The Greenway Hotel & Spa, to give it its full name, is very much in the Cotswold country manor house genre and delivers up Cotswold stone outside, while inside, it's all oak panelling, stone fireplaces and soft carpets - you get the idea. But with Marcus in the kitchen, the food offering, while appropriately classical for the setting is also going to have contemporary twists and is always going to be stunning. For my lunch there, Marcus treated me to a tasting menu that is not yet available to the public, but across menus, most of the individual dishes were, and all of the food was fantastic.
There's some massive flavours here, like Confit Isle of Wight Tomato with Salted Pilchards, which delivered an astonishing intensity. Secretly I want to bottle it and use it as a condiment for it makes every relish you've ever tried pale in comparison, and nothing would ever be bland again. Over the blogging years, I can't remember anything quite like this before. There was some classic pairings also such as Roast Isle of Skye Scallop, Black Pudding and Cauliflower that are expertly delivered. The main course duck meanwhile came in two parts: the glazed breast with cherries and smoked eel again packs a punch, but it is the "Duck Rolly Polly" that has duck leg rolled in brioche that steals the show, with sweet and savoury notes that almost confuse you as to what part of the menu you're enjoying. This is a new dish that Marcus was about to launch on the main menu, finally being happy that he's got it right, and he has, it's beautifully unique and a real winner.
Looking after front of house was Ben who did a great job, but his colleagues perhaps needed a reminder that they are in the hospitality business. But I also enjoyed the fact that The Greenway's wine list has a decent selection of half bottles at good prices allowing you to drink well without anchoring you to a full bottle and the absence of variety that can bring.
Marcus is a massive talent and he earned his stripes heading up the pass at two star restaurants, and all that technical skill, innovation and attention to detail continues here and really marks the food as special. I have eaten at The Greenway several times now and absolutely love doing so, it's always good. The restaurant is open to non residents but, and this is only a personal opinion, it does not feel like the owners of the hotel are seeking to push the restaurant on a wider stage. It would be more than easy to visit Cheltenham, research top restaurants in the area and never even discover that the restaurant at The Greenway has one of the country's leading chefs at the helm. And that's a shame. But if you do visit Cheltenham and you do want to eat something remarkable, keep The Greenway in mind. Hidden gem is a somewhat overused term, but Marcus at the Greenway is surely that and deserves substantially great recognisiton.