The Sunday lunch you’re looking for
Ah, the unplanned Sunday lunch! An opportunity to spend the morning phoning all the best local pubs and restaurants to the resounding reply of “sorry, we’re fully booked!” Or perhaps to live even more dangerously and drive out into the countryside? Stopping at all the good looking country pubs to be told “sorry, we’ve got no tables left.” The thrill of finally finding somewhere at around 2pm, only to walk in and discover that in fact all of their tables are empty. Oh dear lord what is the beef going to be like? Exciting times.
So I was a bit worried when the Wild Garlic in Nailsworth admitted to being able to seat four at 12:30. Perhaps even more worried to walk in and find only a couple of other tables occupied. And now, with lunch on the inside, I’m frankly baffled; because if any restaurant deserves to be full to bursting on a Sunday lunchtime it’s this one.
Mackerel with style
The dining room at Wild Garlic is a bit of a surprise. From the outside you’re expecting either rustic Cotswold dining-pub or chic modern bistro, but they’ve wobbled a bit in between and, if I’m honest, ended up with a look that I might call “1990s small town bistro”. Luckily I’m here to tell you that the service will be friendly and helpful and the food will be awesome, so don’t worry about the look.
We started with a mackerel tartare, beautiful slivers of pinkish fish served with a sharply citric “jam”, capers, samphire, a dribbling of coal oil and some pretty well pickled shallot. The shallot was a tad over-the-top but the nice use of coal oil and the tangy jam worked a treat with the fish. Homemade hake bacalao croquettes with a startling orange aioli were very good too.
The roast beef was the dreamiest piece I’ve had melt in my mouth in a long time, beautifully full-flavoured too. Yorkshire pud was smack on, roast veg were excellent and the potatoes were spectacularly crunchy. So a brilliant roast. Just to be different, I actually had the veggie main course myself: salt-baked jersey royals, wild garlic marinated goat cheese, rainbow chard and a smoked aubergine puree. This was fundamentally and in all ways exactly my kind of thing and totally scrumptious. When potatoes are packed with this much flavour, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them being the star of the dish, and a well-tended goat cheese is absolute magic with a funky wild garlic flavour.
Potatoes for main
For pud I stuck with the smoky theme and had a pistachio mousse with spiced chocolate and smoked potato doughnuts. Magic little sugary/smoky doughnuts! Lovely spicy chocolate soup too. I guess the pistachio mousse was a little drowned out, but I’m not minding. There was also a great big baked apple with a rosemary custard and hazelnut crumble, as delicious as it sounds, and a similarly good meringue and ice cream concoction that came with a little jug of the most wicked minted cream sauce. I could have just drunk it from the jug. Admittedly, eventually I did just that.
Saturday had been a boozy evening, so we had a bit of a tee-total Sunday lunch and luckily the Wild Garlic takes the trouble to put some decent soft drinks on the menu. If you dine out, three courses comes in around £35 and for the quality of the cooking that is absolutely top-notch value. I’m really pleased to have such a top restaurant only a few miles down the road, for food it beats the socks off of a lot of much prettier country gastropubs.
Smoked potato donuts