This funky, all-day brunch lunch eatery on the edge of Stroud oozes warehouse style and serves up the best freakin’ freakshakes ever!
Sometimes you have to look round the edges to find a gem and this is certainly true of the Malthouse Bar & Kitchen. Who would have thought, as you whizz out of Stroud en route to Painswick, Cheltenham, Gloucester, wherever, that lurking in what looks like an industrial estate (albeit an attractive, red-brick Victorian-looking number) would be a blow-out eatery (not to mention a blow-your-mind antiques emporium, but more about that another day).
Housed in a former beer-bottling factory on the Salmon Springs estate just off the A46, The Malthouse Bar & Kitchen is still a young buck – it only opened in spring 2016 – and has the fresh-faced good looks to show it. The interiors give a cool retro nod to early 1990s warehouse style with its bare-brick walls, crane-your-neck-high ceilings and exposed pipes à la Centre Pompidou, and, like the creative funkster it is, on my visit those walls were hung with edgy, giant canvases by local artist Nicola Grellier.
I was probably a bit early for the morning-after-the-night-before, brunch club crowd (sadly, the days when I could roll out of bed at midday are long gone), arriving as I did promptly at 10am opening time, but there was still a bit of a bustle going on with some other, er, older people like me with kids, as well as newbie parents who had probably been up all night but for all the wrong reasons. However, the Hair of the Dog options on the breakfast menu (Bloody Marys, Bellinis, Mimosas) told a livelier story for later in the day. With its regular opening hours from 10am to 5pm (4pm on Sundays and Mondays), it’s a breakfast and all-day brunch venue, but look out for one-off evening events – I imagine it transforms into a thumping, dirty dancing kind of place after dark. The next one coming up is over May Bank Holiday weekend and is a three-day (and night) beer fest of blues, brews and BBQs, with live music and Stroud Brewery ales.
SCOFF & QUAFF
There’s an American feel to the breakfast and all-day brunch menu with the likes of buttermilk pancakes with smoked bacon and maple syrup, hash browns, waffles and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with sourdough bread. Having said that, I opted for The Malthouse, which was pretty much a full English of sausage, smoked bacon, fried egg, beans, grilled tomato, grilled Portobello mushroom, hash brown and black pudding. They took my dietary requirement curve ball in their stride and swapped out the gluten-containing sausage, hash brown and black pudding for an extra fried egg, smoked salmon and avocado. And a sunny, tasty looking plate it was! The eggs were the perfect runny, the bacon the perfect crisp and the tomato and mushroom full of flavour. They source all the ingredients locally and you can tell. My mudlet companion chose the pancakes and pronounced them delicious, which indeed they looked.
The star of the show, however, had to be the drinks. No boring flat whites or macchiatos – not when there were Freakshakes to quaff. It was St George’s Day, so the mudlet opted for a special celebrating the day, while I went for the Health Freak. Guess who’s was nicer?? While I virtuously sipped on almond milk with strawberries and bananas (nice but not naughty), the mudlet tucked into a strawberry milkshake with ice cream and a Victoria sponge cake balanced on top (naughty and very, very nice). The aforementioned Hair of the Dog drinks also sound like winners and would accompany the Malthouse Burger or Buttermilk Chicken Burger on the all-day brunch menu very nicely.
This place is made for kids – big, little, young, old. The menu is very child-friendly, with the Freakshakes a magnet for small people. My mudlet couldn’t finish hers and they kindly packaged it up in a doggy bag without me even asking. There’s plenty of space for toddlers to move around and the high ceilings are great sound absorbers.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: The next time I’m hungover, I’m heading straight to The Malthouse to make it all better. The kids can come as the Freakshakes will keep them quiet until the sugar rush hits them, but by then I’ll have a Bellini coursing through my veins and all will be well with the world. I’d also recommend it as a place to lunch with your bestie (afterwards you could pop into the antiques emporium for a happy afternoon of browsing) or celebrate with a big group, as there’s plenty of space for a crowd.
Not for: There isn’t much of a romantic vibe – no quiet nooks or crannies where you can gaze into each other’s eyes. But, having said that, it could work as a fun first date venue if you want to keep things light.
The damage: Very good value, with my blow-out breakfast only £8 and the pancakes £7.50. The most expensive thing on the brunch menu are the burgers at £10, Freakshakes are £6 and hair-of-the-dog cocktails £7. Yummy looking cakes from nearby Nom Nom Cupcakery are only £2.20.