The trip back home to Cheltenham from a particularly cold and windy town in the East Midlands has become like a mini holiday for me; the enormous contrast between weather conditions when only 100 miles separates the two places never fails to astonish me. However, I have learnt to remember around this time of year that the occasional blinding sunshine may make it look as though there’s a tropical paradise waiting outside the window, however that irritatingly stubborn April chilly breeze hasn’t quite disappeared yet – sigh! Alfresco dining will have to wait until next month...
Luckily, Bottelino’s restaurant on St James Street in Cheltenham (just around the corner from the High Street) could offer the next best thing. The crisp white interior, coupled with large windows and a lovely open layout, will cause you to reminisce about past hot holidays, which may or may not be a good thing, but for that hour or two that you are in the restaurant you will totally forget you’re actually in soggy England. Vague but extremely amusing memories of a certain 18th birthday dinner some years ago incited this choice of restaurant, but now, at 21 years old, would it still impress?
The restaurant was extremely busy so there was a very awkward 10 minutes of being bumped around at the bar before we were seated, yet manager Andreas made us feel very welcome and ensured our table service was top notch once we had been shown our table. We had a table on the first floor, and there was a considerably loud hum of happy diners which made for a brilliant atmosphere. I opted for Salmone Insalata (£9.95) – salmon salad - for my main meal which was actually larger than every other dish that came to the table, including Spaghetti alla Bolognese (£8.75), Pollo Pizzaiola (£12.45), and Cannelloni (£8.95). The salad was somewhat simple with a light oil dressing, including salmon fillet, smoked salmon and mixed olives; some of my absolute favourite foods, so I was very happy indeed. Having said that, I could have done with a slightly more adventurous dressing or some croutons as there was a substantial amount of lettuce to get through.
I wasn’t quite satisfied upon finishing my meal and knew the only solution was desert, a very large desert. Cue the sickliest sweet chocolate cheesecake that was utterly delicious and topped everything off perfectly. Thank goodness the sun was shining as I need a very long walk after that!
Bottellino’s has been on St James Street since 1988 and underwent a complete refurbishment at the end of 2006, incorporating new features such as the open pizzeria where you can see your pizza prepared freshly to order, and the introduction of the first floor dining area – particularly popular with private parties and group bookings.
We chose from the main menu for our meal, however there is a brilliant lunchtime offer that runs seven days a week, giving you the chance to eat any pizza or pasta from the menu for just £4.95. This is ideal for a shopping lunch break or, like me, for those students or young people who want to eat out but can’t afford to spend more than a fiver!