Le Champignon Sauvage
PUBLISHED: 12:28 19 August 2015 | UPDATED: 14:51 19 August 2015
Le Champignon Sauvage is Gloucestershire’s only two Michelin star restaurant run by chef David Everitt-Matthias.
Le Champignon Sauvage is one of the most famous restaurants in Gloucestershire, so I’m not entirely sure why as a food lover I’ve never visited. Especially since the restaurant, which is located just a short walk from the centre of Cheltenham, is the only restaurant in Gloucestershire to have been awarded not one, but two Michelin stars.
Many people who are familiar with the Cotswold area still have no idea where Le Champignon Sauvage is actually located. Upon arriving at the front door you can see why – the unassuming building is easy to ignore, despite the signage across the front, so you could easily misplace the restaurant for another mid-terrace house. This trend continues as you enter the porch, where a large royal blue front door indicates nothing about the feast that waits inside.
The interior of the restaurant is not exactly what you’d expect for a Michelin starred establishment. A casual leather sofa sits in a small room just off the dining area where guests nibble on an array of appetisers, which during our visit included small bites of blue cheese sandwiched between parmesan biscuits; goat’s cheese covered in chorizo powder; bacon and shallot brioche; and cheese sables. As a lover of all cheese, it should come as no surprise that I particularly enjoyed the blue cheese biscuits and highly recommend stealing both of those if you’re sharing with a friend or partner. All in all a good start which whet our appetites as we browsed the a la carte menu.
It is clear from the unusual, and often rare, ingredients on the menu that Chef David Everitt-Matthias is passionate about foraging. But that’s not just what makes the head chef so special - in an age where people are regularly changing jobs, it is pretty hard to believe that David, who has run Le Champignon Sauvage with his wife Helen since 1987, has never missed a service in over 25 years. Instead when they are not around to manage the restaurant they simply close up the whole operation until they return.
Just as our stomachs were starting to protest to their torture, the starters arrived. A plate of dived scallops with charred little gem lettuce, peas and peanuts sat in front of me. Naturally the scallops were perfectly cooked and the crunch of the peanuts contrasted well to the softer textures of the dish, but I couldn’t help feeling like the dish was missing something – perhaps another sharper flavour against the softer, mellow flavours of the peas and lettuce.
The other choice, butter poached lobster, Jerusalem artichoke, pear and sorrel was as beautiful to the palette as it was to the eye and the lobster almost melt in the mouth.
The chef’s chosen entrée arrived next: ling poached in squid ink served with heritage tomatoes in a beautifully light and refreshing tomato consommé. Ling is a British member of the cod family and has a firm texture which held well with the sharper flavour of the tomatoes.
For the main course I opted for the megrim sole poached in beurre noisette, roasted cauliflower cream and cauliflower. I’d be lying if I said it was the prettiest plate of food that I’d ever eaten, but the fish was tender and the cauliflower cream was very unusual. Tasty, but I wasn’t singing out for a second portion.
Our other choice was the pave of Cotswold venison, which was served still pink and succulent and was accompanied by crunchy baby turnips and a smoky apple puree which offset the gamey flavour of the meat perfectly. The flavours tasted particularly autumnal and used ingredients that are very much in season at present.
I will confess that I do have a particularly sweet tooth, but nothing could have prepared me for the dessert. The chocolate delice, which with the milk ice cream, butterscotch and beurre noisette was one of the best chocolate puddings I have tasted and would say that it is without a doubt the must-eat dish if you are visiting Le Champignon Sauvage.
My choice of the Duck egg custard with rhubarb and hibiscus was also delicious But whilst the soft flavours of the custard melded well with the slightly sharper notes of the crunchy meringue and rhubarb, it was no match to the chocolate.
Which leads me to the final verdict on Le Champignon Sauvage. If you’re on the look out for a buzzing restaurant with stylish décor to have a drink and chat with friends over dinner, this is probably not it. But for those of you who are keen to explore new tastes, new ideas and new experiences, I would suggest that Le Champignon Sauvage takes its place on your go-to list. A three course meal comes to £63 in the evening, but if you can manage it, go at lunchtime or dinner from Tuesday to Thursday when a three course set menu comes in at just £32. Two Michelin stars for just over thirty quid - no one can sniff at that.