Le Champignon Sauvage is one of the UK’s top restaurants, and best-kept secrets, adored by critics and chefs for its innovative take on British cuisine
There are many reasons readers of P1 may visit Cheltenham – a picturesque Regency town in the south west of England. First, there is the famous Cheltenham Festival, a horseracing heaven culminating in the Gold Cup. Then there is the aviation industry, maintaining a presence in the town where the first ever jet prototype was built. Then there is GCHQ, the heart of British intelligence and security.
Whatever your mission, secret or otherwise, it’s essential that when in Cheltenham you dine at one of the UK’s finest restaurants. Le Champignon Sauvage keeps a low profile despite the glowing reviews and numerous accolades, including two Michelin stars.
London-born chef and author David Everitt-Matthias has been the co-owner and head chef of Le Champignon Sauvage since 1987, a joint venture he shares with his wife Helen.
In 28 years, David and Helen have never missed a service. If the restaurant is open, David will always be in the kitchen, while Helen runs front of house. Le Champignon Sauvage has been a two Michelin starred restaurant since 2000, gaining its first star in 1995.
Le Champignon Sauvage, meaning ‘wild mushroom,’ has become renowned for David’s creative use of local ingredients, many of which he and Helen forage themselves.
Unlike many top restaurants, Le Champignon Sauvage has an unassuming, relaxed air – from the warm greeting to the understated décor, diners are made to feel welcome in a place where the food takes centre stage. You also know who is doing the cooking here, unlike some other restaurants where the name above the door is seldom in the kitchen.
Fellow chefs and critics have heaped praise on David and the restaurant he has quietly crafted. Jay Rayner from The Observer called Le Champignon Sauvage “a restaurant of extraordinary consistency and ambition which has quietly been at the forefront of British gastronomy” and “one of Britain’s greatest restaurants”. Rayner also declared his visit was “one of the best meals of my life”.
Heston Blumenthal called David “the epitome of what a truly great modern chef should be’ and “a gastronomic visionary”. Praise indeed.
Typical dishes showcase the very best of seasonal British cuisine, infused with international flavours. How about Seared Flank Of Dexter Beef with Hereford Snails and Parsley Puree to begin, followed by Cinderford Lamb with Lamb Sweetbreads, Pea Puree, Pistachio and Wilted Lettuce? It really is as good as it sounds, and the presentation is also stunning. It’s little surprise then to see sumptuous recipe books written by David available to buy in the restaurant. We challenge you to walk out without buying one, and David will happily sign it for you too.