PROUD to use local is the motto at The Boat House in Tewkesbury, and it’s one owners Mike and Wendy Wakeman take seriously.
Their mission is to support the town, back local businesses and at the same time provide a riverside haven where customers can enjoy freshly-cooked food.
They opened The Boat House last year, breathing new life into the building after it had been closed for 18 months.
It sits on King John’s Island, where the River Avon splits in two, giving wonderful waterside views from the first-floor restaurant.
There’s plenty of seating inside and an attractive terrace outside too.
They’ve made the most of the boating theme with a ship’s wheel, oars and old pictures of the river, all set against a pretty sage green and cream colour theme. There’s even sea kelp handwash and handcream in the loos.
Mike and Wendy have run The Gardeners Arms at Alderton for 10 years, so had plenty of experience to call on when they launched.
"It’s the most tranquil spot you’ll find and in summer it’s just fantastic," said Mike.
"We passionately believe Tewkesbury needs the investment and new blood coming in. There are a lot of little businesses that we like to support. It’s about supporting Tewkesbury."
The meat comes from Tirley, the fruit and veg from a Tewkesbury supplier and they spotted a range of fruit juices at the Food and Drink Festival last year.
With manager Saul Todd in charge, they’ve come up with a concept to suit all tastes.
There’s a carvery for £8.95, with a choice of meats. Or the grill where steaks are from £12.95 for a 6oz sirloin, rising to £20.95 for a 16oz T-bone. Other dishes include corn-fed chicken, £11.95, game sausages, £9.95, and lamb from nearby Hasfied, £13.95.
The third menu choice is the popular gourmet 8oz beefburgers. There are some enticing combinations, made to their own recipes.
The Espanola includes red pepper and goat’s cheese while the El Porto has chorizo, chilli and tomato salsa. Or there is The Clarkson, £12.95, a whopping combination of beef, Cajun chicken, cheese, relish and bacon.
To start we tried the king prawn and crayfish cocktail and the sticky chicken skewers, both £5. They were attractively served on oblong white platters – the chicken skewers had a tasty sauce and the prawns were a good size, arranged on a bed of salad with warm flatbreads, a change from brown bread.
For our mains, we chose The Gamekeeper, £10.95, an 8oz venison burger with camembert and chutney. Our other choice was the 6oz sirloin steak, £12.95.
The burger looked impressive served in rustic ciabatta with salad, fries and, because they had run out of coleslaw, pasta with red and green peppers instead. But no matter, the burger was delicious with a well-seasoned herby flavour – definitely one for big appetites.
The steak came with fries, mushrooms, tomato and salad. For another £2, I had added a brandy sauce in a pot on the side.
The steak was cooked as ordered and was tender without an ounce of waste. The sauce had a pleasant taste and the chips were thick cut and crispy. Not much wrong there.
Puds were a selection of favourites such as homemade crumble and treacle sponge.
We tried the lemon meringue pie, £4.85, with homemade lemon sauce. It came in a dish with some forest fruits and was the only disappointment – sharp lemon with sharp fruit, which didn’t really work. It needed more fluffy meringue to give it that sweetness.
Finally the drinks deserve a mention – not so much the wine, which was well priced, but unusually pear juice. It turned out to be from a Clive’s Fruit Farm at Upton-upon-Severn and it was absolutely delicious