Hidden away in one of Cheltenham’s Regency terraces, Jon and Helen Howe’s smart little restaurant has been making big waves of late. The cream and white dining room may feel a tad formal, but Helen’s friendly, engaging service is refreshingly free from airs and graces. The food tells a similar story, with ambitious, whimsical ideas tempered by unfussy plating and high-spec produce – perhaps red mullet with razor clams, cockles and mussels on shredded fennel and saffron orzo or scallops with crispy pork belly, carrot purée and cumin caramel. There are some mischievous touches too – from witty palate cleansers to a cider brandy cheesecake in crisp sugar tuiles artfully arranged to mimic a seabed shipwreck. Prices are surprisingly modest, particularly at lunchtime, and there are plenty of possibilities on the approachable wine list.
This wine list is a great example of doing simple things well. It’s beautifully presented without being gimmicky, and impressively accurate and consistent. The wines are fairly priced and well-chosen for the clientele, with a good spread of prices.