Carole Hamilton is filled with admiration for the stunning food that’s created in a very small Cheltenham kitchen by one of Britain’s great chefs
When a two-Michelin-starred chef offers to cook anything you like, ‘overwhelmed’ is an understatement. When our charming hostess Helen Everitt-Matthias quietly suggests that her husband David (left) is happy to indulge any Friday night cravings, my mind goes blank. But, having already inspected the menu, I’m more than happy with his carefully edited selection.
There’s nothing flashy here. The restaurant is small and, although the décor is a little dated, we’re here for the food, so the colour of the walls seems of little importance. I’ve been to enough pretentious establishments where the artwork is more interesting than what’s on the plate – this is definitely not the case at Le Champignon Sauvage.
David Everitt-Matthias has quite a reputation and is often described as ‘the chef’s chef’ with a legion of awards to his name. The restaurant is currently listed as one of Britain’s top 10, and, in 30 years of trade, David and his wife Helen have never missed a single service.David’s roots are firmly grounded in French cuisine, but he likes to add his own signature with interesting foraged ingredients he collects himself. The little stonecrop leaves are on the plate because they add something special, rather than to box-tick a trend. Our meal starts with a wonderful appetiser of parsley mousse topped with white onion and bacon. Who knew the humble herb could taste so good? Starters of scallops and maple glazed chicken wings with woodruff, and mackerel with Salcombe crab are both fine examples of David’s simple-but-somehow-complex creations. My main of beautifully cooked Brecon venison with walnut granola is delicious, but my husband’s miso-glazed cod with a wonderful geranium and coconut broth instils food envy – this dish is the star turn of the entire meal. To finish, I let David choose from the 30 cheeses on the groaning cheeseboard and enjoy half-a-dozen little morsels of heaven. My sweet-toothed husband raves about the blueberry cannelloni with wood sorrel cream – and continues to do so to anyone who’ll listen for pretty much the whole weekend.
This is one for the top of your foodie wish list. David has an inspired palate that combines ingredients to great effect. I’ve never thought ‘wow’ quite so many times during one meal. I loved it.
A la carte, three courses £67. Set dinner menu, three courses £34
24-28 Suffolk Road, Cheltenham GL50 2AQ, 01242 573449, lechampignonsauvage.co.uk