Abbey Hotel, N Parade, Bath BA1 1LF. 01225 461603
Last week we were invited to try the cocktails at the Art Bar in the Abbey Hotel then on for food at Koffmann and Mr White's next door.
The Art Bar is just that, a bar with monthly changing art on the walls, which can be bought and is curated to suit the surroundings. In the run up to Christmas there will be a selection of affordable works on the walls to tie in with the Christmas market.
After deciding on an Old Fashioned and a Bramble, we soaked up the atmoshpere and had a quick look at the bar menu. You can order burgers, steaks, croque monsieurs, and salads, as well as small sides such as bowls of fries. The decor is lovely, and there is lots to see. It was buzzing when we were in around 5pm, with hotel guests and members of the public popping in for coffees and meetings.
Once finished we headed across the lobby into the restaurant, Koffmann & Mr White's. We were the first guests in so got to appreciate the decor and the beauty of the room, a lovely feeling of calm without feeling cold. A relaxed informal dining experience awaited.
Two menu options - the Express (2 courses £14.50, 3 courses £17.50) or the A La Carte, with options of dishes from both Mr Koffmann and Mr White depending on your tastes. We ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir and perused the menus. To start we opted for the Escargot a la Bourguignonne (£10.50) and the Loft House Salad (£7.95). Snails are not my thing, but Mr PLB loved them, they were baked with garlic, butter, little croutons and tomatoes. My salad was a large romaine lettuce leaf filled with hard boiled eggs, Wiltshire ham, home made salad cream (I'm making this) and a sprinkling of Gruyere cheese. Both were delicious and we could not wait to get onto the main course!
We ordered Joues de boeuf en daube, grand-mère (braised ox cheek with pomme puree, smoked bacon, carrots and button mushrooms) £18.50, and Marco’s signature fillet steak, consisting of Leaf spinach, woodland mushrooms, toasted sourdough, garlic butter, soft herbs (£32.50).
The flavours of the ox-cheek were phenomenal. Braised for many hours the meat was tender to melting point, in such a rich and flavoursome jus. The pomme puree was the ultimate in indulgent creaminess and buttery flavours, and totally delicious. I could not fault the dish and would happily eat this every night. The steak was cooked to perfection and so beautifully presented. Crispy mushrooms, and soft melting steak made for a taste sensation.
Dessert consisted of the Boxtree Mess with banana and salted caramel (£6.50) and the Tarte au Citron (£5.95). Both rounded off the meal perfectly, and were indulgent enough to satisfy as sweet tooth without being over powering.
We cannot fault our evening at the Art Bar and Koffmann & Mr White's. The service was outstanding from start to finish. Nic looked after us so well and explained all the dishes and answered our questions. There are quite a few new dishes on the menu and the staff clearly understand the ingredients, cooking processes and details inside out, exuding enthusiasm when talking about them. Although this is a French brasserie, do not feel intimidated, all dishes have English descriptions and the staff are happy to help. A big shout out to Gareth for the expertly made cocktails, and Hannah Mc for serving us so well.
This is an experience we would be happy to repeat, and will be booking to go back soon as it's up there as one of our personal favourites now.
5 George Street, Bath, BA1 2EJ. 01225 684733
On an autumnal Sunday afternoon, we headed into town along the canal, to our lunch date at Comptoir+Cuisine across the top of town on George Street. We've been here before, a couple of times, and it's one of our go-to's for an indulgent meal of French tapas and delicious drinks. If you walk by you may not know just how cavernous this place is, from the street you might think it's a small cafe with a shop selling delicious cheeses and goods, but once inside, you are treated to a feast upon the eyes, so much to see and so much to explore. The building goes right through to a back eating room, and has a luxurious champagne lounge downstairs, and a lovely bright dining room upstairs that can also be hired for functions.
If you are not au fait with French dining you need not worry, the staff are totally approachable and happy to help explain anything that you may need some help with. The tapas selections are amazing, baked cheeses, charcuterie boards, as well as burgers, croque monsieur and delicious duck skewers. The baked cheese options pair perfectly with champagne and make for a super indulgent lazy sharing lunch.
We opted for the Raclette (cheesy potato and onion in cream and baked), a burger, escargot, the duck skewer and some fries. We shared everything, and it was truly delicious. We ordered 2 Bloody Mary's to wash everything down, which were perflectly spicy and peppery.
This is a fabulous alternative to going out for a roast on a Sunday (or any day). Chilled and relaxed, with an informal and welcoming atmosphere. There is no pressure to leave, you can graze and keep ordering dishes and drinks throughout the afternoon. A great place to people watch if you get a window seat, as you watch the world buzz by outside whilst relaxing with a drink inside.
The champagne bar is buzzing in the evenings, often with live music or a DJ. They are open all day, and offer breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and evening dining. If you haven't been in before, we highly recommend Comptoir+Cuisine!
