At this Cotswolds setting, executive head chef David Kelman's inventive menu has a Welsh flavour. Janet Harmer went to visit
Today the hotel is operated by Michels & Taylor on behalf of owner Shetland Hotels. Overseeing the food and beverage operation is executive head chef David Kelman, who has been in situ since the hotel opened in 2011.
The three-AA-rosette Beaufort restaurant is the flagship outlet, where Kelman prepares the kind of food which captured the attention of the wider general public through his appearance on the 2014 series of BBC Two's Great British Menu. As the winner of the Welsh heat, he highlighted his background growing up in Llandudno and his seven-year stint working at the town's Bodysgallen Hall hotel.
While Kelman's cooking today frequently references his Welsh heritage, it is also just as likely to focus on the produce of the Cotswolds, having worked in the area for 11 years, initially in his first head chef position at Lower Slaughter Manor and then at Wyck Hill House in Stow-on-the-Wold.
Traditional breeds such as Longhorn beef and Gloucester Old Spot and Middle White pork, aged in a Himalayan salt chamber and supplied by Martin's Meats, near Winchombe, make frequent appearances on the menu. Meanwhile guinea fowl and poultry come from Walter Rose & Son in Devizes, Wiltshire, and fish is sourced via New Wave Seafood of nearby Fairford and Cornish-based Flying Fish.
Welsh spring lamb
Open for dinner throughout the week, as well as for Sunday lunch, the Beaufort offers an Á la carte menu at £45 for two courses, £55 for three and £65 for four. A choice of five dishes is available for both starters and main courses, alongside four desserts and a selection of 12 predominately local cheeses.
Flying off the spring menu is a starter of salt cured beef carpaccio, involving the immersion of Longhorn fillet in a cure that combines garlic, thyme, tarragon, chilli and orange zest with red wine. "The thinly sliced beef is served with charcoal mayonnaise, made using Cotswold Gold extra virgin cold pressed rapeseed oil which has been infused with charcoal, garlic and thyme," explains Kelman. Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar and mustard provide an additional kick to the emulsion, with pickled spring vegetables and bone marrow croutons completing the dish.
Moving onto main courses, steamed Cornish halibut is a popular choice. Lightly cooked for three minutes, the fish is served alongside gnocchi made from Jersey Royals, cipollini onions and girolles, with a sauce that combines the earthy taste of kombu seaweed and a hint of smokiness created by replacing a quarter of the butter content with smoked butter. To finish, the scrubbed skins of the Jersey Royals are fried and dehydrated to provide a crispy topping.
English asparagus, pea mousse, air-dried ham
It is no surprise that Welsh spring lamb, currently featuring a combination of loin and shoulder, is on the menu. "We roll the loin in lamb farce, then Parma ham and pig's caul, before gently cooking it in a water bath for around one hour," says Kelman. Just prior to service, the loin is pan-fried and served with a fritter made from the slowly braised shoulder, wild garlic potato purée, tomato fondue, young carrots, and thyme incorporating the lamb braising stock.
To finish, the dessert that always sells well is baked Alaska, which has become something of a signature dish for Kelman. "We flambé the dish at the table - guests love the theatre," he says. The content depends on what fruits are in season. Currently, a blood orange Alaska is flavoured with vanilla and poppy seed, with Chase Marmalade vodka providing the fuel for the flames.
Guests at the hotel enjoy the variety of being able to also eat in the all-day Brasserie, where sandwiches and sharing dishes are available alongside the South Coast crab and cod tian, chilli, bean shoot and spring onion salad (£7.50); and ham hock, wild garlic and pea macaroni glazed with a Welsh rarebit (£14.50).
From the menu
Two courses £45/three £55/four £65
- Cured sea trout, marinated baby cucumbers, grapefruit and tempura samphire
- Blow torched mackerel, heritage beetroot, fennel tops and blood orange dressing
- Welsh spring lamb, pea, broad bean, chargrilled leek, globe artichoke and braised shoulder fritter
- Feta and potato rosti, heritage tomatoes, courgette, peppers, roquette, red onion, cherry tomato dressing
- Hazelnut and Valrhona choclate delice, pistachio sponge, hazelnut ice-cream
- Toffee panna cotta, poached green apple, apple gel, green apple sorbet
Southam Road, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL52 3NJ
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