From the eclectic, brightly-coloured modern artwork that decorates the interior of this diminutive 28-cover establishment, to the sincerely warm welcome meeted out by joint proprietor Helen Everitt-Matthias and, above all, the imaginative and assured cooking of her husband, David, what's on offer here is the most individual and extraordinarily pleasurable experience.
It seems incredible to learn that only two other chefs support David in the kitchen because his dishes often involve a host of deftly-handled components. A starter of seared scallops with crispy-baked Cumbrian ham comes served on a deliciously light Crown Prince pumpkin puree, with a flourish of caramelised balsamic around the edge of the plate adding a necessary touch of sweetness, and a light sauce of fish stock, milk, bread and nougat delivering complexity and depth.
For main course, meanwhile, a delicately-cooked hake fillet comes with a lovely summery risotto made with peas, broad beans, watercress and rocket, and is further enhanced by a few sharp baby capers and a delightfully fresh parsley cream. Alternatively, a mouthwateringly tender piece of pork belly comes kaleidoscopically flavoured with five spice, ginger, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise and dried orange peel, and is served with parsnip puree and girolles, providing a symphony of sweet and savoury flavours.
Desserts continue the finesse: a gutsy fig tatin being perfectly matched by a spiced bread ice cream and burnt orange syrup, while the wine list includes plenty of fairly-priced bottles. All in all, this restaurant in itself provides reason enough to get in the car and make off to Cheltenham for an indulgent weekend.