33 Milsom St, Bath BA1 1DG. 01225 600127 www.duoboots.com
If you've never heard of Duo Boots, you are in for a treat. Having done ballet for the first 15 years of my life, my calves are more "shapely" than the standard High Street size of boot, and I've struggled to get knee high boots to zip up.
Duo Boots on Milsom Street are the perfect solution and they also help ladies with smaller calves too, in fact they offer the widest selection of calf sizes available, ranging from 30cm to 50cm and foot size EU35 to 43.
Invited in for a fitting, Anna measured my calves (both as they can be different sizes) and I had a good look around the store, picking 3 styles I really liked.
The service was really efficient, I must have tried on about 6 or 7 pairs in different sizes as I have high arches so certain styles work better. I opted for the Brown Brampton (£195) as they look really good with blue jeans (which I wear alot) and have a perfect block heel to help elevate my 5ft 3in height!
The store currently have a sale on offer up to 40% off on selected styles. You can also sign up to their mailing list for news and special offers, and if you are not from Bath fear not, you can measure your own calves and order online!
I've already recommended Duo Boots to family and friends, and it seems there are lots of ladies out there who struggle finding boots that either do up or aren't wellies on their calves!
12/13 Milsom Place, Bath BA1 1BZ. 01225 465907
On Tuesday evening we were invited to Le Vignoble in Milsom place, to sample their menu and wines.
The concept is very clever, you are given a credit card that you pre-load with cash at the till, and it can then be used to dispense wine in a sample, small or medium sized glass. There are over 20 wines in dispensers dotted around the two rooms, as well as bottles available to buy.
The menu is tapas style, and very tasty. We had 3 dishes to share and they were more than enough to fill you up.
We had the baked brie with apricot and honey, the charcuterie board, and the baked tomatoes with blue cheese. There was plenty of bread served with all three dishes, perfect for mopping up the tasty pesto and baked cheeses. With one of us having a white and the other a red wine, the cheeses complimented both perfectly and cut through the richness.
Ona and Diane are so knowledgeable and talk with passion about both the food and the wine. They made us feel incredibly welcome and comfortable, and not at all intimidated by all the wine choices around the room. You might wander through Milsom Place and think this is a wine shop, which it is (you can buy the wine to take away), but there is so much more on offer. In the warmer months, there is a lovely outdoor terrace to enjoy so why not pop in for a glass and some nibbles, you won't be disappointed!
50 Rivers Street, Bath, BA1 2QA. 01225 360017
For Saturday lunch we were invited along to the Chequers to sample their set menu. We used to live almost opposite when we first moved to Bath in 1998, and this pub used to be our local. A lot has changed since then, for both us and the pub. Now owned by the Bath Pub Company the Chequers had a complete over hall a few years ago and really looks the part.
The set menu is available from 12-3pm and 5.30-6.30pm, priced for 2 courses at £16 and 3 courses for £19.50.
We pondered for a while, and chose the Cornish Mackerel and Ham Hock & Belly Pork Terrine to start.
The mackerel packed a punch flavour wise, totally delicious, served with potted shrimps, soda bread and a rich mussel sauce. The ham terrine was complimented beautifully with a raisin puree and crispy toast. The salad had a really tasty home pickled selection of onions running through it that were just the perfect vinegar flavour. After a very short wait our mains were served, Smoked Haddock and Beef Onglet.
The smoked haddock was served with a tasty kedgeree arancini that was just the right level of crispiness and soft inside. Softly boiled quails eggs, spinach and a fragrant and spicy madras butter sauce completed the dish. The beef onglet was served with green beans and a garlic crumb. The Bearnaise sauce was delicious, not overpowering as it sometimes can be, and the handcut skin on fries were perfect.
For dessert we chose the Lemon Steamed Sponge Pudding, and the Dark Chocolate Terrine. Both beautifully presented, one hot one cold. The lemon sponge was so lemony, we could not imagine how so much flavour was packed into it. The fennel pollen custard cut through the citrus, and the white chocolate and lavender flapjack added a totally different dimension to the flavour combination. The Terrine was so deliciously rich, a perfect end to a meal. The lightness of the white chocolate combined so well with the sticky terrine and soft fruit, a definite winner in my book!
Very popular, by the time we left at around 1pm they were filling up and most if not all tables had reservations, so booking ahead would be a good idea. There was a relaxed vibe, and Harriet and Kyle were charming and attentive with their service. Our compliments to the Head Chef Ross and his team who cooked our delicious lunch. Only 5 minutes from town, it's a great lunch (or evening meal) spot, with a restaurant upstairs and options for private dining.
We recommend the set menu, and will be popping back, especially as the weather gets colder as it's a cosy venue. Things have changed since the pub days, but we still love the Chequers.
