The transformation of Bath’s restaurant scene, from one dominated by chains and tea rooms to one of the South’s culinary powerhouses, has been nothing short of astounding.
Just a decade ago, only those hungry punters craving a Cornish pasty, sausage roll or scone would have been truly satisfied, but recent years have seen a slew of independent, forward-thinking eateries opening in the city, and we’re very much here for it.
No, really, we’re very much here, strolling the honeyed streets in search of a good feed. If you’re in the city centre doing the same, then you’ve come to the right place; here are the best places to eat in Bath.
Upstairs At Landrace
Ideal for light yet generous plates of produce-led Britalian dishes…
Yep, we said that many of Bath’s best restaurants are relatively recent additions to the city, and this is certainly true for Upstairs at Landrace, which emerged during lockdown, found its feet fast, and, thankfully, appears to be sticking around for the long haul.
Housed above the excellent Landrace Bakery, which specialises in sourdough bread made using stoneground British grains, the kitchen up that winding staircase is led by former Brawn and Quality Chop House chef Rob Sachdev, who brings a similarly straightforward sensibility to the cooking here.
The menu comprises a handful of snacks and starters and a couple of larger plates, with the cheddar fritters from the former section already reaching something close to cult status. It’s easy to see why; pillowy, giving and nestled under blankets of finely grated local cheese, they are seriously, seriously addictive. One plate simply isn’t enough.
From the larger dishes, deceptively simple, perfectly-cooked portions of fish are paired with hyper-seasonal veg; on our last visit a tranche of brill with violet artichokes and braised white beans was superb. For something packing a touch more heft, rump steak or pork chops regularly appear on the ever-rotating menu.
Desserts are exemplary, with the skills of the bakery below on full display. Should there be a tart on the menu – we’ve enjoyed both Amalfi lemon and Pump Street chocolate in recent months – order it.
All in all, Upstairs at Landrace manages to be both light and breezy, and eminently satisfying. Right now, it’s our favourite restaurant in Bath, and long may that continue.
PS. You’re in for a real surprise when you visit the toilet!
Address: 61B, UPSTAIRS, Walcot St, Bath BA1 5BN
The Scallop Shell
Ideal for Marco Pierre White-approved fish and chips…
Though nominally a fish and chips restaurant, the Scallop Shell, on Bath’s Monmouth Place, is so much more than that. Opened seven years ago and already superchef Marco Pierre White’s favourite restaurant in the area, 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’chip offerings are certainly delicious, there’s also a regularly updated menu of other, arguably more interesting, options; whole fish (megrim sole on our last visit) blistered and burnished by the grill, steamed mussels or clams depending on the catch, both served swimming in garlic butter, smoked sardines on toast… You get the picture.
All in all, it’s a top, top place for seafood lovers and one we can’t stop returning to for our fix of fresh fish.
Address: 22 Monmouth Pl, Bath BA1 2AY
Yak Yeti Yak
Ideal for intimate Nepalese dining…
A Bath institution and a restaurant of much seniority compared to many of the others on our list, Nepalese restaurant Yak Yeti Yak is one of the city’s longest serving restaurants for a reason.
Head down the staircase to this inviting, stone-cobbled room and – immediately after you’re hit with the intoxicating aroma of incense and black cardamom – you’ll be met with a warm welcome like you’re one of the family. Generous portions of intricately spiced, instantly-likeable Nepalese dishes follow.
Though the vibe is certainly snug and intimate here, the cooking certainly isn’t what you’d call ‘homely’; there’s some real flair on display in the nimble but keenly seasoned momos, whilst the signature Yak Yeti Yak chicken – inspired by Katmandhu’s hole in the wall bars – is delicate and sophisticated in flavour.
Don’t miss the regal, saffron-infused Kesariko dhai – a yoghurt dish with origins in the kitchens of Himalayan royalty – which sends you on your merry way back up that flight of stairs and onto street level a very satisfied diner indeed.
The restaurant also runs the YYY Foundation, which does excellent work on long-term community projects in Nepal, including raising money for women’s hygiene products and contributing to the rebuilding of several primary schools. Do check it out.
