The Bell is situated on the edge of the picturesque Cotswold village of Stow – almost equidistant between Cheltenham and Oxford as the crow flies.
The occasion – a wine and game masterclass hosted by the award winning Blackmoor Game and Berkmann Wine Cellars, by whom we were warmly invited.
Now before we begin, It has to be said that I’ve had very few experiences eating game and although I’m always open to new experiences, I am also particularly squeamish – so when accepting the invite to visit the Bell, I did so with a degree of hesitation, and how wrong I was.
On a bitterly cold evening we were welcomed into this quaint yet sweeping establishment by Peter, the exuberant new manager. This hidden gem is an exquisite retreat from the winter weather, with a friendly and cosy atmosphere which exemplifies rural living.
Prior to the meal, we were privileged to see Chris from Blackmoor prepare his finest cuts of game which included wild venison, partridge and finally a deer – a true experience to witness, it was evident Chris was master of his trade however the opportunity was somewhat wasted on someone as squeamish as me. I peered behind the engrossed onlookers clutching a glass of Berkmanns Deakin Estate Brut Chardonnay which quite frankly I could have drank all night. Onto the meal…
Unfortunately, as mentioned before the publication of this blog to the owners and to Berkmann, our team has very little experience critiquing food – so as to not give a disservice, I’m simply going to list the audaciously simple menu and confirm the buoyancy of the locals’ feedback.
Please note: our orders were based on one person opting for the set menu and the other two choosing dishes that all three visitors would enjoy.
To accompany the beautifully presented fresh Pan-fried pigeon breast starter with caramelised shallot, lentils and pumpkin casserole, we opted for a vegetarian sharing platter.
This included crispy halloumi croquets, buffalo mozzarella, oxford blue cheese arancini, chick pea puree, roasted balsamic cherry tomato and mixed peppers with prune and apple chutney and onion bread.
A superb combination suitable for the most eclectic pallet yet simple enough to please all.
Roasted pheasant with butternut squash puree, variegated kale, fondant tomato, red current and red wine sauce – the preferred choice of the two game dishes – well thought out and bursting with complex flavours.
One 8oz Ribeye and one 8oz Sirloin both with hand cut chips, confit tomatoes and field mushrooms with peppercorn sauce – cooked rare and to perfection.
Our meal was completed with Quince, plum and apple crumble with vanilla custard; an ideal sharing desert for three following the hearty dishes prior.
Our experience in the Stow has confirmed the pre-established views most would envision of a traditional Cotswold pub – From the smiling and cheerful locals, to the hearty yet sophisticated food menu and extensive drinks menu. An experience we would thoroughly recommend.
See for yourselves what the fuss is all about – head over to the Bell at Stow!
For the official Bell at Stow website click HERE
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