A Guest Blog Review from Hayley Vining Clemmens
Get a pizza the pie on your mums’ night out
Shut (The Stable) door, Cheltenham Mamans!
We’ve found the perfect venue for your next ‘mum off duty’ outing in Cheltenham.
We recently enjoyed a very rare mum’s night out at The Stable, in Clarence Street Cheltenham, and as we are a sharing bunch we wanted to tell you more about it!
Following much precision planning – you know the drill Mamans, supervising feeding time at the zoo trying not to polish off the left over fish fingers, pouring yourself into the comfiest pair of black jeans you own which are so well worn they practically mould themselves to your butt cheeks, washing the little ones’s grubby faces and cleaning their teeth while laying out all the clothes for the morning (anything to make things easier with the mother of all hangovers the next day) you head through the front door safe in the knowledge Cheltenham Papa only has to read them a story and slot them into bed. Phew. I mean really, gents, how hard can that be?
We arrived at 7.30pm to a packed restaurant – always a good sign. As you might expect with a name like The Stable there was a real rustic feel to the place. Long bench tables, lots of hewn wood, natural timber and black iron mongery on show with huge church candles flickering on each table giving some nice low lighting.
The soft lighting was an immediate hit with us as it blissfully hid the large bags we were carrying under our eyes (hot summer weather plus small toddler plus school child at end of term equals very late nights and very early mornings multiplied by lots of meltdowns – on all sides).
Before us was a long bar set up beer festival style offering a BIG range of craft cider – something Cheltenham Papa would most definitely approve of if we could manage to get a babysitter to have a rare night out together. In fact, from a first glance we thought it would be a great choice for that ever elusive date night. There were lots of couples dotted around enjoying some quality time together as well as big groups of friends.
We were shortly shown to our table and handed menus by a cheerful member of staff who told us when we were ready we could order straight from the bar.
Now for the important decision – what would we have to drink?
The drink menu is extensive and The Stable is well known for its fantastic range of cider. Now fellow Cheltenham Maman Sarah is not a cider drinker so she was starting to panic a little here but there was a good wine menu too, and something even stronger should you really want to ‘get on it’.
To get some help we popped along to the bar to get some expert cider drinking advice from one of the ‘Stablehands’. In the end we chose a glass of Sauv Blanc for Sarah and a cider tasting board so we could ease her in gently to the world of cider drinking.
I was really excited and pleased to see that they had a brand called ‘Gert Lush’ in – a craft cider created by a friend of mine, Gloucestershire gal Raines and her partner- so I just had to get one of those. (As the name suggests it was gert lush!)
After informing the Stablehand I liked mine a little fruity (snigger) he expertly lined up some ciders he thought I would like and our virgin cider drinker would enjoy dipping her toe in with (not literally of course).
We headed back to our comfy table and immediately tucked into the cider tasting board. Our favourite was one which Sarah (minus reading glasses) misread to call Cornish ‘Bush’ (Huge guffaw) *Actually Cornish Blush*. Very fruity with a bit of a reddish tinge. Lovely!
As you can see from this fuzzy selfie, the cider tasting started to get a little messy but can I just clarify we were drinking on empty stomachs (well maybe a few mouthfuls of fish finger) and the Cornish ‘Bush’ was going down a treat!
I must admit – we were a tad excited to be ‘out’ out and the opportunity to have a PROPER adult conversation without the interruptions of ‘mum, mum, mum, mum, mum’ every 30 seconds or so proved too much, which meant we took a fair while to peruse the food menu peppered with a bit of chat (and maybe one or two glances at the mobile phone to check there was no emergency text from our respective Cheltenham Papas at home).
Now you might be fooled into thinking there may be limited choice at a restaurant just offering pizza and pie but the menu is extensive. There’s a huge range of flavours, toppings and fillings to try and we thought the local references to some of Cheltenham’s well known landmarks in their names, including ‘The Cotswold Lion’, ‘The Pittville Pig’ and ‘The Spy-cy GCHQ’ was a bit of fun.
The Stable don’t do starters but there’s the option of ordering nuts and olives if you need to get the juices flowing. We didn’t bother as looking around at some of the huge rustic wooden platters we just wanted to dive straight in!
Now we did carefully consider ‘being good’ and opting for one the beautiful sounding salads – I really liked the sound of the ‘West Country Crab’ option – but in the end we opted for ‘The Blazing Saddle Pizza’ and something a little different that we wouldn’t normally go for the ‘The Get My Goat’ pie as we both love a bit of meat. We felt the prices were very reasonable too – with the mains ranging from £8 up to £13 depending on the topping and flavour options.