Address: 12 Pierrepont St, Bath BA1 1LA
Chilli Family Noodles
Ideal slurping bowls of spicy, nourishing noodles…
You wouldn’t perhaps expect to find a bowl of seriously nourishing, Sichuan-pepper laden noodles in a tightly-packed dining room tacked onto the back of a public toilet…
Scrap that last sentence; that’s exactly where you might expect to find a bowl of seriously nourishing noodles were you in one of the worlds street food capitals such as Guangzhou or Bangkok, but Bath, let’s be honest, isn’t exactly known for rugged, rough and ready dining.
That’s what makes Chilli Family Noodles all the more special. Here, and despite what at first appears to be an expansive menu, the choices are simple; choose between stewed beef, minced chicken, spare ribs or tofu, choose from flat, fat or thin noodles (or rice), and prepare for a mouth-numbing, lip-tingling bowl of pure heaven, and all for just £7, whichever way you choose to fill your bowl.
Though the restaurant name and menu quite rightly steer you in that direction, regulars to Chilli Family Noodles will know that the real highlights lie in the ‘something extra’ section of the menu, with the mouth-watering chicken (served cold) a real winner whether you’re looking for something refreshing in summer or nourishing in winter. It really ticks all the boxes.
And with a row of wok-burners out back, you know you’re in for that all-important ‘hei’ from the stir-fries, too. Mine’s a pak choi with extra garlic, if you’re getting them in.
Do be aware that the restaurant only takes cash, though you’ll be very well fed indeed for under £20 for two (there are several cash points just across the road).
Address: 1 Dorchester St, Bath BA1 1SS
Facebook: Chilli Family Noodles
Ideal for a grown-up menu of the UK’s finest wild fish and game…
This relatively new addition to Bath’s burgeoning dining scene from Mike Robinson, co-owner of London’s only Michelin starred gastropub, the Harwood Arms, might already be the best restaurant in the historic Somerset city.
Having opened in the late summer of 2020, following the first national lockdown, the Elder has found its groove immediately, with a focus placed firmly on locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and a menu that showcases the best game and wild fish of the region. Considering Bath’s position an hour from the coast and with good access to the UK’s largest fish market, Brixham in Devon, as well as its proximity to Quantock Hills, where wild deer roam, it feels like the menu writes itself here.
But that would be doing a disservice to the intricate, respectful cooking on show at the Elder; there’s some serious thought going into these dishes. The Dorset crab tart is a revelation, but even better is the Muntjac deer tartare on brown butter crumpet, which is a stunning piece of work. Leave room for the desserts, if you can; the seasonal fruit souffle (raspberry on previous our visit) is faultless.
And if that wasn’t enough, the restaurant has recently opened its very own oyster bar, with freshly shucked native oysters served on their gorgeous, south facing terrace. Well, it would be rude not to, right?
Address: 2-8 S Parade, Bath BA2 4AB
Ideal for the best Vietnamese food in the South West of England…
Vietnamese 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.
You know when you’ve eaten one too many beige, protein-defined meals? In a sometimes beige, often protein-defined city, Noya’s the place to head for some respite.
In the summer, see if you can get a seat out in the popular garden; sunny, pretty and decorated with colourful parasols, it’s the ideal place to be on a summer’s day. The staff know their bun cha from their bun bo hue and are as charming as they come. You’ll leave here feeling happy, content and with a spring in your step.
Address: 7 St James’s Parade, Bath BA1 1UL
The Beckford Bottle Shop
Ideal for fine wines and the perfect drinking food…
Beckford Bottle shop on Saville Row has only been open for four years (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 a handful of years on the Row, we’re very excited for the future here.
We can’t wait to try the soon-to-be-opened sister restaurant, The Beckford Canteen, which is slated to serve its first dish in early January 2023.
Address: 5-8 Saville Row, Bath BA1 2QP
Ideal for a light-hearted atmosphere and gentle re-interpretations classic British fare…
Part of the same acclaimed restaurant group as the Beckford Bottle Shop from just a few paragraphs previous and just a few yards up the road, Beckford Canteen has only been open for just shy of a year, but it’s already become a fixture of (admittedly, increasingly predictable) national restaurant reviews and and awards.
To be fair, it’s easy to see why Beckford Canteen is enjoying such precocious praise. First off, the dining room (set in a former Georgian greenhouse) is airy and easy-going, with plenty of window seating for watching the hustle and bustle of Bartlett Street go by. Service here, as with the bottle shop north up Saville Row, is flawless, cheery and mellow, a great encouragement to settle in for the afternoon.
