Visiting foodie friends overseas is such a joy and privilege, not only for a good catch up but sharing sumptuous bites and drinks is such a memory maker. Every time we visit our friends Charlie and Mike in Cirencester UK, they always introduce us to the latest food hot spots in their area.
Cirencester is a market town in east Gloucestershire, England, 93 miles west northwest of London. It can be reached by an express train in around an hour from Paddington Station. Popular attractions include the Parish Church of St. John Baptist, one of largest in England, Cirencester Park, weekend Antique market, and the world’s largest hedge. It’s also home to many shops, restaurants, pubs, and bars.
Picking the right restaurants is easy when you dine with locals, they know exactly where to go. During our stay, we were taken to our friends top 3 restaurants, which we truly enjoyed, so if you find yourself in town, and looking to have a breakfast, lunch or dinner, please consider the following;
4 Black Jack Street, Cirencester, GL7 2AA
T: 01285 657 698
This is a chain restaurant and they can be found all over the UK. Classic authentic French is the offering here. When we visited, the restaurant wasn’t that busy, mind you we arrived a little bit late for brekky. As we walked in, we were greeted by very enthusiastic floor staff. They let us choose our table and sometimes familiarity is a good thing because our friends got to choose their favourite spot.
The restaurant is modern yet with an old charm, comfy chairs and tables, spacious inside with a number of tables set outside for alfresco dining on those warm UK Summer evenings, also an area for smokers is also available. Soft down lights that perfectly illuminate the polished timber floors giving a nice ambience.
The Formule £10.50 is generous and good value, it comes with a fresh juice and a hot beverage plus a choice of cooked breakfast. We chose 4 x Formule, 2 x Full English Breakfast and 2 x Vegetarian. For me, I found the bacon was a little over cooked for my taste, however, I’m sure you can have it cooked to order, just like your egg choices. The elements of the vegetarian dish looked fresh and the hollandaise sauce had a bright, impressive and silky texture.
Service and Value:
Service with a smile and all food that we ordered were served in a timely manner. The breakfast menu consists of light, to a fully cooked English, breakfast cocktails and selection of hot and cold beverages and juices, all well priced. An additional 12.50% as gratuity is added to your bill.
The Designer Outlet Centre, Swindon, SN2 2DY
T: 01793 480 670
Carluccio’s is another Italian chain of restaurants and can be found all over the UK and overseas. Founded by the famous Italian celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio, since then it was bought by Landmark Group in 2010 (wikipedia).
The Swindon branch is a big space, airy and lots of natural light, big windows, and a perfect place for a refuel after a big spending spree at the Outlet. Very welcoming staff and as we walked in, the waitress greeted us with “Buongiorno” in a heavy accent which added the whole experience.
The menu is extensive with an emphasis to all that love Italian flavours. We started with a shared antipasti, Grandioso Board £16.95, a curated selection of cured meats with salads and olives as trimmings. For main, we had the following; Rich mushroom risoto £12.95, Slow cooked Lazagna Tradizionale £10.50, Flaked Italian tuna salad in light vinaigrette dressing £10.95, and Spaghetti Vongole £13.95, fresh clams with white wine, chilli and herbs. All dishes were moreish, generous servings and very filling.
To finished off, we shared 3 very tempting desserts that ticked off all the boxes, Panna Cotta £4.95, Meringa Al Frutto della Passione £5.25 and Tiramisu £5.95.
Service and Value:
The service was pretty much spot on from start to finish, even the manager came to our table to check out how we going with our food. They even showed us around the small deli counter where you can pick up Italian goodies to take home including a cookbook by Antonio Carluccio.
Value for money, this restaurant is mid range for UK standards but it’s worth every penny for a big fat Italian lunch. Apart from that, if you frequently eat at this place, you get a bottle of wine valued at £20, now thats not a bad deal.
1-3 Devizes Road Old Town, Swindon SN1 4BJ
T: 01793 488450
From France to Italy then comes Spanish cuisine at Los Gatos in Swindon to finish off a culinary day of a European food safari, without the hassle of airport security. Just don’t get caught out by Swindon’s magic roundabout!
It was a relatively busy night when we got there, despite it being mid-week and wet, the place was fully booked out. Our luck was really slim of getting a table as there were a few groups waiting ahead of us, again the local touch helped with the floor manager, in his heavy Spanish accent, making an area at the bar for us, in someways better than a table, as you become a part of the lively organised chaos that only this position can offer. The place was noisy, eclectic, and vibrant, typical characters of a tapas bar, we felt like we had been transported back to the heart of Las Ramblas in Barcelona.
We started with a jug of Sangria to wash our palate, followed by the Cervezas and Vino Tinto. Tapas food flowed to us from the busy kitchen, a mixture of everything from para picar (nibbles), pescados (seafood), carne (meat) and verduras (salads). We ended with a sweet note of postres (desserts).
Service and Value:
The menu is extensive for food, wine and beer, covering everyone’s expectation for a tapas bar. Every staff member from the bar to the floor were all very attentive, before we left, the floor manager handed us his business card and reminded us that it is best to make a booking next time we visit, and judging by the amount of customers, it is probably a wise thing to do, even if you just want to sit at the bar and eat like we did.
Price wise, food starts from £1.20 to £16 (mostly the paella mix), great value for a good night out. Los Gatos definitely deserves a visit, hands down!
If you know any restaurants that you could add to our top three, please add it to the comment box. Happy eating.
Vale: As of this writing it is sad to know that Italian celebrity chef Antonio Carluccio (founder of Carluccio’s) has passed away on the 8th of November at the age of 80.