Clarence Parade, Cheltenham, England, GL50 3PA, United Kingdom

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Lumiere is centrally located in Cheltenham, just off a main shopping street. It has a modern feel with wooden floor, white walls (except the back wall, which is lavender) and ceiling, and a mix of chairs and banquette benches in cream-coloured leather. On the white linen tablecloths are no flowers, but a single modern, cylindrical white lamp. Other lighting comes from directed ceiling spots, and the overall effect is bright but welcoming. A couple of modern oil paintings adorn the walls, and the restaurant was just about full this evening; there are ten tables in all. The crockery is white and fairly cheap.

The service, from a mix of owner Lin Chapman (her husband is the chef) and an American waitress (whose voice bore an uncanny resemblance to actress Julie Hagerty), was friendly, efficient and seemed to come with genuine warmth. The wine list is just five pages in length, with a quite tight range of prices. The cheapest wine I saw was £23, the costliest white wine just £45. The list draws heavily on the new world e.g.  Eagle Vale Merlot 2004 is listed at £30 (retail price about £11) while a Rustenburg Chardonnay 2005 from South Africa was £33 (an excellent grower, the wine retails in the £15 range). Lin knew her wines and was able to answer questions about them in depth.

A little bowl of chunky soup arrived. This consisted of mushrooms and chorizo with a thick soup base with a warming garlic and spice taste (15/20). Seared diver scallops were timed perfectly and had excellent taste, offered with a smooth celeriac puree with lovely earthy celeriac flavour and a little pot of lemon grass courgette; this was a well-conceived dish whose flavours balanced nicely, well executed (16/20).

Seared wild sea bass was cooked properly, served with a tiger prawn coleslaw that was rather odd, tasting distinctly of apple. A spicy shrimp salsa suffered from chewy small shrimps, though the spices were in control, and there was a presentational dash of coriander sauce which had limited flavour (14/20).

Venison fillet was chargrilled pink and was tender, served with excellent pink fir apple potatoes and a good port sauce. There was a rather unnecessary purse of pasta in which were diced mushrooms roasted with thyme, and unfortunately the pasta was rather hard. The meat was nicely seasoned. The hard pasta drags this dish down to 15/20, but the venison was better than this.

Baked monkfish medallions were cooked well and avoided any hint of chewiness, served with a little cylinder of rice with smoked salmon. This seemed a pretty odd idea to me, while a caper herb butter was a better accompaniment to the fish (14/20).

Both main courses had some rather superfluous vegetables: a single piece of glazed carrot (slightly overcooked), a slice of courgette, a brown mushroom, sweetcorn and a little cooked red pepper; to be honest they would have been better off without these. 

White chocolate rum and raisin cheesecake was prettily presented with a little chocolate ice cream and a sweet biscuit tuile and a few raisins steeped in rum and dipped in chocolate (15/20). Bitter chocolate tart was nicely made with good quality chocolate and was very rich (verging on too much), served with salted caramel ice cream covered with a pointless chocolate tuile that had terrible texture: you could literally fold it (just about 15/20 if I ignore the dismal tuile).


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