To describe Bath as picturesque is something of an understatement. The honey hued Georgian architecture, the rolling, verdant hills, the soothing, laid back canal life…it’s all here and it’s all very British indeed. There is a thriving tourist industry to match, but sadly finding somewhere unique and interesting to eat has represented something of a challenge for many years, with chain joints permeating the city centre and foodies shooting for Bristol if they’re up for a thorough feed.
The good news for Bathonians is that in recent years, several exciting, independent restaurants have opened up, redressing the balance and putting the city on the map food wise once again. Here’s a rundown of our favourites; our 5 IDEAL restaurants in Bath, England.
THE SCALLOP SHELL
Though nominally a fish and chip restaurant, the Scallop Shell, on Bath’s Monmouth Place, is so much more than that. Opened just four years ago, this place is always packed and it’s easy to see why; fish is sourced sustainably, cooked simply yet thoughtfully, the vibe is cheerful and the service smooth. That’s all you could ask for, right? And though their fish’n’chips offerings are delicious, there’s also whole fish (megrim sole on our last visit) blistered and burnished by the grill, and steamed mussels or clams depending on the catch, which are served swimming in garlic butter and simply unmissable. A top, top place for seafood lovers.
A classy affair with just the right amount of playfulness in the food, Henry’s is another relatively new addition to the Bath dining scene, rebranding the previous space Casanis in 2016, and a very welcome one at that. The space is stripped back but elegant, as is the menu, with just three options for each starters, mains and desserts section, and a thoroughly welcome and equally thoughtful vegetarian menu.
Menu items change according to the season and whim of skilled chef Henry Scott, but quality is all but guaranteed. The cornish crab, mooli and yuzu starter we had was a light delight, arriving on small discs, pretty as a picture and as refined as it sounds. And don’t miss dessert; the chocolate tart served warm and finessed with Sichuan custard is knockout.
BECKFORD BOTTLE SHOP
Beckford Bottle shop on Saville Row (the same street as Henry’s) has only been open for a year (hey we did say the dining scene has changed massively recently) but has made serious waves in that time, picking up a hugely coveted Bib Gourmand award from Michelin and some fawning reviews in the National Press. We certainly concur with that validation; the formula is one so very hip in London right now, of a wine bar which just happens to serve some really enticing small plates.
A recent visit brought with it some superb devilled livers on toast, as well as Bath chaps – slow braised pig cheeks, pressed, breadcrumbed and deep fried – with a rustic, rough apple puree, and a decadent, dark chocolate mousse finished with pumpkin seed. If it’s this good after only a year, we’re very excited for the future here.
THE MARLBOROUGH TAVERN
Finally, something approaching a Bath institution, the Marlborough Tavern opened in 2006 and in terms of the city’s other exciting dining options, is an established foodie destination. The vibe is gastropub done right, with orders taken true pub style at the bar, pints from the tap and smashing, refined British pub grub from the kitchen. In summer, a pitch in the beer garden in the shadow of the Royal Crescent is just lovely. Equally, a space next to the roaring open fire in winter is pretty special, too. Sunday lunch here just feels right.
South East Asian cuisine isn’t particularly well represented in the city, but Noya’s Kitchen is doing its best to change that with fresh, zippy Vietnamese food served at a variety of special events, lunches and supper clubs. We’re particularly here for Pho Wednesdays, when bowls of the famous noodle and broth dish are devotedly served.