We arrived in Cirencester late afternoon on Saturday after our morning mooch around Stow-on-the-Wold, and a yummy brunch / lunch stop at The Old Stocks Inn. Stalls on the Farmers Market were still open, so we had a chance to browse before checking into our home for the night at The Kings Head Hotel. The reason for choosing to stay in Cirencester, apart from to have a look around the market town, was to revisit The Village Pub, Barnsley, which is located just a few miles outside of the town itself. For the past few years my parents and I have met up with a relative there just before Christmas for Sunday lunch. It’s a favourite for me, so I really wanted to take Mr R for dinner as I knew he’d enjoy the cosy log fire and great food.
The Village pub is a traditional style Cotswolds pub and retreat, and just so happens to be another one of our Autumn tour eateries to have a main entry in the Waitrose Good Food Guide. Hearing the news ahead of our visit that new a head chef had been appointed, I could only hope that the standard of the food in the AA rosette awarded restaurant was going to live up to those of our annual family get together.
Our hotel organised a taxi for us and we arrived just before our 7pm booking. There was a short queue out of the door as other guests were checking in at the bar and being taken to their seats. I explained to Mr R that it’s been as busy every time I’ve been before, so it seemed to be a good sign. At our table we ordered some pre-dinner drinks, my pink Autumn fizz a complete surprise as our waiter wasn’t sure what was in it. We later discovered the mix was rhubarb and ginger gin with cranberry and topped up with prosecco, which I’d highly recommend as it was delicious. With our Bloody Mary and pink fizz we enjoyed some rarebit bites to nibble on – these are a must by the way, if I hadn’t already glanced at the menu I would have ordered several more rounds of them.
Thinking I should probably order light for my starter as the Calcot beef burger was on still on the menu, and it’s one of the best restaurant burgers I’ve had, I went with the garlic & parsley prawns from the specials menu. Mr R had my other choice of Portland crab salad (both £9 each), which was perfect as we could have a little taste of each. When the starters arrived we were able to have far more than a taste as there was plenty to go around. We certainly weren’t complaining as you can never have enough prawns and these were fantastic. I’m not necessarily a quantity over quality person when it comes to my food, but on this occasion I found myself presented with both and so gluttony kicked in. The Portland crab salad came as a terrine of apple, pickled cucumber combined with a herb mayonnaise. The dish looked fresh and clean to the eye and lived up to it’s description in appearance and flavour.
Mr R made a very wise choice with his main course of roasted venison haunch. This was a superbly Autumnal pick, served up with braised potatoes, cavalo nero and a chestnut & celeriac puree (£17.50). As well as looking stunning on the plate, it was a hearty and flavoursome meal, which my lovely fiancé was very happy with. The Colcot burger (£16.50) looked different from how I’d remembered and I feared it wasn’t going to live up to those I’d eaten here in the past. Fear not though as once I got stuck in, the thick beef patty was as juicy and tasty as its predecessors. The only difference really being that the bun was more of a standard burger bun rather than the soft, seed covered bap that is still shown on their website. The bacon jam was still very much there though – oh the bacon jam!
You sure got a lot of beef for your buck and as much as The Village Pub’s burger is still a triumph, I struggled to finish all of the hand cut chips. I think if I’d sat there a while longer I could have given it another go, but in the end we decided to retire to the cosy seating area next to the bar and enjoy our bottle of wine, and maybe another glass afterwards whilst we awaited our carriage back to the hotel. Sadly this time, pudding wasn’t an option for us, but that’s ok because we’ll definitely be back. Did someone say sticky toffee pudding?
Cost: £56 (food only)
Nibbles, 2 starters, 2 main courses
Cirencester, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom – last visited in October 2017
Food Hygiene rating – 5/5 very good – last inspected 9th March 2017