The luxurious crab rarebit was a first for us, but it certainly won’t be the last. The silky hot crab and cheese sauce blanket, wrapped our stomachs with the warming cuddles, they’d so craved after a blustery morning walk.
Friday night’s dinner at Purslane restaurant in Cheltenham, followed by wine at The Grape Escape Wine Bar, was a fantastic start to our Autumn food tour and short break. Although our trip had been carefully planned months in advance, I realised that we had time to stop on the way to our evening destination in Cirencester. A couple of days before setting off, I saw a tweet from The Old Stocks Inn, in Stow-on the-Wold, which reminded me that it was somewhere I’d been wanting to try, and an ideal place to stop mid-way between the two locations. Proof that social media really does work, the reminder was enough for me to get online and book us a table through the online booking system.
Brunch was scheduled for midday – perfect as we were super hungry by now, having skipped breakfast and were both feeling a little dehydrated from the night before. We headed out early to take a stroll through the Autumn leaves and explore the independent shops in Stow, before making our way to The Old Stocks Inn.
The façade of the building remains true to the 17th-century Cotswolds stone coaching Inn that it once was. Inside is a very spacious welcome area, bar and restaurant. Some of the original features have been restored to their former glory throughout, with vibrant teal furnishings against more neutral painted walls, bringing it up to date with an overall 21st century contemporary feel. A new modern British cuisine menu has been created by recently appointed head chef, Ian Percival; who loves to cook using British ingredients.
As we had arrived a little earlier than our booking and the restaurant was still being cleaned ready for the lunch service, we had an opportunity to relax in the bar, and snack on chilli puffs with some refreshing drinks. The service was friendly and relaxed and there were newspapers available to read while we waited.
The lunch menu begins with a selection of ‘light bites’; with choices including avocado on toasted sourdough, mushroom arancini, salmon crumpet, crab rarebit and chorizo hash. It was clear we had picked the ideal spot for our desired need of a good brunch. We could always come back for the Old Stocks Inn burger or the rib of Longhorn beef, right? Torn between 3 options, I had no idea what to do other than order everything. We were then told about the pizza oven, which is only in use during the summer months as it’s fired up in the garden. (£12 each or 2 for £15 between 3-6pm on Saturday and Sunday). Brunch or pizza…brunch or pizza….hmmmm….why not have both?
Mr R and I were able to easily agree on the avocado on toasted sourdough, with poached eggs and plum tomato dressing and the crab rarebit on toasted sourdough with Waldorf salad. We decided to share both of these followed by ‘The Old Stock’s pizza (mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, sweetcorn, red onion). Our brunch seemed to have developed into a brunch / lunch – after all, we had skipped breakfast and it was now gone noon.
We moved into the restaurant, which started to fill up around us, and just a short while later our colourful plates of avocado and crab arrived at the table. The luxurious crab rarebit was a first for us, but it certainly won’t be the last. The silky hot crab and cheese sauce blanket, wrapped our stomachs with the warming cuddles, they’d so craved after a blustery morning walk. The crunchy Waldorf salad was an excellent contrast in texture to the softness of the rarebit, making the dish an absolute triumph of a brunch.
As yummy as the rarebit was (and it really was), the favourite for Mr R and me was the avocado on toasted sourdough. This is my go to breakfast or brunch at the moment, and I think it’s a hard one to beat if using the freshest and best ingredients available. The eggs were of course cooked to perfection; the sourdough was crisp, the avocado ripe, and the sweet plum tomato dressing was an inspired addition to the classic avocado toast.
We still had room for The Old Stocks wood-fired pizza, which arrived at the table hot, crisp and delicious! The dough had an almost pastry texture, which was a definite thumbs up for Mr R, and probably the first time I’d seen him not leave his crusts 🙂 The pizza was fully loaded with fresh toppings and bubbling mozzarella. What else can I say? – Other than it was an excellent pizza, and one of the best homemade ones we’ve had this year in the UK.
Our stop off in Stow and our brunch / lunch at The Old Stocks Inn turned out to be a wise choice indeed. We jumped back into the car and headed onto our next Home for the night – The King’s Head in Cirencester, and with a few hours to digest our food before dinner at The Village Pub in Barnsley later that evening.
Cost: £31.80 (food only)
Nibbles, 2 light bites from the lunch menu, 1 pizza
Stow-on-the-Wold, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom – last visited in October 2017
Food Hygiene rating – 5/5 very good – last inspected 12th November 2016