The Bell at Sapperton (Cirencester)

The bell at Sapperton

When the weather is pleasant I like to pop over to the Cotswolds and potter around, a la Bertie Wooster, being passed from country house to hotel to friends sofa. Well, the weather wasn’t overly nice and so I bunkered down in Cirencester for the duration.

Still working on the theory that it’s cheaper to eat out then to eat at home, especially when somebody else is paying for it, I accepted the parents offer and traveled out to The Bell at Sapperton, which is a long way down small country lanes. Easy to find, but impossible to leave.

Arriving, we squeezed the rental Passat into a small space between the shiny Range Rovers which filled the car park. Upon closer inspection, they were all from Kensington. I believe the Japanese have invented a spray for your car that imitates mud, I must investigate importing it to the UK, it should go down a bomb around here.

The Bell is run by Paul Davidson and Pat LeJeune, neither of whom were around. Pity, I wanted to congratulate them.

The décor is wonderful, it’s a fully outfitted traditional country pub frequented by the upper classes. A horse poll takes prominent position outside and I’m assured it’s not just for decorative use. There is a wonderful beer garden out the front, and the main pub is divided into many seperated room, each with only a few tables, each wonderfully decorated. I don’t know how many there are, I went through 6 before discovering even more upstairs. The very attentive staff helpfully provided me with a sketch map back to my table. During my voyage back, I discovered an important fact – if you surround a doorway with signs saying “Mind the Steps” and “Mind your Head” you can sit back and laugh as your clients hit their heads and then fall down the steps.

They have but a small selection of real ales (which I enjoy in the UK), but upon Mater requesting a glass of wine she was presented with a large menu of wines by the glass, including, naturally, champers, which, I notice, was more expensive then in some London playhouses. Still cheaper than Thornbury Castle, however. Still, 6.25 for a glass of Shiraz?

The menu is printed daily according to the latest and freshest ingredients to come in. I was still reeling from the foul lamb given to me by Monty’s Brassiere in the St George Hotel in Cheltenham, which I shall write up as soon as my tastebuds recover. Determined to recover the genuine taste of English lamb I decided to order in that fashion.

Mater had the soup, Pater the smoked salmon and I the asparagus (with venison and duck egg). All delicious. The bread served was likewise tasty, fresh and bouncy. It was also free. As I have said before, I couldn’t care less paying for extra bread, but don’t serve me bread and then charge me 1.50 like so many places do. It’s fraud, fraud I tell you and the mere sight of that on the bill is enough to send me into a quiver of fury.

Anyway… calming down…

I did have the lamb for the main course, although they didn’t have the advertised celeriac salad. They did, however, present a small and tasty mixture of fresh market vegetables. The lamb? Delicious, but… why cover it in a red wine reduction? Why do chefs in the UK always think that this improves the flavour? Decent, tasty meat needs no sauce to bring out the flavour. Serve it by itself and let the diner decide what to put on it.

However, the Sirloin Steak and Sea Trout were both fresh and soon vanished.

Moving onto the dessert, cheese and vintage port were served, along with a crème brulee that went down without complaint.

As an additional bonus, we made it home without getting lost or needing to top up the Passat. God job too, after leaving 142 quid at The Bell.

The Bell at Sapperton
Near Cirencester, Glos, UK.
01285 760 298
www.foodatthebell.co.uk

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