Restaurant review: Flynn's, Montpellier Street, Cheltenham
SHORTLY after I moved to Cheltenham I was looking for a pleasant place to take my girlfriend out for a good meal.
Not being familiar with the town and, as it was a special occasion, rather than chance my arm, I decided to play it safe by doing a straw poll of my new work colleagues.
“What’s the best bet for a tasty meal in a relaxing atmosphere?” I asked them.
Everybody had their own recommendations, but one phrase was common to all their responses: “You can’t go wrong with Flynns.”
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And, just as they had all promised, nothing went wrong and I scored a few much-needed relationship points.
We had a (dare I say it) romantic meal with lovely food and wine on a quiet evening and just a few other customers around us.
That was back in November 2010, so when I returned almost 18 months later I was hoping they had maintained such high standards.
This time, however, it was in a very different context.
Gone was my delightful partner and in her place was the imposing figure of Citizen rugby writer Nick Purewal.
That’s right: we were on a man date. This time, it was bromance (for the uninitiated, this is an intimate but non-sexual relationship between men).
And rather than the quiet evening of my last visit, this time there was not a spare seat in the whole place.
Customers can’t book, so after a post-work beer we turned up to the Montpellier Courtyard venue in the hope there was room for us and after a minute waiting at the bar we were shown to a small table for two in the window.
We considered our choices over a cold pint of a German lager called Bitburger and eventually reached our decision, not without difficulty due to the abundance of alluring options.
To start I ordered a personal favourite, whitebait, while Nick had a fishcake.
My only reluctance in choosing the little fish dish lay in the fear that the portion may have been small.
But that was completely unfounded.
I was presented with a veritable mountain of crispy, deep fried, tender and tasty fish, served with a homemade chilli garlic mayonnaise.
The fishcake was soft on the inside, with tasty chunks of salmon, chives and it was served with a traditional tartare sauce.
Both came with a dressed side salad.
After a decidedly maritime feel to the opening course, we went back to the land for the mains.
I had the pan crisped Gressingham duck breast and confit duck leg.
The meat was satisfyingly tender, with a sweet port wine sauce, whole redcurrants and dauphinoise potatoes fit for a prince.
As I worked my way through another generous portion, Nick enjoyed a venison cassoulet.
Using the deer meat added a quintessentially British touch to an old French classic.
For my dessert we hummed the old Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney classic Ebony and Ivory as the delightful waitress served up a marbled white and dark chocolate brownie.
The texture was nice and crumbly and the two types of chocolate combined to make a smooth and rich taste.
Nick opted for the banoffee pie, which, as he put it, tasted like a combination of ‘banana and toffee’.
Each was a wonderful way to round off a hearty meal at the end of the week.
The mains and desserts were accompanied by a fruity bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, from Italy, with the flavours of cherry, pepper and chocolate.
We walked off into the Friday night air with appetites thoroughly satisfied.
Because, as I always tell people these days: “You can’t go wrong with Flynns”.
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Location: The Courtyard, Montpellier Street, Cheltenham
Atmosphere: Busy and bustling most nights
Price: Starters from £4.95, mains £12 to £19
Drink: Wide selection of red and white
Service: Friendly, cheerful and attentive
Contact: 01242 252752