It was a few weeks ago now that I recommended a trip up to Paxford to sample the new lunch menu at The Churchill Arms and what with holidays, house renovations, husband arrangements and feeling a little bit tired and queasy due to the newly announced Baby on the way, we have only just made it up there. It was worth the wait….read more to find out about our excellent meal at The Churchill Arms at Paxford….
As I mentioned in my last post, my sources are usually spot on when it comes to Cotswold dining and as this is one of the places that my husband and I once ‘courted’ on our Sunday afternoon jaunts around the Cotswolds, I was definitely overdue a visit. I was very much looking forward to seeing what the new owner had done to the place and what changes to the menu had been made since my last visit. On both food and decor, The Churchill Arms was even more inviting than on all previous occasions.
Since February, the relatively new Head Chef and Proprietor Nick Deverell-Smith has been at the helm of a Cotswold gem that has always had a great culinary reputation.
Nick himself has over 15 year’s experience working in award-winning restaurants across the country. After working locally at top restaurants like Simpsons in Kenilworth and Mallory Court and then in London under Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing, and most influentially Eric Chavot, The Churchill Arms’ menu shows his skill for creating fantastic dishes.Their food is all about clever twists on British classics, the future of British cooking, using three main sources all within 10 mile radius. The one exception though is their fish.
With the Cotswolds lack of coastline it comes up daily from Cornwall from Flying Fish, providing beautifully fresh fish that is responsibly sourced arriving from their boats on to our plates within 48 hours.
So back to our visit …we had booked for a late lunch so a 2pm table awaited us as we arrived in time for a quick drink outside in the lovely beer garden. I hadn’t been in the garden before and with its lovely views of the local Church it was a charming place to sit and choose from the intriguing and well thought out menu. Despite the attention of the dreaded wasp and the threat of rain I could have quite easily stayed there all day.
Having perused the mouth-watering menu for a few minutes we made our selection and were then surprised when a little ‘amuse bouche’ arrived courtesy of the kitchen.
Mine was a bowl of little ham croquettes made with a seafood stock, my husband who is more into fish than I am was served an espresso sized cup of lobster bisque. He wanted two. I wanted at least 3 of mine and it was a lovely little touch and just the right timing.
We had selected our meal from their Weekend menu but we were also offered a specials selection from the Churchill Classics, both equally tempting. My husband and I must be more similar than we thought as we keep choosing the same meals but this time, he was happy to swap in the name of blogging variation!
So to start he chose the Sweetcorn soup, tarragon cream and I got my way with the Chicken bollotine, gooseberry chutney, raisin bread both brilliantly priced at under £6 and £7 respectively, which I think is pretty decent for a starter these days!At this point, my husband seemed to disappear from conversation for about 10 minutes, interacting only when he actually had to let me try the ‘silence inducing soup’. In his words the soup was ‘simply incredible’. His only little niggle was that he would have liked to have seen the soup served with a good chunk of rustic bread but, when he asked Harry (the ever so polite and accommodating waiter) for just that, a gorgeous cheese bread was fetched at lightening speed and he was then even happier!
The bollotine was equally pleasing. A good portion size served attractively with ample gooseberry chutney and raisin bread. It was surprisingly light for a ‘terrine’ and just the right size for me. Again, this was a winner.
As our mains arrived we managed to grab a quick word with Nick himself, having a day off for his birthday. We wondered how much better the food could actually be with him in the kitchen when his team were clearly holding the fort so impressively !!!
For the main course, I had chosen the Pan fried pigeon breast, herb gnocchi, forest mushrooms – a mix of flavours which would be fairly new to me and so the anticipation was more exciting than usual. That mix of favours in this dish couldn’t have worked better and I couldn’t work out which was the best bit. Was it the brilliantly cooked pigeon which I had chosen medium rare (only for baby reasons) or the beautiful little parcels of herb melting gnocchi, or was it the forest mushroom…I’m still not sure but what I do know is that this was a magical dish.
Accompanied by reasonably priced side dishes at around £3 each, the creamed spinach was a great addition, I had chosen very well all around!
My husband’s main course was also excellent (obviously I had to taste this too) ..he had selected the locally sourced Burford chicken breast, truffle potato cake , girolles. Again another triumph for him meaning I was even more in danger of the prospect of losing my husband to this place, I’m surprised I managed to pull him away such was his delight at the meal. I think he’ll be needing a loyalty card.
A colourful and shining stack of raspberries piled onto a clean slice of Arctic role was the perfect end to a glorious gastronomic treat.
There’s a great wine list at The Churchill Arms so when this baby is out I know where I will be headed for my Rosé fix…..
Of course, you can stay here too..and it was oh so tempting to disappear into one of their bedrooms and have a nap after such a fine feast.
There was really nothing to fault here and I know its annoying reading something so ridiculously positive about a place but its true!! It was all REALLY great and hence The Churchill Arms has a resounding 5 stars from CotswoldCreate.
We will return for dinner very soon to see Nick and his very talented team at work producing quite simply the best food we have ever eaten in The Cotswolds. It doesn’t get much better than this and I am sure that if he were here today, Winston would have this place firmly jotted in his black book of dining establishments.
I predict it’s another cosy Winter destination for CotswoldCreate’s Sunday afternoons!
Do let me know if you visit and how you get on