If you can picture the scene, it is Sunday Lunchtime and you fancy a proper Sunday Roast and more importantly you fancy somewhere different and somewhere you are sure to get some pleasant surroundings. Well last Sunday I found just the place.
I took a drive around Swindon, to the gateway of The Cotswolds. Along the old A419 into Blunsdon, I was just meandering. I was not sure where I was going, I was just following my nose (and the big brown hotel signs).
If you have never been to this hotel let me quickly explain, Blunsdon House Hotel is a family run hotel, with conference facilities and a fitness club (with a pool), it has its own Golf course and a helicopter pad (if you want to take the whirly bird out) and all of this is just on the outskirts of Swindon.
If you follow the signs, you pull into a road called The Ridge and the hotel is just on the left. It has an impressive entrance and driving past this into the carpark, you get a sense of the size of this place. It has a huge carpark with electric car charging spaces – not many places can boost about this bonus.
Getting out the car and walking across the carpark, I decided to use the fitness club entrance and I am so glad that I did. As I entered the hotel I walked along a warm glass entrance corridor and looked to my left. It was at that time the clouds parted and the sun came streaming through. I could see across the golf course, the fields and well into the Cotswolds. The pure beauty had me staring and not able to move for a few seconds.
Sorry back to the review, I wandered towards the bar area and saw a menu for The Flame Restaurant. As it was out on display I decided it might be worth taking a look and I am glad I did.
I was expecting to write off eating in there as being too expensive but again I was surprised to see they did a 3 course Sunday lunch menu for around £16, my mind was made up. Entering the restaurant I was greeted by a server almost immediately and was shown to a table. As I walked through I could see a queue forming against the carvery section and knew it was a popular choice. There seemed to be a few conferences on as well, being it was a Sunday I was not expecting this but well done for those who wanted to work on a day off?
So the restaurant, it is an impressive space, lots of open space and high roofs making it light and airy. Due to large crowds from the conference, I was expecting it to be noisy and as some of you may know I like a quiet bite, however if I am honest the groups of people did not make a different to the level of noise, it was quiet and peaceful.
I told the waiter I would have the 3 courses and was told there was soup, a cold starter, mains (the carvery) is self-serve and the desserts are next to the starters. Once I was left on my own, I took a quick cursory look around the room and was still impressed with the space. I checked and saw there was free Wi-Fi, logging in I found it was pretty quick as well. Left to my own schedule and once settled, I made my way to the cold counter and filled a plate with cold meats and salad. This is not your usual ‘free salad’. There were good cuts of meat, pork pies and other savouries to keep the taste of the green stuff to a minimum. As I walked away, I was able to eye up the desserts so I could make a choice as to whether I was going to fill my main plate or leave a little room for something else.
Once I finished the salad, the staff was keen to take the plate away and I then joined the queue for the carvery. Now these are my only complaints about the meal and I’ll make them now, only one server for a Sunday lunchtime carvery with a conference on. The queue was a little slow and I could tell the lad behind the counter was rushed of his feet. Still when I go to the front I asked for the turkey and he carved a generous lump off and dropped it on my plate. Working my way along the hot plate there were plenty of veg, gravy and Yorkshire puds out, the veg was a little dry as it had been left for a while under the heat lamps and needed turning or refreshing but with the gravy, I was not really going to notice it.
Again making my way back to the table I walked past the groups of people from the conference, just to see how loud they were. They were all talking, laughing and having a great time, as I walked away the sound dropped and again I was impressed with the acoustics of the place.
The main course was good, apart from needing the gravy to aid the dried veg but it filled the gap and the server was more than happy to clear the plate away as soon as I had finished. Next the desserts, no point waiting so off I went again. There was everything you needed there, fruit, cheese and sweet stuff. A healthy lump of cake fell onto my plate and back I went to my table to enjoy the third and final course.
Now, I could barely finish the pudding, due to the amount of food that had been on offer, but for this review I forced it down to make sure I could give it a full and proper account. Once finished, again the plate was cleared away and I was left to enjoy the surroundings and take it easy, letting the meal go down.
What I really enjoyed about this experience was that I was not rushed, the staff were great, all very young, keen to keep things moving if needed but no one was rushing and I felt comfortable being there. When I felt ready I made my way over to the till and someone was there waiting, paying was no hassle and I walked out of the restaurant feeling I had a good meal. Before making my way back to the car I had a little walk around the inside of the hotel. Again if you have never been it is a fascinating place. There were loads of little bars, nooks and crannies everywhere. The history of the building was on the walls and staff was keen to talk about the place. I was told there was a walk around the golf course, it is about a mile and had I known I would have brought a change of shoes, as a walk after dinner would have been perfect.
I have to admit, this was a very pleasant way to spend a few hours in a great location on a Sunday lunchtime and it was a shame I did not know about the little walk before hand, otherwise it would have been a perfect Sunday afternoon.
My top tip, other than take your shoes, grab a coffee or a drink and sit in the glass foyer by the health club and watch the world go by before lunch as this will put you in the mood for the rest of the week.
Thanks as always to our roving bon viveur Vincent Penne for his review