Review: The Bottle of Sauce, Cheltenham

The Piggy Smalls

The Piggy Smalls

The Bottle of Sauce is a great big, new, modern pub tucked a short stroll away from Cheltenham High Street. It’s the new partner to a couple of successful pubs in Oxford, The Rickety Press and the The Rusty Bicycle. They’ve hit on a really excellent formula, pared back furnishing, bright colours, bare wood, good beer and a rambling collection of rooms and outside courtyard. Really good beer, actually. I don’t know if they brew their own or just get it badged up, but I was honestly startled at the depth of flavour and funky floral notes in their Dodo Lager.

Yeah, I drank a lager and I liked it.

But as usual we’re here for the food. They’ve got a separate canteen room, but in effect it just had more tables than the rest of the place; food is ordered at the main bar and served wherever you’ve found to sit. Interestingly, back in Oxford they experimented with life as a gastropub and reached the heady heights of a Bib Gourmand, before deciding that they really and truly just wanted to run a brilliant pub with food on the side. And so the menu is a mixture of burgers and pizzas. But let me tell you, their burgers are friggin’ excellent.

I ordered the Piggy Smalls, an April special but they’d be nuts not to repeat it (with variations). Massive helping of spicy pulled pork, moist and delicious, with the exceedingly black and splendid BBQ sauce of the house. Stabs of pickle mixed in there too, and the bun was fine and just about held together around the glorious mess. Maureen’s burger was just a splendid piece of beef. Cooked medium, no pink left (hey, no gastro!) but still very moist and – most winningly – tasting very richly of powerful beef. Good chips. Phew, that’s enough adjectives. I’m spent.

So, the food is filthy and good. But this was a pub on Thursday night, the music was loud, the crowd was too, and we had to shout at each other over the table to discuss the deliciousness of the burgers. Just so you know. We’ll definitely find our way there for lunch some day, brunch too probably, but only of an evening if we’re really in the mood. Hey, no gastro.

No gastro at the Bottle of Sauce

No gastro at the Bottle of Sauce

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