You can ring my bell – Eight Bells Inn, Chipping Camden (Church St, GL55 6JG)

We walked into this cosy pub in the heart of beautiful Chipping Camden where a warm welcome was chirped from behind one of the six hand pumped beers.  I thought as we entered, we have stuck gold looking around this low-beamed bar complete with a roaring fire but best of all was the fabulous smell of something delicious being cooked in the kitchen.   On first impressions it seemed impossible to not love this  Cotswolds village inn; please don’t let the food change our first impressions.

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The Eight Bells was a welcome relief after only 50 yards from here we first stumbled into the Lygon Arms, which may be a popular Racing UK venue, but the menu and atmosphere was less than enticing.

We found a table and considered as we were dining at 8.00pm at Charingworth Manor later and it was already 2.00pm we order a lighter lunch of sandwiches, but could not resist a portion of their chips.  The decision to choose sandwiches was not an easy one whilst we watched our fellow diners tuck into a huge Lamb Shank and Hook Norton Beer Battered Cod but we stayed strong.

We ordered a couple of pints of the aforementioned Hooky from Hook Norton  the pubs most local brewery (about 20 miles east) and what a great pint of golden and maltyness. The pub is lovely and we pleased to have found a seat across from the a roaring fire.

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Perfect Pint of Hooky by Hook Norton

Did you know that Hook Norton still deliver to some local pubs by Shire Horse and Dray? If you in the area it would be worth checking the Hook Norton site to see if you can see these beautiful horses in action.

This inn was busy with a gentle hum which felt very calming or maybe it was the pint of Hooky giving the soothing effect – either way we had found a real gem in this corner of the Cotswolds which has a fabulous atmosphere.

Our lunches were served and both were presented neatly with no fuss or garnish on the plate. I’m never sure how I feel about a lack of green on a plate but in the interests of zero waste I trust the Chef to waste any leaves (I hasten to add you can top your order for an extra mix of salad and chips).    The chips were golden and tasty – crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

David loved the Brie and Bacon Ciabatta as it had a great balance of filling to bread and was oozing with hot creamy brie over thick slices of quality back bacon.  What was unexpected was the apple chutney which really added to the mixture and made this creamy, meaty sandwich a ten out of ten for him.

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Brie and bacon ciabatta

The rare roast-beef, was as ordered rare, all too frequently we are promised this but served overcooked but not today.  With lots of peppery rocket, and sweet and spicey horseraddish all in a crunchy ciabatta (did you know ciabatta was commercially only introduced to the UK in 1985 by M&S). This was looking good and it tasted good too but the beef was fighting for its place in the flavour race as it was quite thinly sliced. It was a real shame as they advertise the sandwiches as hearty.  On a positive the beef was tender and of good quality.  Just more slice of beef for the £7.95 would have seemed fairer and given a perfectly filled and balanced sandwich.

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Rare roast beef sandwich

The bill was just under £27 for the two of us before a tip so reasonable value. We really enjoyed our visit to the Eight Bells and next time we are going to Cheltenham we will definitely make a point of calling in and trying their main courses.  If we are organised enough (this pub has 6 gorgeous en-suite rooms which book fast) we would like to stay here so we can sample some more of their excellent kept beer.

So if you are a regular visitor to Cheltenham races I would recommend you put this lovely 17th century inn on your list of considerations, with its beautiful setting and 4 star rooms and a concise and varied menu that is reasonably priced oozes confidence .

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Thyme Bistro (Cannon Hall Barnsley); a refreshing change

Our first trip to the lovely Thyme Bistro at Cannon Hall was a refreshing change as so many times this type of venue with captive audiences fail; read more to find out why I rate Thyme Bistro.

We arrived about 1245 and were advised there was about a ten minute wait for a table and were shown to the patio area; where we enjoyed the views and perused the menu .

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We were seated close to the counter displaying their wonderful choice of sweet treats; which already had caught the Ord brothers eyes. The bistro has a lovely buzz and considering it is very child friendly you are not deafed by the excitement of little ones.  The bistro is clean, light and bright. The offer free WiFi throughout and a seperate dining area for those with dogs (clever idea).

Our waitress took the table’s order of five meals; two of which were specials and one kids meal and all choices were available.  Not long after two of the specials were removed from the blackboard (good to see this being updated for incoming diners).

Two of the five specials ran out by 1pm – this must be a good sign?

Our meals were served within 20 minutes and the first to arrive was David’s Battered Haddock which was setting the bar on  looks.  Served with hand cut chips and mushy peas (as sponsored by illy) and good portion of tartare sauce looked good value at £9.95.  The batter was golden and the fish was moist and flakey as were the chips which were superb; as good as you should expect in a gastro-pub. The only irritation was the peas in an espresso cup (nearly as annoying as slates instead of plates).

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My order of the Cajun Chicken Burger was topped with bacon, cheese served with and hand cut chips and corriander soured cream – an  impressive stack.  I would have removed the bacon to reduce the calories  but  it was encrusted in the cheddar which was in turn melted to the chicken so I enjoyed it in all its glory.  The chicken was moist, the only issue was it lacked spice this maybe due to the flavour being overpowered by the cheddar and bacon.  Yet again the chips were spot on just a shame the chose to serve a soggy and slightly rotting salad garnish.  If it was my choice I would have served the Cajun burger with less cheese and let the spices do the talking.

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A good choice of hot and cold drinks are available and for the real ale lover they offer,albeit bottled, Black Sheep.  I enjoyed a fantastic illy cappuccino.

Overall I think pricing is fair for the quality.  Service is with a smile although we did note some misunderstandings within the team and it would be interesting to see if they can handle the pressure on a sunny day when there are more dinners.  

My recommendations to the Thyme Bistro would be to lose serving peas in coffee cups, ensure your garnish is not decaying and be bold with your spices.

Overal I recommend you dine at Thyme. We will be returning for seconds and hope that next time it deserves full points.

 

If you’d like to read more of my food adventures you can follow me on Twitter @EatBakeBlogGB  or Instagram with my reviews published on TripAdvisor as Louise Winder.

Louise x
http://www.LouiseWinderFoodAndTravel.com

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