Restaurant Review: Owens Restaurant, Tewkesbury
Amid the media's scaremongering about Tewkesbury's supposed floods, Katie ventures out to the town and finds a warm and completely dry - welcome
Restaurant Review: Owens Restaurant, Tewkesbury
Amid the media’s scaremongering about Tewkesbury’s supposed floods, Katie ventures out to the town and finds a warm – and completely dry - welcome
“There’s something in the boot,” Ian says, irritably, as we begin driving to Tewkesbury. Now he mentions it, I can hear something – possibly forgotten shopping; outside chance it’s a body – swishing backwards and forwards as we turn each corner. Were Ian as sensitive to art, classical music or deep emotion as he is to random car noises, he’d be urbane and charming. As it is, he’s just annoying.
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“Remind me to look to see what it is when we get there,” he says.
“No problem,” I say, as the shopping/kidnap victim merrily courses to his side once again, knowing full well I’ll forget the moment he turns the engine off.
“You’ll forget the moment I turn the engine off, won’t you?” he says.
“Certainly not!” I say, deeply offended. (My esprit d’escalier, dammit, is the fact that, if he’s that irked, why the thump doesn’t he remember himself?)
We’re off to try Owens in Tewkesbury, at Ian’s suggestion. “It’s got a Michelin thing-ummy,” he says.
“Tyre?” I suggest. As Ian’s entire knowledge pool is based around vehicles, this seems the most likely. The website says it’s a Bib Gourmand, however, which sounds promising – more-than-decent food at reasonable prices. It had better be good as we’ve eaten incredibly well at home this week.
Since our recent move to Nailsworth, I’ve discovered the town’s fabulous Country Market. The sad thing is that, despite fantastic produce, I’ve been the only person in there each of the weeks I’ve gone. I’ve felt upset-ish for them, but I’ve mostly been thrilled to have had the pick of cakes, sausage rolls and purple-sprouting broccoli, which I’ve scooped into my arms with alacrity. It was only when I was coming out last week, at my usual 8.30am, that I noticed a small crowd of people huddled eagerly outside the door, beside a notice that said, ‘Opens 9am’. Awkward.
Anyway, Owens. If the press are to be believed, Tewkesbury is currently only reachable by boat, its streets passable by those with access to aqualungs and flippers. Indeed, when we arrive, the streets are awash.
With people. Hardly a puddle in sight. They – many of them children - seem to be flocking to (or from – hard to tell) the cathedral, which gives the town a genial, bustle-y air. We’re booked into Owens for 7pm and duly arrive, slightly shivery in the chill, 10 minutes early. The door is locked, despite the fact that the notice in the window claims it has opened at 6pm. We could pound on it in undignified fashion, but I settle for the clever ploy of phoning them from outside and politely asking if they could consider a radical policy rethink and actually let customers in.
Certainly,” says the nice chap – looks like the chef – who we can see answering it. “Where are you?”
We wave, merrily, somewhat to his surprise, and he unlocks. After that slightly damp start, the whole thing goes swimmingly. It’s a wonderful 15th century building, full of character, and even our table has a kind of bishop’s throne, which I instantly cede to Ian as the man of the house. (Frankly, it looks uncomfy.)
And then we proceed to thoroughly enjoy ourselves to the point of split infinitives. We order a poached ham hock starter with green bean, radish and watercress salad and a tasty Dijon mustard cream dressing; and smoked salmon, soused mackerel and cucumber raita; then a specials pork belly; and a fricassee of spring vegetables, gratin potatoes and a basil cream sauce. The amounts are perfect; the flavours delicate and well-balanced, and the service is friendly and efficient. And it’s clearly a popular place; as the evening wears on, the fiendishly clever policy of unlocking the door begins to work, and customers flock in.
To top off an extremely acceptable meal, we nibble off warm citrus polenta cake with rhubarb and ginger compote and Greek yogurt; a lemon posset and raspberries and a plate of Ceri Cryer’s excellent Brinkworth blue. Add coffee and wine, and the bill of around �80 seems pretty reasonable to me – and to Michelin, too, of course.
So we drag our satisfied bulks back down to the car park, at one with the world. And as we pull out of our parking space and head down the road, a body – or possibly some shopping – echoes our mood by cheerily swishing across the boot.
Value for money 8
Owens Restaurant, 73 Church St, Tewkesbury GL20 5RX, 01684 292703; www.eatatowens.co.uk