The menu echoes this light-hearted atmosphere, with gentle re-interpretations of British classics like a sweet and verdant pea and mint soup, and the restaurant’s already iconic rarebit crumpet ticking all the right boxes. Better still is the pork jowl terrine, ensconsed in a translucent, giving jelly that tastes of the best ham hock stock.
With every bottle on the tight but carefully composed winelist also available by the glass – the restaurant’s house Picpoul de Pinet, at £7.50, is crisp and refreshing – this is a meal that needn’t break to bank, too, the inclusivity of the ‘canteen’ moniker feeling wonderfully fitting.
Address: 11-12 Bartlett St, Bath BA1 2QZ
Ideal for small plates you won’t want to share…
Ignore the terrible name. Shut your eyes to the danger that William Sitwell might be lurking at an adjacent table. Brave the confusing website, where information is hard to come by, and instead succumb to the superb food being put out by the Gaff.
Opened earlier this year by Danielle Phillips and Dan Saunders, whose restaurant of the same name in Abergavenny is in the Michelin Guide and named in the top 50 restaurants in Wales, the vibe here is laid back but refined, the Gaff’s open kitchen a hive of frenetic activity.
The menu is prosaically divided into fish, meat and vegetable dishes, all of which have a vaguely Mediterranean bent with the odd East Asian and Deep South flourish. On our recent visit, a fillet of hake, firm through a gentle salt curing and served over a tangle of chorizo, white beans and red pepper, was a highlight; certainly at the top end of salty, but full of umami and piquancy, equally.
Veg plates certainly aren’t an afterthought, with the Gaff’s take on the now ubiquitous charred hispi much better than many of the increasingly limp and half-hearted versions elsewhere. This one arrives with each layer blackened until sweet, glazed, and dressed with chimichurri. It’s a real riot of flavours and the best thing on the menu.
A word on the restaurants Sunday Sessions, which are already becoming one of the most coveted tables in Bath. For £45, and for a 90 minute sitting, you can enjoy free flow mimosas, delicate little snacks and a roast dinner of your choosing, all with live music buzzing on around you. It’s a gloriously chaotic event, and we just love it.
Address: 29 Milsom St, Broad St, Bath BA1 1BZ
Ideal for Japanese fare inspired by Tokyo’s backstreet yakiniku joints…
Another hugely welcome new addition to Bath’s dining scene, Robun opened in 2021 on George Street to immediate acclaim. Honestly, it felt like the kind of place the city had long been missing; a funky, modern Japanese joint instead of usual high street, fridge cold sushi chains.
Named after the 19th century author Kanagaki Robun, whose book Seiyō ryōritsū is credited with having the first documented ‘curry rice’ recipe and with introducing Western barbecue to Japan, Robun is inspired by Tokyo’s backstreet yakiniku joints, where grilled, glazed sticks are always turning over glowing white bincho-tan charcoal, and light, crisp beers are always flowing over increasingly baudy conversation. It’s a match made in heaven, and one that translates surprisingly well to the salubrious streets of Bath.
Lunch deals are a little lighter but just as enjoyable, with bento boxes and sushi and tempura spreads several steps up on the usual meal deals from the city’s adjacent supermarkets.
Ideal for Bath’s best wood-fired pizza…
This little corner of South West England isn’t too blessed with seriously good pizza options, so we’re ending our tour of our favourite restaurants in Bath in The Oven, which is, in our minds, the premium pizza spot in the city.
The oven in question, central to the restaurant not only in name but in its prime position in the dining room, is manned by pizzaioli Fabrizio Mancinetti, with the pizzas here loosely based on the Neapolitan canotto style.
Translating as ‘dinghy’ and defined by their imposing, inflated crusts, the dough at The Oven boasts the requisite heft to carry some generous toppings, whether that’s the Sicilian sausage, mushrooms and toasted walnuts, or the goat’s cheese, caramelised red onion, rocket and pine nuts. Yes, nuts on a pizza; trust us, it works.
Address: 3 & 4, Seven Dials, Saw Cl, Bath BA1 1EN
And on that particular subject, do check out our tips on where to eat the best pizza in Bath. Mine’s a margherita, mate!