Cotswolds review: The Vault
16 September 2016
The olives with it are exceptionally good, too – cracked to let the zesty, slightly spicy marinade permeate, but with the stone left in to keep them firm and juicy.
Are cocktails and fusion tapas a winning combo for the couple behind the Hog at Horsley? Hannah Bellis visits Nailsworth to find out
Generally I’m a pretty adventurous diner. Watching MasterChef, it’s those edgy, will-it-work? combos that have John Torode all concerned that I want to taste. But, when it comes to Spanish food, I’m a purist. My parents have lived in Madrid for over 20 years, and I’ve picked up many of the prejudices of their generation’s Madrileno friends – simple flavours, paprika, pork and potatoes. Still, when Crumbs Cotswolds asked if I wanted to try the new tapas bar in Nailsworth from the couple behind the venerated Hog at Horsley, it was a no-brainer.
The Vault is housed in an old bank building on George Street, across the road from Hobbs House Bakery. I visited on an early Tuesday evening, five weeks after it opened. So far The Vault has been embraced by the ladies of Nailsworth for its cocktail menu – they’re tempted in not a little by the 10% discount that groups of 10 or more get. We sampled their Nailsworth Bramble (£7.50), with crushed blackberries, lime and Bombay gin, in the alfresco courtyard on a bench made from slabs of a yew tree that fell nearby. “I’m planting lavender behind, so you sit within it,” said owner Greg Saturley.
As the driver, my virgin Bramble was refreshingly aromatic – imagine the whole fragrant experience had we been surrounded by lavender bushes, too!
Inside, the bar is a giant copper-topped mecca, where diners sit on an overlooking mezzanine, strewn with sunlight. The menu offers around 16 tapas dishes, served as they are ready. Two per dinner are suggested. We immediately ordered six, but I wanted to make a point of checking out both traditional and fusion dishes (a fine excuse). First out are crispy rice black pudding cones (£6.95). Not traditional, but the morcilla flavour comes with hints of cumin that my other half, Foxy, loved. The home-carved Iberia ham (£9.95) is sliced thin enough to melt in the mouth. The olives with it are exceptionally good, too – cracked to let the zesty, slightly spicy marinade permeate, but with the stone left in to keep them firm and juicy.
Next up was marinated octopus carpaccio (£8.95), served with sliced potato and paprika oil that brought the joys of chorizo to this daring dish. It was beautiful to look at and to eat – served warm, which I was not expecting, but that helped bring out the subtle flavours.
Traditional tomato gazpacho (£4.95) was the exact temperature we expected, but the intensity of flavour took me by surprise – sweet and creamy, with cheesy umami. I ate most of this one.
We were both lusting over the scallops nero di sepia (£9.95). Foxy said the quality of the black squid ink pasta “kicked ass” – it was coated in garlic and Chardonnay cream, and topped with crispy chorizo crumb and three plump scallops. He got two of these (I had eaten practically all the gazpacho and jamon), but the pasta was so good, even without the scallop, I did not feel hard done by. Last dish was the Herefordshire flamenquitos – beef rolled with Cheddar and Serrano ham, served with ‘Hog chips’ (£8.95).
This was the only dish that didn’t do it for me; it was a bit heavy, perhaps, for this late in the meal, but Foxy loved them, so maybe these are ones for the boys. The Hog chips were fantastic, though, even after five other dishes.
Never too full for pud, we shared a Catalan creme brûlée, that was not eggy in the slightest, but heaving with lemon notes to make it a refreshingly zesty way to finish our feast.
Have I been converted to fusion tapas? Have I ever! The pasta alone would have done it, and against a backdrop of quality traditional tapas, unexpected mixes did, indeed, ‘kick ass’. The cocktail was epic, too. Next time, he can drive and I’ll have the gin
* The Vault, Waterloo House, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire GL6 0AQ; 01453 833666; thevaultnailsworth.co.uk