Newcomer to Cheltenham’s food scene, The Bottle of Sauce moved into the large town centre spot (formerly Quaich) on Ambrose Street just over a year ago. I didn’t really know much about the place apart from the buzz it seemed to have attracted from local food bloggers. Photos of amazing looking burgers and pizza kept popping up on my Twitter feed, so it kind of got added to the list. There’s quite a few burger restaurants I haven’t yet been to in Cheltenham, but an impromptu over night stay in town gave us the opportunity to take our pick.
On the outside of the building it looked to us just like any old boozer, and with a quick glance at the menu on the wall it appeared to be quite limited. We decided to go in any way to see what it was all about. As I said, we were staying and there was no driving on the agenda so we got started with a cocktail. Mr R’s ‘Blackbarry white’ (£7) was made up with gin, blackberries, lemon, soda top and I went with the ‘gin fix’ (£6.50) with elderflower, lime, mint, soda. The hilarious names gave us a chuckle and they were served up in handled beer glasses with all of the trimmings. Great price, great fun and great cocktails!
A table came available in the corner so we nabbed it as the pub quickly started getting busier and busier. A closer look at the menu and we realised that the food was going to be much more than your average pub grub burgers and pizzas. There were also wings, salads and sides to tempt you, all created with an array of interesting ingredients. Every Tuesday to Friday a selection of pizzas are on offer for a fiver each, and on Mondays it’s the same deal on 2 of their popular burgers (check out the menu here for details on which are included in the offer).
To try out as much of the menu as we could, sharing the truffle funghi pizza and the ‘Al Capone’ burger was a good starting point. We decided on the Buffalo bingo wings and cheese n’ truffle fries for the sides. I squeezed my way to the front of the bar to place our order and waited a moment whilst the busy bar staff were efficiently pulling pints for the lunch time drinkers who were pouring into the pub. Looking around I thought I’d be standing there all day, but a young woman clocked me holding the menu and got to me within a few minutes. I also mentioned that we’d sat at a dirty table and asked if someone could give it a wipe over and clear the glasses. After sitting back down, just minutes later the same server came back and cleaned it herself, she was basically Wonder Woman.
After 15 minutes, which again was quite prompt considering how packed the place was, our food was brought to the table and it looked incredible! We cut the burger in half first of all, exposing the pink and juicy centre. They let you order it pink here and we were so glad we did. The beef is ground and pressed in-house using dry-aged prime cuts. The ‘Al Capone’ comes with cheese, a spicy chilli ndjua relish, pickled red onions, lettuce, chipotle mayo and issqueezed together with a sesame brioche bun. I was blown away with how good the burger tasted. It was up there with some of my favourite burger places in the UK.
Burger demolished, we got on with slicing up the pizza, which had a thin and crispy base, just how they make them in Italy. The white pizza (tomato sauce-less) was topped with ricotta, fior di latte, basil, portabello mushrooms, truffle oil, parmesan. Fior di latte is similar to mozzarella and gave it a really creamy taste. Obviously the predominant flavour was of the nutty mushrooms and truffle oil which was heavenly. The sign of a good pizza is when Mr R eats all of the crusts, and he ate most of them. I dipped mine into the rich blue cheese dip that came with those hot, spicy and delicious Buffalo wings. I’ve spent much time in the States and the sauce on these wings was exactly how it tastes in New York where the Buffalo sauce was first created.
More truffle and cheese? Yes please! A pot of skinny fries with the skin on were covered in warm melted fontina cheese and finished with locally sourced Cotswold gold truffle oil. There are loads of great places to eat in Cheltenham, but amongst our favourites now is without question A Bottle of Sauce. The food, cocktails, staff and atmosphere were all outstanding. If you know of somewhere better then please tell me…it’s a tough one to beat on the burger front, that’s for sure.
Cost: £32.75 (food only)
1 burger, 1 pizza, 2 sides
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom – last visited in January 2018
Food hygiene rating – 5/5 very good – date of last inspection 9th November 2017