WE’RE on our way down to see our son in Warwick. We’re staying here overnight,” said a couple sitting in earshot of our table, relaxing post-meal in the restaurant’s comfortable lounge area.
“Where are you from then?” said one of two female friends.
“Yorkshire. We usually find an excuse to come here once a year,” replied the couple.
When I tell you they were sitting post meal in the ever so relaxing environs of the Three Choirs Vineyard Restaurant, near Newent, and if you know your geography of the UK, it will be apparent just how far out of their way they were happy to travel to reach their favourite restaurant.
Neither of the ladies batted an eyelid. It all made perfect sense to them.
“We come here as often as we can,” they remarked. “We’ve been hoping to get snowed in this winter, so we can stay over too – but it’s hasn’t happened. Yet.”
I had been wanting to visit here for a while, but feared it not quite living up to the high expectations I had for some reason developed for the place.
Perhaps it was because every time I had driven past I had always noticed the beautifully-kept vineyards. From those vines Three Choirs produces some of England’s finest wine. Perhaps that very thought had put me in awe. Wine can have that effect.
Certainly I feared my hopes would come crashing down as soon as I left the charming court yard entrance and stepped through the restaurant doors.
It was a cool, clear evening with bright skies and diners seated two to tables which would take four at a push, transfixed by the quintessentially English scenery through the brace of French doors.
Soft music played in the background. We enjoyed a glass of Three Choirs’ own May Hill wine (£5 for 125ml) as we relaxed in the lounge area before being guided to our table. A bowl of bread was offered – beautiful, chewy, homemade-tasting chunks and complementary tumbler of soup. I had feared – again I don’t know why – something pretentious. Nothing of the sort.
Starters arrived – baked Camembert with honey and rosemary, molten yellow inside its white jacket (£15). We shared it, failing to convince ourselves we really didn’t need to finish it even after the tomato chutney and hot toast had gone. It was delicious.
My seabass, dauphinoise potatoes and watercress (£19.50) was really very good, if perhaps a little salty. I really didn’t mind.
My partner’s venison – her first time – delightful. With buttered celeriac, onion marmalade, red wine reduction (£18.50).
The simply-delivered menu was easy to navigate and delivered variety without any fancy culinary pomp or ceremony. Every glance up from the table drew eyes to the gentle view-to-die-for, across the tops of rolling Gloucestershire fields.
Coffee was served in the lounge area with a trio of complimentary petit fours. We drew it out as much as we could.
Sometimes the atmosphere of a place and the calm, efficient staff, works a magic which lifts your spirits and rests it gently down somewhere else, positive and at peace. Appetite satisfied, conversation unnecessary. If you wanted to risk topping that, you could always take a stroll among the vines.
Food: Simple and perfectly presented
Atmosphere: Relaxing and calm
Price: Starters around £5.75, mains from £15, desserts from £6.50
Service: Dedicated, attentive and observant