[Cheltenham Spa, Gloucestershire] The Daffodil, John Gordon's
We had made the reservation to eat here and between then and our actual visit, they were announced as one of the few new additions to the 2012 Good Food Guide. (The British Larder in Suffolk, which we've been meaning to go to for a while was also added)
My wife and I shared the Discovery Menu which offers a choice of their Cote de Boeuf or the daily Fish selection. For appetizers, they deliver you a sampling of many of their current offerings.
First a mint and pea soup as a large amuse bouche. My wife and I in fact debated the meaning of amuse bouche since this was a small soup course in itself. Creamy, delicious, nonetheless.
For starters, we had the Chargrilled Scallops with butter and Salsa, the Double Gloucester Souffle, the Cured Smoked Beef and the Warm Aromatic Duck Salad. Of these, the Scallops were the most successful. The Scallops were tender and the salsa added a nice zing to them. The Souffle was well done but I dont find Gloucester to be an interesting cheese. It is a bit too heavy and I prefer more delicate cheeses. We were both a bit disappointed in the Duck Salad. Wonderfully tender duck but then the Hoi Sin dressing overwhelmed everything.
The Cote de Boeuf was 24 oz for us to share. Along with garlic mushrooms and truffles fries and bearnaise sauce and red wine jus - just an enormous amount of food. I cant fault the cut of the beef but we did ask for it medium-rare and what was served to us I would call medium. A few pieces were even slightly charred. Pieces in the center - which did escape the grill - were the best part of the serving. The mushrooms were limp and uninspiring but the truffle fries were tasty - crispy on the outside and tender inside.
We also sampled a few desserts. The Warm Chocolate Fondant was perfect. The Glazed Lemon Tart with raspberry compote was not well balanced - a sharp lemon taste cut by little sweetness or raspberry.
Overall, we left this place satisfied but not as impressed as we would have liked to be. We agreed that this is the type of place you'd love to have as your corner bistro. The food is warm, satisfying and prepared with superior ingredients. It still has some rough edges, though.
We decided to walk to the nearby John Gordon's for a couple shots of whisky. This is a great little bar with an array of 400 whiskies for you to sample as well as the usual armagnacs and calvados and an interesting selection of wine.
The staff are extremely helpful. With my wife gazing at the huge choice of whiskys, they asked her what she wanted. She said "Something sweet. And something exotic" So they suggested a Glenlivet with a sherry cask finish for the first requirement. And a single malt Yamazaki for the second criterion. A great end to the evening.
Oh, they appear to have informed the restaurants and others. And people blab.