Ham Green, Holt, Wiltshire, BA14 6PX. 01225 782326
A short 15 minute drive out of Bath and you will find yourself in Wiltshire and the beautiful village of Holt. We arrived for our booking at 6.30pm and the car park out the back was already filling up. We chose a lovely table for two in the side eating area. The pub has been charmingly restored, and has a lovely cosy feeling. Once settled, we were promptly brought our drinks and the menu.
We opted for Crispy Duck Egg (£5.95) and Thai Spiced Crispy Chicken (£6.95) to start. Too tough a choice to decide, we shared both dishes between us.
There is a lovely selection of starters and all reasonably priced. The duck egg had the lightest of crispy coating, and was warm with a perfectly runny yolk, a creamy artichoke and truffle puree complimented it perfectly. The Thai Spicy Chicken was truly Asian in flavour, with chili jam and a fresh slaw. By this point the room around us was full, and we saw some of the other starters pass by and they all looked delicious, and judging by the clean plates they must have been! For mains we went for Pan Fried Cod Loin (£17.50) and the Wild Mushroom and Butternut Squash Risotto (£13.95).
If you are after comfort food, this risotto is for you. Gorgeously creamy and cheesy, with flavoursome mushrooms throughout. The parmesan crisps on top only added to the feeling of total indulgence. One of the best risotto I have had for a long long time and I will be going back to have this again. The cod loin was a deliciously fishy affair. A crispy crust, perfectly tender and moist, with a lemon and cockle butter. Saffron and garlic dauphinoise potato underneath, with samphire to compliment the fish meant a delicious combination and a clean plate.
Although full, we could not resist the dessert menu, as the rest of the meal was so good. A really nice selection to choose from, we ordered the cheese board (£8.50) and the sticky toffee pudding (£6.95).
The cheese board consisted of cheddar, blue and brie, with a really generous cracker selection. We could not finish it all, and would probably share this next time as it's lots for one. The sticky toffee pudding went down well, with warm honeycomb pieces and a clotted cream ice cream, this was voted the best sticky toffee pudding my husband has ever eaten (and that's lots over the years).
There is also accommodation on site, which was fully booked when we were there on a Tuesday night. Based on our experience, booking for food would be essential as all tables were full when we left. There is a really appetising lunch menu if you are passing and feel peckish and we hear the Sunday roasts are legendary too!
"Tollgate Wednesday" covers a different theme each week, such as Italian, Indian and Fish and Fizz. Thursday is "No Corkage" night, where you can take your own wine in with you when you are dining.
In summary, we would definitely recommend the Tollgate Inn. The staff were attentive and extremely welcoming, as well as being very efficient too! The menu is varied and caters for all tastes, including Gluten Free and Vegan.
16 Argyle Street Bath, BA2 4BQ. 01225 807770
Underwood is a charming restaurant and bar on Argyle Street, within throwing distance of Great Pulteney Street and Weir. Upon arrival we were greeted warmly, and offered one of the best seats in the house, overlooking the weir.
We quickly chose the delicious house red to sip on whilst we perused the menu. Thoughtfully created, it was hard to decide, we opted for the Hispi Cabbage with Blue Cheese Dressing (£8.50) and the Mackerel and Quail Egg Salad (£9).
The cabbage had a lovely crisp charred flavour, and the dressing was delicious, just enough to compliment and cut through the bitterness of the cabbage. The mackerel was cold smoked, an intense flavour paired perfectly with the quail egg. For our main course, we opted for Chicken Supreme (£19) and the Rump of Lamb (£22). We also picked a side of Seasonal Greens (£3.50).
The Chicken Supreme was served with a creamy pearl barley, rich and satisfying, with some juicy oyster mushrooms and an artichoke puree. The chicken was moist and flavoursome, with a delicious crispy skin. The Rump of Lamb was placed on top of a potato fondant (delicious) with smoked aubergine and black garlic puree, confit shallots, tenderstem broccoli and a red wine jus. Both dishes were presented immaculately, and looked absolutely stunning. The greens on the side also looked incredibly appetizing, and were soon polished off between the two of us.
Dessert was an indulgent affair. We were so full we decided to share, and went for Chocolate Mousse and a couple of cocktails. We sat back and enjoyed the rain whilst nibbling our final course. On a sunny day you can sit out on their sun terrace, which we plan to do next year.
The cocktail bar is very atmospheric. Mood lighting, dark walls and a cheeky monkey light named Robbie.
We definitely recommend Underwood, perfect for a romantic meal. There are lots of hidden areas and a couple of floors to choose from in this building that is much bigger than it appears from outside. The bar is great for meeting friends for cocktails or pre-meal drinks.
Husband & Wife living in Bath for over 20 years. All views are our own although we do get freebies along the way, which we will always tell you about.