduction? I’ll let the chef experiment.
As for me, I went for the show-stopping rump of lamb with herb crust, glazed artichokes, confit tomatoes, parmentier potatoes & balsamic jus. At first glance, I thought the lamb was a little underdone for my liking, but I was wrong, it was beautifully tender and I ate every last bit. The glazed artichoke and the balsamic jus added a lovely sweetness to the dish and those slow-roasted tomatoes were summer on a plate. I’d have happily picked up the plate and licked it clean – but Mum would have slapped my wrists!
For dessert, Mum had her eyes set on the lemon tart with gin & tonic sorbet from the very beginning. It didn’t disappoint, she even drizzled a bit of my cream over the top for extra naughtiness. As for me, I was torn between several of the desserts and got the waiter to choose for me in the end: Chocolate torte with strawberries and cream. I was told afterwards that mine was actually one of their gluten-free offerings – you really wouldn’t have known.
Mum finished off her meal with a pot of Earl Grey tea which is from local company Ue Coffee Roasters and I went for a Hendricks Cooler cocktail. That for me was proof that The Maytime Inn do everything well. Very well.