“ Address: Gloucester Road / Tewkesbury / Gloucestershire GL20 5SY / United Kingdom / Tel: 01684 292278 „
Hidden away from the main cluster of attractions in the undeniably pretty town centre of Tewkesbury, Gupshill Manor is somewhere I came across only by happenstance. Intrigued by the unusual name (probably a corruption of "coppice hill" it turns out) and unusual looking building, this was an eatery that we marked out for future investigation - and were very pleased we did so.
The sources I have found are torn between describing Gupshill Manor as dating from the 13th century or the early 15th century, but either way this restaurant clearly has its roots in a medieval manor house. Viewed from the outside, the building is a white half-timbered building (as are many in Tewkesbury), neatly presented and well-maintained but with the warping of some timbers and the worn carved stone doorway around the back of the building evidence of the great age of the property. Situated in close proximity to the site of the battle of Tewkesbury (1471), the building suffered a turbulent early history, but continued to function as the local manor house until it was converted into a local pub in the 1950s. A more recent, and rather lavish, refurbishment has seen this building transformed again into a gastropub - although I hesitate to use the word for all the negative connotations of snobbishness, over-pricing and pretentiousness that seem to accompany it. Yes, this is a gastropub, but in the true sense of the word - a pub that also serves restaurant quality food.
The interior of the manor has kept its layout of small rooms, cosy corners and open fireplaces (complete with ornately carved stonework swiped from Tewkesbury Abbey during the dissolution of the monasteries), but has been refurbished in a comfortably modern way that respects the age and quirkiness of the building. You are greeted on entering by a cosy lounge bar decorated in comforting creams and browns, and stocked with plenty of comfy furniture, leather sofas and just the right amount of ornamentation to make the room feel inviting without smothering the ancient timber beams of the building. Should you visit in the summer, you can sit out in the back garden, probably the largest and most luxuriously furnished pub terrace I have ever had the pleasure to use. Being on the edge of town, the manor has very peaceful setting, and sitting in the garden on a summer's evening is very relaxing; the size of the garden and car park out front puts a good distance between this seating area and the main road to Cheltenham, so traffic noise hardly intrudes on your quiet drink in this spot.
But Gupshill Manor is not just a pub. The restaurant section adjoining the bar is what we really come for; good food in a very welcoming ambience. On arriving recently during a late afternoon, we enquired what time they start serving food. "Six o' clock" came the reply, "but if you are hungry we can open up earlier". I don't think atmospheres come much more amiable than that. The restaurant itself is stylish yet comfortable, and I would feel as good eating here on a special occasion as I would with a languid Sunday lunch.
The menu here changes regularly, and there is a clear focus on locally sourced produce, and on offering a good choice of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes. Options range from classic British dishes (like the beer battered cod), through to the more exotic (such as Thai noodles with tuna steak) and traditional fare with a twist (e.g. roast pork stuffed with sundried tomatoes and mozzarella and served with pesto mash). Special requests and substitutions are taken care of without fuss or problem, and the food comes beautifully well presented. Children are taken care of with their own mini-menu (although to be honest I was a little disappointed that they don't serve child-sized portions of their main menu dishes), while the dessert list demands a concerted effort for space to be left in your stomach. The last time I ate there I had a warm pear and almond tart that was so meltingly good I would have run off with the chef if I wasn't already married. And I'm not even a big fan of pastry! I have yet to sample the bar beyond the soft drinks so I am not able to extensively comment on the drinks served (the usual suspects only it appears - some good quality alternatives to fizzy drinks for the designated drivers would have complimented such an establishment well, I thought), and beers seem to be the standard Greene King affair. The wine list looked fairly extensive for a place of this size, and the speed at which Other Half's glass of red disappeared seems to suggest there was nothing very much wrong with it. Hopefully next time I will win the toss of the coin and be able to comment on the wines from personal experience!
The service we received was friendly and polite, and clearly well trained and informed about what they are serving - although a little slow even when quiet. This is something to keep in mind if you go during busy times; you could be waiting an awfully long time for your pudding.
In terms of prices, I wouldn't call the manor expensive - it is more a case of getting what you pay for. Food quality is very good, so you can't expect budget prices (although offer an excellent value three small courses for £10 menu, which seems to prove popular). Ordering from the main menu on the last occasion we ate there, two starters, two main courses (with large helpings of meat), two desserts, two soft drinks and one glass of wine came to £55. Not a cheap night one by any means, but we enjoyed every single mouthful - and left feeling that we wouldn't need to eat anything else for a week! You can look over sample menus here: http://www.gupshillmanor.com/Food.htm
I really like the Gupshill Manor; warm and inviting with open fires in the winter, and the best beer garden I have seen for the summer months make this a good year-round destination. The food is top notch, but unfortunately not be enjoyed too often at these prices. Given the location on the edge of town, it is a place that will require a designated driver for the vast majority of people to visit though, and for this I wish they would cater a bit more extensively in the drinks section - it would be nice to complement my meal with something a bit more tasty than yet another glass of siphoned diet coke.
Open 11am to 11pm daily.