Review: Montpellier Cafe, Cheltenham

It took us a while to find our local restaurant in Cheltenham. We certainly spent our first year roaming around trying everything; the overpriced but unique Daffodil, the un-ironically retro Number Seven, the decently Swedish Svea, the zut-alors-tres-French L’Artisan, and a bunch more. We may live ten minutes walk from the 2 Michelin star Champignon Sauvage but popping down there every week or two would have a horrible effect on the arteries and waistline!

Proper fish and chips, Montpellier Cafe

Proper fish and chips, Montpellier Cafe

The trouble was, our favourite local restaurant hadn’t opened then. In fact the Montpellier Cafe only opened a few months ago, but we’re now pretty much regulars for brunch, dinner and the occasional cake. I can’t link you – they haven’t troubled themselves with a website, which is a shame because a clean and uncluttered site to match their smart grey-wood-red-white decor would certainly pull in a few punters.

Please, don’t go expecting fine dining miracles. Focus on the fact that main courses in the evening are seldom more than a tenner, and Sunday brunch is a ridiculous £6.50. Ssssh… don’t tell them… but they could charge a couple of quid more for everything on the menu and it would still be good value! Whoever the chef is in the kitchen, he or she just knows how to turn out a well seasoned, balanced, delicious plate of food.

Burger time at Montpellier

Burger time at Montpellier

Brunch first. They knock up a nice eggs benedict, with a properly tangy hollandaise. In spite of that, my order is usually the vegetarian breakfast with a side of black pudding. If that sounds contradictory, it’s because (a) I don’t need all the meat involved in sausage, bacon and black pud, and (b) the veggie breakfast comes with a helping of smashing bubble-and-squeak with just the right amount of leftover brassicas in with the potato and all blackened in places from frying. Mmmmm. The butter-roasted mushrooms are good too.

On to dinner. Well, I can talk to you about a beautifully char-grilled tuna steak, served with fresh asparagus and a jolly punchy sauce vierge. Or a really scrunchy-perfect pub style fish and chips, with creamy/tangy tartare sauce and “mushy peas” made with fresh peas instead – a much lovelier flavour, to my mind. On another occasion we tried their burger; good brioche bun, nicely crunchy skin-on fries, juicy meat cooked pink and flavoured with flames. I had a great piece of swordfish, cooked perfectly, on an artichoke and red pepper salad.

That's how to cook tuna

That’s how to cook tuna

So, yeah, don’t expect anything new and unexpected on the menu. But do expect it to taste great. They’ve chosen their wines and beers well too – the list is small and of course good value. If you live in Cheltenham, pop in. And if you’re visiting Cheltenham for a slap-up meal at the Champ. Sauvage, you know where Sunday brunch oughta be!

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