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The Norwood Arms - Leckhampton

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: September 26, 2008

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WHEN your favourite pub undergoes a re-fit, there's always the worry that it might not be the same afterwards. Changes introduced sometimes don’t go down well with the regulars that keep it ticking over.

And so it was with trepidation that I went for a meal at the Norwood Arms in Leckhampton Road, Cheltenham, after owner Greene King had carried out a major refurbishment. But following a £500,000 overhaul that saw the place shut down for six weeks, I need not have worried.

Yes it is different. Gone are the pool tables and the many televisions that were dotted around. New dark wooden chairs and tables have smartened up the eating areas and what was an overgrown area at the front has been transformed into an impressive outdoor patio. But the bar is in exactly the same place and the feel of the pub remains one that means you will feel comfortable popping in for a drink or arriving for a sit-down meal.

The key factor for my wife and I was that the thing that attracted us to the Norwood in the past had not changed. Crucially for us, the food was still as excellent as ever. Hot, fresh and plentiful and served up with a smile by landlords Pete and Diane Fryar. The couple manage to do so at reasonable prices which should keep customers coming through the door despite the credit crunch.

I began my meal with a beautifully tender duck starter that came with a side salad while my wife enjoyed her baked mushroom with goat's cheese. Having thought so much of the Norwood's burgers in the past, we both ordered the cheese and bacon burger for our main meal. Served in a white bun with garnish, tomato relish and mayonnaise, it came with hot chunky chips and a crunchy red onion coleslaw – delicious. My wife rounded off her meal with Belgian chocolate cheesecake while I chose a cheese platter that consisted of slices of cheddar, wedges of Camembert and a generous amount of Shropshire blue.

The Norwood is still a good drinking spot and Pete and Diane expect 60 per cent of their trade to be bar-related. But the couple - who ran The Bell at nearby Shurdington for 11 years - certainly know how to provide good food too. They're aiming at the middle market and, to my mind, they've hit the target bang on.

Robin Jenkins

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    farmer giles, cattlemans ranch.  |  October 16 2008, 7:34PM

    Veges should not be going out to eat anyway using fossil fuel to get there then having a nut cutlet what kind of rubbish is that. A good 20 ozs T bone steak is what you want Mrs put some hair on your chest. suppose your ant hunting aswell.!!!

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    blindmoose, Leckhampton  |  October 14 2008, 4:20PM

    I agree with much of what the reviewer has to say, the changes are subtle, and the patio area is a big improvement. However the choice of food for vegetarians is not as good as before. I too used to enjoy a Norwood burger in the past together with the hot chunky chips the reviewer mentions, but vegetarian burgers no longer appear to be on the menu. Nor are the Caerphilly sausages which we used to enjoy. In fact there are no vegetarian dishes with chips any longer, unless you count the sandwiches. The pies are a good idea but I recently tried one and it had obviously been heated in a microwave which ruined the texture of the short crust pastry, and the mash must have come out of a packet, making it a not particularly good value choice. And although the prices may be reasonable they are considerably higher than before which means that it is no longer an every day lunchtime venue. All this is not intended to be a whinge but constructive criticism and a plea to improve the choice for vegetarians.