You know when a new movie comes out and everyone’s seen it but you, yet everyone gets a little hyper about how it’s a ‘must see’ thing? When you finally get to go and see it, you’re left not with the enjoyment of the movie to remember, but a stumped wonderment to what all the hype was about…
Well when someone who appears really down to earth says that not only does he spend so much time in a restaurant that and even a good chunk of his future book ‘The Dark Tourist’ was actually written in there – you start simply wondering why? Furthermore, this person, who is known for his globetrotting adventures, then claims it’s his favourite place to eat in the world…. You just gotta go look.
Over the last 20 years I, like many, have eaten in a vast array of restaurants. Because of my work I’ve been lucky enough to eat in some pretty amazing places all around the world.
I must say though, I’m not any kind of culinary expert. I’m simply someone who likes to eat good food without pretence and formality.
Yes, I’ve eaten in places from the Hotel du Cap in France, London, Hong Kong, Dubai, Riyadh and so many other grand and not so grand places, but few places leave me with any true wish to return.
‘So, just where is this amazing place?’ you ask. Knightsbridge? Chelsea, even? No! It’s in an arcade in Cirencester!
I often pass through Cirencester on my way to visit my mother in Witney, so I decided to pop in, give the place a look and have a bite to eat.
I must confess I have been passing through Cirencester on and off most of my life but had never really got out and had a walk around. This typical and some say ‘quaint’ Cotswold market town is a centre for Agriculture, Equestrian, Celeb shopping and so much more. Indeed, it’s one of the few places in the UK that while you may not know anyone there, you’ll certainly recognize more than just a few people from the world of TV, Film, Media and even Royalty while strolling around.
Freezing and passing rows of Range Rovers and Discoveries parked on Market Square, I finally walked into the Corn Hall and ‘Made by Bob’.
The first thing you notice when you arrive is that it doesn’t look like an ordinary restaurant. It has the look of a cross between a sushi bar and a comfortable Cotswold restaurant but with a modern shop like front.
As you walk in you immediately feel comfortable. It’s warm, inviting and straight away a smiling face welcomes you and offers you a seat.
The layout is a centred open plan kitchen with a high bar around it offering places to sit and watch the food being prepared before you and also tables around the edges. It’s not a huge place, yet it’s not too small either, put simply – it’s just right, a size that strikes the perfect balance of cosy and roomy.
The menu was straight forward with what I call ‘real’ food and offered up as a simple sheet of card. I don’t mean that to sound cheap in any way, it’s just that the simplicity actually has a real quality about it.
Having not had one for a while, the person who recommended the place also recommended the steak – I needed no further prompting as I’m not a fish eater etc. and love my steak!
The atmosphere is hard to describe, everything was casual and inviting; the lighting was just right, the guests were simply enjoying the food and chilling out with a newspaper, laptop or friend. But the standard of customer service was brilliant; helpful, non intrusive and everyone smiled in a nice way – not the usual type of fast food ‘Hi happy happy’ way.
I think the best way to put it is that the service was of the type you get in the most expensive and exclusive restaurants, without the pretentiousness that unfortunately is typical of that calibre of service.
I watched my rare steak being cooked by Bob while I drank my Latte from a tall glass (which I must add was the perfect strength) and was interested that he cooked if for longer than I would have, yet he had far better results than I ever had.
I don’t quite know what he did, or how he did it, but I was stunned at the result, it melted on my tongue, full of flavour and left me with a huge broad smile.
Later I spoke to Bob about how he cooked steaks and how I had come to be sitting his restaurant. He told me about a new website being created at present.
In the process I said “Don’t get me wrong, the place has an atmosphere all of its own, but it isn’t where I’d bring someone for a meal in an evening”, he smiled and said “That’s good, because we shut at 6:30pm”.
Throughout this conversation he continued cooking away and what was almost surreal to me (not knowing anything about being a chef) is how he did so many things at the same time, cooking, preparing and talking.
I left ‘Made by Bob’ pleasantly surprised and with a full tummy and a big smile. My wallet had not been emptied. I had been treated and spoken to nicely, with respect and served perfectly. I had eaten alone and had not felt self-conscious at all (though with my face, I got over self consciousness shortly after birth) and how much did I pay for my large steak meal and copious coffees? £21.40!
So, if you’re in or near the Cotswolds, in need of sustenance, care and the kind of service you would expect to find in only the most expensive establishments – then I can heartily recommend ‘Made by Bob’. It is one of the best places I have ever eaten and most certainly the nicest food and customer service I have ever found in the UK!
Made by Bob: Friendly, down to earth, reasonably priced with absolutely no compromise on quality!
Special thank you to Bob and his great staff, not to mention the food. And of course Dom Joly who directed me to and insisted I try Made by Bob – I didn’t regret it at all.
Made By Bob, Unit 6, The Corn Hall, 26 Market Place, Cirencester. Tel: 01285 641 818.