Ringing the changes at The Bell at Langford
Getting a review from influential restaurant critic Giles Coren in the first month of opening was a double-edged sword for the owners of The Bell at Langford.
“It was without a doubt the best and worst thing that will ever happen to us,” laughs Peter Creed, who opened the pub with Tom Noest last December.
“We are both diehard Coren fans, and couldn’t believe we got such an incredible review from him so early on. We had been open for five weeks when it came out and the impact the review had on trade was phenomenal.
“Our Sunday lunches filled up for the next three months and we were doing the same number of covers on a Tuesday lunch that we had been doing on a Saturday.”
Not that Peter and Tom aren’t used to working in busy and successful establishments. Prior to The Bell, Peter was part of the team that launched The Lucky Onion Group, playing a crucial role in their growth for nine years.
Tom joined Peter at The Wheatsheaf in Northleach, where he covered all front of house duties as well as spending time in the kitchen. He then moved to Made by Bob in Cirencester to gain more cooking experience.
Peter says: “We got on like a house on fire and we often went to London on our days off to go and try out a new place that had opened or somewhere that we hadn’t visited before. We actually decided to go into business together over a long lunch at our favourite restaurant, St John.”
The Bell describes itself as a ‘modern country pub’ with an emphasis on its woodfired sourdough pizzas. Apart from pizzas, popular dishes on the main menu include Cotswold IPA rarebit with pickles and soldiers; lamb neck fillet, rainbow chard, garlic and anchovy, and rabbit, bacon and prune pie.
“Food was obviously always going to be a very important part of what we created, but most important was creating a fun and unfussy local pub.
“We wanted our customers to enjoy a comfortable and unpretentious experience that was consistent each time they visited.”
Peter says they wanted to be able to offer good value choices, such as a cheeseburger for under £10, but also give people the option to splash out on things like lobster and the 20oz Boston chop for two.
“We wanted to try and do something different that would make us stand out from the crowd. We both love pizza and find it frustrating that you can’t get your hands on a good one in the countryside.
“The pizza is very popular on the menu, particularly on Sunday nights when we do them all for half price. We make our own dough which we prove over two days before cooking in the Italian wood oven.
“We also use the oven to cook all of our fish, which reacts brilliantly to the high heat, making it crispy but still juicy.”
As they approach the first year since they opened the doors, the ambitious duo have also added eight bedrooms, which have been an instant success.
“We have been really lucky that the rooms have taken off so well since they opened and we have just launched our own sporting agency offering our guests the opportunity to take part in game shooting, deer stalking, fishing and clay pigeon shooting which we hope will be a key factor in driving room sales over the winter.”
Peter Creed and Tom Noest at The Bell at Langford