Home > Russell’s Restaurant – an interview with the man that started it all
“Guests can say they’ve dined on a piece of history”
A few weeks ago, we met with Andrew Riley, the owner of Russell’s Restaurant, Russell’s Fish & Chips and No32 café in Broadway to learn what makes his award-winning eatery unique.
Many of its visitors mistakenly call Andrew ‘Mr. Russell’, unaware that the restaurant was named after Gordon Russell, a prominent figure in Broadway in the mid-1900s. The real Mr. Russell wasn’t interested in hospitality like Andrew, or his father, Sydney Bolton Russell, who bought The Lygon Arms in the early 1900s, around the time that the motorcar was becoming popular. No, Gordon Russell was interested in making furniture and he went on to become one of England’s leading designers in the 1930’s, creating the iconic Murphy Radio Cabinet and the seating for Coventry Cathedral. To pursue his love of furniture-making, Gordon opened a factory in the village, and it was based in what is now Russell’s Restaurant.
Aside from its location in a stunning Cotswold village, the remnants of Gordon Russell’s career are what Andrew says make his restaurant unique:
“The staircase to the bedrooms on the first floor was actually handmade by Gordon Russell himself, and our private dining room contains an impressive wooden cabinet that he made shortly after World War Two. It also holds one of his lovely tables – I guess guests can say they’ve dined on a piece of history!”
Despite having three eateries under his belt, Andrew is very humble and has a good sense of humour. When asked why he decided to open a restaurant of his own, he joked “because I’m unemployable!” His warm and inviting nature is reflected in the restaurant’s interior which glows with Cotswold stone, mahogany tables and chairs, and quirky artwork such as the ‘lobster clock’, which was painted by the restaurant’s senior chef.
Most of the decisions Andrew makes regarding the restaurant are influenced by his staff – “we’re not too proud here and I’m always eager to hear what others think”, he says – including the menu, which Andrew describes as modern British cuisine.
“Our head chef, Jorge, is Filipino so he adds an unusual twist on bog standard English food! One dish that has been inspired by him is our crab spring roll with watermelon, coriander and mango puree.”
Russell’s Restaurant is big on incorporating good quality, local produce into its menu, which changes seasonally. It sources asparagus from the Vale of Evesham, organic beef from Ross on Wye, pork – which is used in its breakfast sausages and those at Russell’s Fish & Chips – from Stow-on-the-Wold and herbs and tomatoes from Worcestershire.
“I’d like to think we’re very sustainable here. Our food waste is sent to an anaerobic digestion plant and turned into fertiliser, we recycle all our glass and cardboard and buy local when it benefits our customers. Even the rapeseed oil we fry our fish and chips in next door is from a company in the Cotswolds; they take back our dirty oil, filter it and run their vehicles on it. It’s all very environmentally-friendly.”
The restaurant serves up an impressive A la Carte menu which, to name just a few of its mouth-watering dishes, includes Cotswold chicken covered in a creamy truffle sauce, buttery lobster, and pan fried Cornish hake which is accompanied by asparagus arancini. The restaurant’s most popular dish is its Sunday roast and they sell about 160 of them every week.
“Lots of people comment on how nice our gravy and Yorkshire puddings are, and the cauliflower cheese is great too.”
While we would advise enjoying this at the restaurant, Russell’s also provides ‘Dine at Home’ Sunday roasts, which are freshly prepared and cooked, but served chilled, so you’ll need to warm them up at home. The ‘Dine at Home’ option came out of the pandemic after Andrew’s staff suggested they make the most of the lockdown at Mother’s Day.
“We’ve had to make lots of changes because of Covid-19 but hopefully these are for the better. We’ve spaced out our tables inside but compensated by adding marquees outside. Two years ago, I couldn’t pay people to sit outside and now they’re paying me! ‘Dine at Home’ has been very popular and we’re considering doing takeaway meals on Valentine’s Day.”
Despite being featured in the Michelin 2021 guide, being the humble man that he is, Andrew stresses:
“I’d rather people don’t know much about our restaurant before they come and visit, that way they won’t build their expectations to high!”
Well, you heard him – don’t take our word for it, book your table at Russell’s Restaurant and try it for yourself!