I studied in Cheltenham and would often pass The Parrot Bar and Grill. I was always intrigued by its warm Cotswold Stone exterior, wielding individual gold letters. I’d also heard rumour that the Like a Prayer singer, Madonna, used to drink there. There’s probably some truth in this Chinese whisper as the cone-breasted entertainer once checked out the Cheltenham Ladies College for her daughter. As an impressionable student, with hardly any exposure to celebrities in those days, I thought it was pretty cool.
A good few years later, and after learning The Parrot serves Kobe (possibly the best beef in the world) steak, my other half and I decided to give it a try. It’s the only place in Gloucestershire that serves it.
We went on a cold evening and were drawn to the sandy, warm gleam of the building’s outer, like moths to a lightbulb. Inside it was dark but in a strange way, cosy. The interior was different to how I imagined; the bar was in the centre of the room, and looked like something from a film where people rock up to some isolated hotel in the middle of the countryside. The restaurant was to the right of the entrance, on a slightly raised level, with walls painted with a burnt orange colour and furnished with black tables and chairs.
We had the trio of scallops to start. It arrived nicely presented with three scallops wedged on a thick piece of black pudding, surrounded by a circle of pea puree. The scallops were cooked well, slightly crispy with a soft centre. Yet the scallop/ black pudding ratio was completely off-scale and I think it would be more appropriate to have it on the menu as ‘black pudding served with a trio of scallops and pea puree’. Nevertheless, the flavour combinations were good.
Two 8oz Kobe fillet steaks with triple-cooked chips, salad and a side of port and stilton sauce were served as our main. The plates came out hot which meant the salad garnish was warm, wilted and pathetic. That aside, the chips were long, thick and golden; the steak glistening and beautifully charred. When sawing the meat with the steak knife it was so tender that I wouldn’t be surprised if a butter knife could do the same damage. Inside the meat was pink and cooked to perfection. When I popped it into my mouth fireworks went off in my mind, I hardly had to chew and it tasted immense. It is the best steak I have ever eaten.
I love a good sauce, especially if it has stilton in it, but the jug of deliciousness we had ordered remained practically untouched. The steak spoke for itself, I would even go as far to to say it gave a rich and grandiose monologue of self-superiority.
The Parrot was definitely worth the trip for the Kobe fillet steak alone.
The Parrot Bar and Grill is now closed.