Walk through the impressive Tudor archway on Gloucester’s Southgate Street to discover Café René, surrounded by some of the city’s most historic buildings. Situated near the impressive 13th-century Blackfriars priory, the original building is built around a Roman well, which provides a striking feature in the main bar. Pull up a pew and explore the ever-changing selection of real ale, cider, wine and spirits.
The candle-lit dining room is relaxed and inviting. It’s worth visiting just to see the amazing ceiling, which is lined with over 3000 wine bottles. The emphasis at Café René is on providing quality, freshly cooked food through an extensive main menu of seasonal daily specials and an excellent-value lunch menu. Our starters were elegantly presented and satisfying – my hummus with pitta, olives, sunblushed tomatoes and salad garnish was almost a full meal in itself, while my partner’s smoked salmon with wholemeal bread, piquant salsa verde and mixed leaves was equally pleasing.
The main menu boasts a wide selection of choices, including the legendary Desperate Dan burger, which is based on a unique 40 year-old recipe. If you’re feeling particularly hungry, opt for the Very Desperate Dan, made with a one pound beef patty. For lovers of that classic smoky charcoal flavour, the chargrill adds an extra dimension to the medley of juicy steaks and meats available. My rib-eye steak was cooked to perfection, while my partner enthused about her divine chargrilled lamb chops, accompanied by garlic and rosemary potatoes, vegetables and mint sauce.
Desserts feature imaginative twists on old favourites and are definitely not to be missed. The heavenly lemon tart with summer berries, ice cream and a buttery pastry crust comes highly recommended, while the inspired combination of dark chocolate and walnut made for the most indulgent, satisfying cheesecake my partner had ever tasted.
At Café René you can be sure of the exceptional quality and competitively priced food, all served in friendly and welcoming surrounds. Famed for its annual Blues Festival in the summer months and live music on Wednesday and Friday evenings, this vibrant, versatile venue is well deserving of the exceptional reputation it has gained over the years.