We all hold a special place in our heart (as well as our bellies) for The Tavern in Cheltenham since the day it first opened its doors as the newest edition of The Lucky Onion group’s (a group of chefs, restaurateurs, hoteliers, designers, and artists) award-winning collection. Located between a taxi rank and the local chippy, it’s quirky character and buzzing vibe captured our souls from the get-go, whatever day of the week we just so happened to saunter in.
So, when disaster struck with a small kitchen fire and our beloved haunt had to shut its doors for refurbishment, it goes without saying that most of the Gloucestershire region were left in turmoil, myself included.
The obvious solution in times of crisis is to turn to a family member for moral support, which in this case saw the majority of The Tavern diners flock up the road to another The Lucky Onion venue 131 The Promenade. Here you’re still guaranteed to get your hands around a pint of Dunkertons and your lips around a fantastic steak, two of The Lucky Onion group’s most worthy credentials. However, when it was announced that The Tavern was back in action, it was welcomed by many and back down the road we marched. With an re-opening night that turned into a four-day affair and a waiting list that was as long as one of their famous mojitos, we saw few seats in the house left unoccupied.
Very little has changed down at one of our favourite locals. There’s still a good spot at the bar, whether you’re watching the barman shake up one their legendary Negroni’s, or spying up the chefs at their table as they cook up exciting combinations. The salt and pepper squid is still a worthy contender on the menu, you’ll be pleased to know, alongside the chicken wings, which come with three different sauces to choose from.
Yet, the Tavern wouldn’t be true to the name above the door without a touch of the American twang that forms a valuable part of the character we have come to know and love. They have really capatilised on what they do best; homemade, artisan burgers. Coming back with a bang, you won’t be disappointed by the new and exciting section of the menu dedicated to this guilty pleasure. Cooked up in eight different variations with an option to double up if you’re feeling brave enough and a variety of add-ons and sauces to make that naughtiness all the more decadent. Whether you’re a meat eater, poultry paramour, fish philanderer or wooer of vegetables, arriving at the table neatly wrapped in paper, you won’t be disappointed as you reveal the contents inside.
If we’ve learnt anything from the Americans, political opinions trumpeted to one side, no burger is complete without something equally as tasteful to wash it down with. To many, a beer and burger may seem like the ultimate combo, and although The Tavern offers a worthy choice, the selection of shakes on offer might make you think twice! The classics are all present and correct with a few signature additions to lay precedence to our friends across the water, hardened up with the option to ‘spike’ with a tipple or two back at the bar (the Cotswold Cream and Bullet Bourbon are both worthy of the cause).
If you like to save your sweets for last, the invitation to create your own ice cream dessert is any pudding fan’s idea of heaven. Your instructions are simple yet effective – ‘dream up and draw out how you would like your pudding to be created, fill in the menu below, tear off and hand over to a member of staff’ – now there’s an offer we will all find hard to turn down. Now here’s the tricky bit – choosing all your favourite ice creams, followed by delicious toppings and appealing selection of sauces. It was one of the hardest decisions to make choosing between salted caramel, pistachio, rum and raisin, and classic vanilla ice cream. Brownie pieces verses honeycomb; butterscotch sauce or raspberry (it would be rude not to have both…).
Suffice it to say, we welcome back The Tavern! Great burgers, healthy and filling contemporary salads and a naughty dessert selection at the right price. The kitchen is open till midnight and the bar till 2am so if you fancy late night munchies, you will be smiling from ear to ear!