When the nights draw in, the heating goes up, and all you want is a warm bowl of soup in a cosy cafe, then Quince and Clover in Great Tew is the place to head.
Heaving, thanks to the current Cotswolds boom and Soho Farmhouse up the road, it attracts a well-heeled crowd of dog walkers, locals, hikers, riders and some pretty famous A-List residents, with lots of gilets and Dubarry boots to behold.
In fact if Mariah Carey popped in for an almond croissant singing All I Want for Christmas, I doubt they’d bat an eyelid.
And to give Quince and Clover some credit, Dan and Anna Mann predicted the gold rush way before it actually hit, by opening in the old post office next to The Falkland Arms in lockdown READ ABOUT IT HERE, and bringing in head chef Mary Franklin, from the Michelin starred Nut Tree.
Suffice too say, that when we left there were people queueing outside, both for the takeaway option – great for the working-from-home crowd – or an elusive table.
So we had timed it well, arriving as breakfast and brunch turned into lunch (11.30am) and the coffee crowd began departing, sharing a table with two other couples as we scanned the daily specials and goodies laid out on the counters; from salads, buns and sausage rolls to pastries and cakes.
A simple enough premise you might think, but what Quince and Clover do, they do brilliantly, their salad selection changing every day, the specials literally flying out of the door.
On this occasion that included the slow cooked beef shin chilli with cracked wheat, sour cream and almonds (£18.95), a hickory pork bap ‘n ruby slaw with Emmental, gherkins, rocket and harissa mayo (£14.50), a marinated beetroot salad with bulgur wheat, feta, black figs, honey, rocket and walnuts, the winter leaf Caesar or the thyme and garlic roasted roots.
You can order at the counter or the table, and while fairly chaotic because of the constantly changing clientele, the staff are lovely, smiley and efficient, despite the maelstrom around them.
And so the roasted carrot and coriander soup with a turkey and Emmental toastie (£14), although disappointingly they couldn’t do a veggie toastie without the turkey, so we had to go without and were still charged £11).
But one sip of the soup and suddenly we stopped caring, because the subtle spiced potage had a delicious kick and crunch of seeds and nuts, the thick, silky smoothness helping you to forget about the cold, the rain and the mud outside.
The poached Cotswold eggs and smashed avocado with toasted sourdough, greens and dukkah (£14) also disappeared indecently fast on the other side of the table, the dukkah (a mixture of herbs, nuts, and spices), giving it some extra punchiness, the ingredients speaking for themselves.
And right there and then we realised why everyone raves about Quince and Clover; why foodies flock, and celebs trot in, why there are people in the porch waiting patiently for a space like Mary and Joseph outside the manger, because there is some unfeasibly good home-cooking to be had. Throw in the picturesque setting and it’s hard to beat.
The coffee also rocks, as do the cakes – the brownies a major highlight – so if you’re passing, or planning a good walk over the Christmas holidays, we’d recommend that you pop in. But prepare your wallet, these aren’t cafe but restaurant prices, not that anyone seems to mind – they’re far to busy chowing down.
Quince and Clover, Great Tew, https://quinceandclover.co.uk/cotswold-cafe/