Tasty mix of past & present

A selection of cakes made by the owner's wife
A selection of cakes made by the owner's wife

There’s something wonderfully restful and bucolic about gazing out over pristine green lawns fringed with tibouchina and crepe myrtle as you eat lunch.

Throw in some history and you have a winning combination. Chorley’s is named after William Chorley who came to the area from the UK in 1883. He named the suburb after Cheltenham in Gloucestershire as it reminded him of his homeland’s gentle green hills and is regarded as the father of the suburb.

Chorley’s sits inside the 105 year-old Cheltenham Recreation Club, the site of many bowling, tennis and croquet tournaments.

“The walls are like a mini museum,” said Chorley’s ebullient new owner Luwis Fernando, originally from Sri Lanka, referring to the tennis racquets and croquet mallets and other sporting gear adorning the walls.

He has nailed the culinary predilections of the locals. “They don’t like foams or reductions – they just want good honest food.”

The day we lunched, a clientele of mostly over 60s suddenly packed this popular little spot around midday and it became clear why he has built the menu around popular perennial dishes – Wagyu beef burger, fish and chips, pumpkin and feta tart, lamb hotpot, smoked salmon tartine, risotto and chicken schnitzel.

Our party chose the fish and chips – lovely fresh fish in a light batter with a side of golden chips, the mushroom risotto which its two recipients declared creamy and mushroomy, and the lamb hotpot, a warming bowl of lamb with winter vegetables in a hearty broth. Pies, scotch eggs, tarts and open melts complete the mains on the menu.

It would have been remiss to skip the dessert, not least as they’re all made by Luwis’ pastry chef wife Teria so we tried a deliciously tangy passionfruit slice, cardamom and rosewater cake which was “a subtle reminder of Morocco”, a Portuguese tart and a moist carrot cake, all accompanied by excellent coffee.

While the coffee, the history, the leafy outlook and the yesteryear memorabilia are undoubtedly draw cards, that parking is on the same level is a big plus too.

There’s seating inside for 32 – but why not sit outside and watch a game of bowls or croquet when the weather warms up?

The lowdown
Where: 60-74 The Crescent, Cheltenham
Tel: 0401 668 980.
Open: 8am to 3pm, Monday to Saturday

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