I’d been wanting to check out Cheltenham’s new burger restaurant since day 1 of the social media campaign for the launch. Then the photos followed from the bloggers lucky enough to get behind the scenes at the opening back in November. Lots of great reviews and feedback seemed to be backing up what I had hoped – that Holee Cow was going to live up to the hype. As you may know, Michael Raphel and Jay Ahmed, owners of award-winning local restaurants, Prithvi (one of my favourite Cheltenham restaurants) and Bhoomi, are behind the new venture. All I had to do now was to get myself over to Cheltenham so I could get my hands on one of their burgers! The opportunity arose when we spontaneously ended up staying in town, eating dinner at The Ivy Montpellier Brasserie, and we wanted to grab some lunch the next day before returning home.
The restaurant opens at midday daily and we were first through the doors on a Saturday lunchtime. We liked the feel of the restaurant compared to other similar gourmet burger places. Although it still had the trendy industrial style décor that most are going for these days, it was a little more grown up as well as being family friendly. Our drinks and food order was taken promptly, and the young waitress helped me with choosing which shake to go for as I couldn’t decide between them. Eventually I went with her favourite, the Cookies & Cream (£4.50). The shake was really good. As described by the waitress, it was super creamy with chunks of Oreo – a perfect hangover cure should you be needing one. It came in a metal cup to keep things cool and was too big for me to finish alone, but fortunately I had help.
We were seated next to the window of the kitchen and whilst we waited for our food, I couldn’t help notice a waitress standing behind the counter. She started to eat her lunch in plain sight of the customers, making no attempt to disguise what she was doing -licking her fingers after finishing the bag of crisps and then serving the food which was being cooked next to her to customers. It was quite off putting to see and I felt a little sorry for the other woman who seemed to be the manager and was trying her best to make sure all of the customers were happy.
The food arrived, thankfully served to us by our original waitress and we got started with the spicy cheesy fries topped with pickled Jalapeno (£4). Sadly neither of us were very keen on them, maybe we chose the wrong thing. We found them to be quite soggy and pale as if the oil hadn’t got hot enough and this could have been because we were there early. The fries were also very over seasoned with pepper to the point that I just couldn’t eat them. The macaroni cheese bites (£5) on the other hand were superbly crispy on the outside and oozy cheesy on the inside. In fact they were some of the best ones I’ve had.
I ordered the Holee Cow burger (£7), which on their website claims to be a locally sourced West Gloucestershire aged beef patty. Quality beef cooked well requires very little else inside the bun to make it awesome in my opinion, and this is why I went with this choice. ‘The Holee Cow’ comes with craft house cheese, lettuce, pickle relish and Holee Cow burger sauce.
It pains me to say it, but I was really quite underwhelmed with the burger in both appearance and taste. The patty wasn’t quite what I had expected, I think I’d hoped for something fatter and juicer maybe. Instead it was very thin and similar in colour and texture to some of the fast food outlets, rather than a more upmarket burger restaurant.
The other ingredients were all as described and of good quality, but I also didn’t enjoy the burger sauce, which tasted a bit odd to me. This is personal preference though, it just didn’t work for me. Just to be clear I did eat most of my burger (Mr R helped me with it), but it just wasn’t something I felt I’d want to go back for, which is a shame.
The Spicy Clucker (£8) was a different choice for Mr R as he would usually would go for a beef patty. The buttermilk marinated & dredged chicken breast was really succulent and the crispy coating was really tasty. I tried a bite and wished I’d ordered the same as it went really well with the buffalo hot sauce, blue cheese & celery slaw. It actually stood out as being something a bit different and a cut above their signature burger. Unfortunately as Mr R was part way through enjoying the chicken he found a bone inside, which he managed to catch before swallowing. It seemed unusual to find a bone in a chicken fillet, but he put it to one side and carried on. We did mention this to the server who we’d believed to be the manager, and she was extremely apologetic, and took the chicken burger off our bill. It seemed a little ironic in hindsight that it was the one we liked the best that ended up being reimbursed.
When looking back at our lunch at Holee Cow as a whole, I think it would be fair to say that our visit wasn’t as good as it could have been, but our experience may not be typical. It could be that this relatively new venture has now ironed out the initial issues. I hope so, as there can never be too many burger places in town!
Cost: £24 (food only) *Our Spicy Clucker burger was removed from the bill due to the bone that was found inside
2 sides, 2 burgers
Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom – last visited in January 2018
Food hygiene rating – 5/5 very good – date of last inspection unknown