As we continued ploughing through our cider tasting things continued to get fuzzier, but our food soon arrived on huge rustic serving trays. A real feast for our eyes and empty bellies.
Now us CheltenhamMamans are nothing like CheltenhamPapas and we’re more than happy to share our food. We want the best of both worlds, right? So we started sharing and tucked right in.
The pizza base was light, crispy and tasty which led us to thinking it was authentic wood fired. It was absolutely loaded with toppings too – Gloucestershire smoked bacon, slow roasted pulled beef, caramelised onions, roasted red peppers and mozzarella and sour cream. Being big supporters of local businesses we were really pleased to find out from one of the Stablehands that a majority of the ingredients are sourced in the main from local producers. Win win for taste buds and budding local businesses too.
Now Sarah is a well-travelled Maman and her verdict was this was the second best pizza she has ever tasted – number one being in beautiful Rome itself, which I think is a pretty big compliment. We were surprised to hear that the pizza was not wood fired though, cooked in a large electric oven transported all the way over from Italy instead, with some super thick stones to give it that authentic taste.
I had never tried goat before, so the pie was a bit of a taste journey for me but oh ‘billy’ boy was it good. The pie crust and base was flaky (in a good way) with no soggy bottoms in sight and the curried goat and peas inside were nicely spiced and tender. It came served with some of the biggest wedges we’d ever seen and a divine tomato chutney (I must find out which producer made this as I need to buy a pot for our ploughman picnics) and healthy looking side salad. Don’t worry if you’re not meat eaters though as we saw plenty of veggie pizza and pie options too to please everyone. There were opportunities for Gluten Free and other intolerance options too. Good news if you or any of your Cheltenham Famille have any intolerances or if like me you are trying (and most of the time failing) to follow a clean and lean diet!
By now we’re feeling pretty tipsy and the innuendo linked to big wedges and Cornish bushes is staring to get a bit silly. We’re also starting to stray into classic mum talk territory including how often we have to clean up wee from around the toilet seat (the joys of rearing boys) and how emotional we are our first borns are just completing their very first year at school. Thankfully there’s some great background music playing and lots of buzz so nearby dinners weren’t treated to the ins and outs of our families’ respective toilet habits (mostly outs).
Music looks to be a big part of The Stable make up. On our way in we spotted some posters advertising upcoming live music over the summer which we think would give a real festival feel for a fun night out with friends. Hands up if you’re with us!
At some point one of The Stablehands walked past and politely popped the dessert menu on our table. We grabbed another pint of Cornish Bush (no – still not getting old) and Sarah opted for the Cheesecake with baked caramelised apple, clotted cream and ginger while I had what can only be described as a dessert for Queens, Nutella Pizza Pudding.
Nutella is a staple ingredient in our Cheltenham Maman kitchen cupboard. The fab fellow mummy blogger Giovanna Fletcher is a big fan too. I am sure plenty of you will have joined me in hiding behind a closed kitchen door scraping out the remains from the bottom of a jar of Nutella just to get a quick fix and five minutes peace.
To have it smothered on the base of the before mentioned delicious pizza base with creamy sweet mascarpone ever so slightly dusted with delicate icing sugar was…well…let’s just say while we were tucking in together Sarah and I shared a bit of a Harry met Sally kind of moment.
Having gorged ourselves on cider, wine, pie, pizza and pudding and with all the talk of toilet habits I had to answer the call of nature so I set off in search of the loos. I spotted a good child changing facility on the ground floor (thumbs up) but decided to head to the ones upstairs.
This is home to the big open kitchen and the huge electric ovens we had heard about. The chefs were busy preparing food but I couldn’t resist having a quick chat with them to say thanks for a great meal. They were really pleased I had taken the time to thank them (and so was I – they were pretty darn gorgeous as you can see from this pic!)
On the way back I had a quick scout to see whether it would be a good place to bring the entire family – a routine that is almost like second nature to most of us Mamans. I already knew Cheltenham Papa would be very well catered for by the winning combination of pizza, pie and cider but what about our CheltenhamEnfants and Bébés?
We’re pleased to report plenty of good quality high chairs (wooden of course to fit into the décor) and a fab well priced children’s menu – £10 for a pizza, salad bites, drink and pudding. I took the menu back to have a quick read through with Sarah. The cute farm yard picture for kids to colour in on the back was very apt for the way we were both feeling at this point as our taxi back to normality beckoned.
One thing for sure, we will be back soon. Especially when we spied the deal of a pizza, drink and side salad all for a tenner on a Tuesday! A big high five from Cheltenham Maman to The Stable for great tasting, honest, simple food done really well in relaxed but refined atmosphere. Put it in your list of places to go Mamans, avec or sans famille, and when you go tell them we sent you!