“ Address: Whitminster / Gloucester / GL2 7NY / England „
This a very nice, local Chinese restaurant, that serves reasonably priced, good-value, good food and is one of our favourite eateries near to us.
It's situated very conveniently for travellers by car - right by the side of the A38, just under a mile or so north from Junction 13 of the M5 in Gloucestershire. It's notionally in the village of Whitminster, which - having only passed through it, looks a bit like a hamlet to me - so I think it must be geared up for people driving to get there; there certainly is a large carpark on the site / complex. There are several different businesses next door to each other here (don't know whether they're all under the same management or not) including a traditional roadside-type, modernish pub / hotel (I think it's called the Whitminister Arms), a fish and chip shop and an Indian takeaway (that also may be a sit-down Indian restaurant, come the weekend). All this catering potential also allows the Whitminster complex to cater weddings and other like functions - they have a couple of semi-permanent marquees for that in the field nearby (this looks out over rolling countryside to stunning views of the Cotswold Escarpment, so it's nicer than this must sound from that description).
Most of the table in the China Garden don't have countryside views however; those by the windows mostly look out onto a paved courtyard - with outdoor tables good for summer dining - that's shared with the sometime Indian restaurant. It's not a top-of-the-range restaurant and doesn't pretend to be, but it is nicely decorated inside; a lot of the tables are in a largeish conservatory on the side of the building, so it's nice and light.
I'm commenting mainly on the set / business lunches here (as being an unemployed mother of a small sprog I don't get out to go for posh evening meals much at present) but am very reliably informed that the a la carte off-the-menu dishes (especially the 'sizzling' ones served on an iron plate at the table) are also extremely good. Anyway, for about £8 from the lower priced menu, or about £11 for the slightly more 'de luxe' version, you get to choose two courses - a starter and a main, the main being accompanied by a pretty generous portion of rice, egg fried rice or stir-fried noodles. The chicken and sweet corn first course is very good, and the chicken satay is excellent; there are a few veggies options - I think limited to crispy seaweed as a starter, but there are a couple of stir-fried veggie variations to choose from for mains. The meat-based mains offer a variety of the usual Chinese restaurant stand-bys; cripsy beef; roast pork in Japanese BBQ sauce (highly recommended); chicken curry (and probably a few more that escape me); these are cooked to order and to a pretty good standard, so what you'll get is streaks ahead of your usual takeaway Chinese food, and a pretty good contender even in the more high-end Chinese restaurant stakes.
A minor point is that I don't think the set lunch offers the usual non-Chinese-dish options that you occasionally find provided in Chinese restaurants - such as omelette, or chicken and chips. So of you don't want to eat any Chinese food at all, the set lunch is not going to be for you. Such dishes may however be available from the main menu - I don't know myself - but they certainly are to be had at the pub restaurant next door, or failing that, the takeaway chippy round the corner.
In summary, the China Garden is a good, reliable, local restaurant that never disappoints. One of my personal favourites, and I would have no heistation in recommending it!