Review of The Tavern Cheltenham – Chilli Cheese Burger
What they say:
Beef Patty, Green Chilli Slaw, Tavern Slice, Tomato, Pickles, Sriracha.
Ask me where to go for food in Cheltenham and probably nine times out of ten I will say The Tavern.
That was until a few months back, when it unexpectedly closed due to a small fire. Luckily, nobody was injured as a result of this, but the people of Cheltenham felt the pain of its closure.
The reason being, is that for the past eight years, the only restaurant in Cheltenham to be awarded the prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand is considered one of the most reputable establishments to head for, for drinks, music and food.
I personally reached out to Lucky Onion (The Tavern is the first and one of a six-strong portfolio of restaurants, hotels, and pubs in and around Cheltenham owned by the group) and received a lovely response and invitation to check out the new menu.
Evidently, Lucky Onion’s PR is in a different league to other new, local places also selling burgers.
At this point, I’d like to add that today we didn’t pay for any of our food, but like when this happens at other places, has no influence on our honest and impartial review. With that out the way, let’s continue…
Way, way back in January 2013, we reviewed the burger which was on the menu at The Tavern in the first of many visits. Since then, we have gone on to establish ourselves as the number one burger review website in the UK. So it seemed fitting… The Tavern has undergone a “re-load” so think of this as our “re-visit.”
And the menu has changed… gone is one of my all-time favourites – The French Dip along with the selection of steaks, various plates and other dishes they used to do. I’m told it could return though…
The new streamlined menu’s main focus is firmly on burgers… with Aberdeen Angus and Hereford crosses beef from Tim Johnson at Stokes Marsh Farm, Coulston. Alongside the burgers you’ve got an array of complimenting sides, salad bowls and chicken wings.
It was a tough decision which of the tempting burgers I was going to opt for, but in the end it had to be the Chilli Cheese – more on the actual burger soon!
Sat inside, it’s a great feeling to be back and I have a fabulous table in the corner, by the window… taking in the Saturday afternoon atmosphere – love it in here.
With the menu reload you can now get an exceptionally cracking weekday deal – a burger, side and drink for only £12 from midday to 5pm. Methinks I will be coming back soon…
Despite deciding on the Chilli Cheese in advance, it seems there will now be a “burger of the month” at The Tavern (a great way of getting people back in the door). As we are now in December, this one obviously has a festive theme. The “Bad Santa Burger” is a Buttermilk Turkey burger with Sprout Slaw, Stuffing and Cranberry Ketchup (£9).
Tempting, but I’ll stick to my original choice…
Presentation-wise, when the above arrived on my table, I’m not too ashamed to say I let out a little weep of joy. The metal tray, the Lucky Onion branded burger wrap and the sticker indicating which burger is housed within all look cool. It’s tidy, slick and clearly a lot of thought has gone into the reload of this Cheltenham mainstay.
I carefully unwrapped my Chilli Cheese and inside I found a compact looking burger which looks as though it has been executed perfectly. For me, it seems like The Tavern is pitching itself as a dirty burger destination while retaining its solid reputation of finesse and great tasting food.
And make no mistake… this is a fantastically great burger. Very, very good!
The beef patty (4oz here but you can double up for an additional £2.50) is top quality. Buttery, fairly loosely packed beef, slightly pink and the sort of standard of burger I would expect to see in cities like London or Manchester. Could this be the best burger in Cheltenham? It’s certainly a very strong contender!
I absolutely loved the old burger they used to do at The Tavern (I had plenty!) but this improves on it further. The blend of meat they have gone with for the reload is up there with some of the very best I’ve encountered.
That Green Chilli Slaw is a truly fabulous invention and a thing of beauty. The guy who was looking after me today (exceptional service by the way) even asked the Chef to write down the components for me.
I’m quite proud of myself that I picked out a fair few of them too. But not to give spoilers and the recipe away, it mainly consists of savoy cabbage, green pepper, green chillies, jalapeños and a few other ingredients.
And it’s a magnificent burger topping, with a fresh, spicy, acidic crunchiness which packs a semi-pickled punch to your taste buds. It’s not silly heat, but a lovely warm glow to stave off the winter cold outside. Love it.
The fried pickles (£4) might seem slightly excessive for the price, but my goodness, these are worthy of their spot on the tray as they are simply delectable. You get five or six lightly battered gherkin spears and if you’ve never had the pleasure of trying these make sure you make it your utmost priority to do so soon. Haters of pickles/gherkins need not apply… or maybe you should as these could be a game changer.
The fries served in the brown paper bag are seductively salty and a good sized portion for £3. They are the quintessential accompaniment to any dirty burger and are perfect for dipping in any of the condiments on the table (ketchup, mustard, mayo, Frank’s or ask for Sriracha like I did…)
Back to the Chilli Cheese – if you didn’t read the menu description, you might expect a beef patty topped with a chilli con carne concoction which has been done to death now. I’m so glad Head Chef, James de Jong explored other avenues with this super creation.
The Tavern cheese slice is perfectly melted on-top of the slaw and because of the ingredients used, this also creates a sort of sauce binding it all together which mixes lovely with the hot chilli Sriracha sauce – mm mmm.
I have to confess, I removed the tomato as its just one ingredient I never enjoy. Credit though, I did eat some of the burger with it on and I can see why it is included on the build. It’s just not my thing. Pickles on the other hand work really, really well on here.
Overall, the Chilli Cheese is an extremely tasty and enjoyable dirty burger on the new Tavern reload menu. The 4oz beef patty (cooked to perfection with just the slightest of pink inside) is a real winner and is up there with some of the very best I have had – a real bonus for the people of Cheltenham to have on their doorstep.
The burger itself is a very compact and tidy, precision build with a good choice of bun. Everything looks and tastes incredibly fresh and the quality of the beef shines especially alongside the excellent slaw. It’s pretty much perfect.
With a weekday deal and promise of a monthly special, this is another positive for The Tavern and I look forward to re-visiting my favourite Cheltenham eatery in the coming months and years. In fact, what are we doing for lunch today…?
One more thing. Truly impeccable staff. If you’ve never been or fancy a Tavern reload then I would make sure you get here as soon as you can.