It seemed unlikely – a new French restaurant with rooms serving stunning food in the tiny Cotswold town of Bampton. Tearooms and pubs yes, but gastronomy?
But when I heard that Frenchman Olivier Bonte (of Harcourt Arms fame) and Will Morris (of The Edge Eatery in Witney) were behind the Fleur De Lys venture, suddenly it all made sense.
Throw in head chef Stuart Banks, formerly of The Swan at Ascott-Under-Wychwood, and it has become a formidable partnership. (read our recent review HERE)
Formerly The Romany Inn, the premises was closed for two years before Olivier, Will and their team took it on, investors ensuring a high spec on the rooms upstairs which boast enormous beds, bathrooms and family suites ranging an entire floor.
Formerly The Romany Inn, the premises was closed for two years before Olivier, Will and their team took it on
Downstairs has more of a brasserie feel, although the bar area is more pubby, ensuring that the space can be all things to all people; from breakfast room to coffee and cocktails, afternoon tea and cake to a more formal dinner, a far cry from the Cotswold pub look taking over the area.
It was the dinner we were after though, the French menu singing to us up the stairs. In fact we sat down for supper so early (the clocks had gone back and we forgot), they had to move us into the bar until the kitchens were ready.
Chomping at the bit, we kicked off with the 24 months Compte Gougeres (£8); marvellous little choux pastry bundles of joy (see pic above) filled with an oozing cheese paste that disappeared in an instant, along with the piping hot and crispy ham and cheese and ham croquettes (£8).
Then the French onion soup (£10) which needs a whole review just to itself such was the wonder and the joy it brought. Deep, soft, sweet, treacly depths, the bowl edges burnt with cheese where it had been put under the grill to char the croutons. All it needed was a snowy piste and it was job done.
‘the French onion soup needs a whole review just to itself ‘
The pate de campagne with celeriac remoulade and cornichons (£9) featured all my favourite things on a plate – the pâté as rough and chunky as you’d hope, the remoulade heavy with mustard, the cornichons giving it that sour crunch, the Mark’s Bakery baguette charred.
As for the twice baked Comte soufflé with mustard and spinach (£11) (yes I know we were overloading on cheese but as the French would say ‘qui se soucie’) it was swimming in a wonderful thick, rich, indulgent cheese sauce. My husband stared in envy as it dripped off the light spongey soufflé peeping through.
Hard to surpass then, but the Gods kept on giving – the cassoulet on the specials menu (you might have read about my disastrous cassoulet at The Cosy Club HERE) setting the right example – proper peasant food – beans, Toulouse sausage, pork rillettes and the confit duck leg nestling on that wonderful rich tomatoey sauce.
‘Swelling with every mouthful of cassoulet, like Popeye, my husband refused to give in until every last glorious mouthful was gone’
Swelling with every mouthful like Popeye, my husband refused to give in until every last glorious mouthful was gone.
It had to be creme brûlée (£9) for dessert (to share in case you were concerned for our health), an ample portion, satisfyingly tap heavy with that wonderful rich custard base topped with a layer of hardened caramelized sugar.
So there we are, all the French classics in one heavenly decadent night.
Heaving ourselves off to bed, after some very good red wine, the room was a delight and we slept like babies, awakening somehow hungry enough for a combination of the English and French breakfasts.
From croissants to compote with stewed fruit, some delicious Bircher Muesli, and a full English, it was a suitable finish to such a gastronomic night away.
‘if you’re considering a night away, or a Cotswold adventure, book in for the night or just go for dinner. The food is magnificent’
Gluttons the pair of us, but with such wonderful French hospitality on offer, very hard to resist.
So yes, if you’re considering a night away, or a Cotswold adventure, book in for the night or just go for dinner. The food is magnificent. Hard to fault.
Or just pop in for the ultimate Beaujolais Nouveau experience on November 16, a fantastic evening full of délicieux wine, scrumptious food and live music. Tickets £45. BOOK HERE
The Fleur De Lys at Bampton. Room rates start from £110 and includes breakfast for 2 adults. https://fleurdelys-bampton.com