All posts by Melissa Blease

Review: The Elder Restaurant, South Parade

Centuries ago, Beau Nash – Bath’s official Master of Ceremonies – influenced, defined and determined the ‘What’s Hot and What’s Not’ chart in Bath. He died in 1762, but Beau’s legacy lives on in the fabric of the city around us today – and it feels somehow fitting that I’m writing this review on what would have been his birthday.

Walking along the scrubbed-up flagstones to the front of the recently-opened Indigo Hotel – a handsome, ambitious complex that brings 166 luxurious boutique hotel rooms, a private members club, various elegant chill out zones and a stylishly quirky, independently-owned restaurant together under one impeccably refurbished row of Georgian townhouses on South Parade – I couldn’t help but wonder if Beau might be lurking in the shadows, watching a whole new generation of pleasure-seekers investigate Bath’s newest pleasure palace. Some 300-ish years ago, the dynamic dandy would no doubt have been one of the first visitors through the doors… and I’m happy to report, on Beau’s behalf, that I’m guessing he would have chosen not to exit again for many a long, happy hour.

The Elder Restaurant is infused with refined, dignified glamour: one part contemporary gentlemen’s club, one part upmarket hunting lodge, all parts accessible brasserie-style elegance, with window tables offering street views and booths (gotta love a booth!) adding intimate dinner a deux opportunities. Menus are conceptualised by wild food and game aficionado Mike Robinson who works in close collaboration with Head Chef Gavin Edney to curate a neat array that showcases the very, very best locally sourced, seasonal, sustainable produce. Game is at the top of the Elder menu (which explains the hunting lodge décor) but the meat at the heart of the matter in terms of inspiration, execution and presentation is far more Michelin-standard than the hunt-themed ethos suggests. If, however, meat is off the menu for you or a fellow diner, vegetarian and vegan options are readily available on dedicated discrete menus.

Our foray began with an unbidden treat of a rustic, treacly, oven-fresh mini-loaf to tear, share and dip into dinky little mugs of steaming game tea: an intensely-flavoured meaty consommé rich in game stock and Madeira. Following this unexpected opener up with two fish-based starters felt somehow inappropriate, but the fret was wholly unnecessary; nothing – not even that opening, full-on flavour fest – could detract from the inherently sweet, briny delights of Dorset Crab served warm in an impeccably crisp, light pastry case with lemon mayonnaise to add vibrancy and grassy chimichurri for contemporary flair, while a tartare of meaty South Coast bream teamed with smoked eel, cod roe and deeply umami dashi and topped with fascinating squid ink crackers pretty enough to wear as a race day fascinator were both as far removed from the forest as its possible to get.

I continued following the coastal path for mains with a fat, glossy cod fillet fresh off a Mevagissey day boat (as all the best cod is, at this time of year) teamed with salt-baked celeriac, lively pickled onion, juicy little nuggets of bacon and soft, soft lovage all lighting the way to supreme satisfaction, while Mr Pig found his personal nirvana in a dish that bought super-mature sirloin and ale-braised shin of heritage beef together with beef fat hash browns, cruciferous greens and an devilishly bold, glossy Chianti sauce together in perfect carnivorous harmony.

Did we shoot for the dessert menu? Indeed we did – and our aim was flawless: intensely fruity caramelised pear anchoring featherlight mille-feuille, a pool of chocolate sauce with a mirror glass finish and a shot of intensely luxurious vanilla ice cream adding further indulgence; earthy, fruity blackberry tart with more of that ice cream, cleverly balanced by a sprinkling of salted almonds and an exuberant, uplifting blackberry sorbet.

In summary, The Elder is an intelligent, well-considered addition to the Bath food scene. Prices are exceedingly accessible for the quality of the experience (our Friday evening dinner came in at just £45 for three courses) and the overall vibe makes dining in Bath’s newest kid on the restaurant block as convivially congenial as a reunion with an old friend – such as Beau Nash, perhaps? The self-styled King of Bath would most definitely approve…

Review: The Herd, Argyle Street

Throughout the 1970s and most of the 1980s, the very word ‘steakhouse’ shrieked of an experience that lurked only just above ‘burger joint’ (and only then only because it meant eat in rather than take away) in the canon of restaurant categorisations established in food world before ‘casual dining’ became A Thing. The term is, of course, still an effective form of descriptive shorthand today, but the tacky element has, fortunately, long since been lost in translation.

The gleaming, modern shrines to carni-centric delight that exist today are far, far removed from the high street chain steakhouses of yore, where the trademarked logos, grubby carpets and plastic banquettes probably tasted better than the bad beef on the menu did. But while a real, proper steak-related menu focus is indeed something to celebrate, it doesn’t have to come with an overloud clatter and pomp fanfare nor with myriad marketing slogans based around “passion”, “respect” and “TLC” given more menu prominence than the meat at the heart of the matter. The Herd, however, is a textbook example of Everything A Modern Steakhouse Should Be.

This intimate, subterranean bistro skilfully treads that fine line between super-cool and super-cosy with aplomb – think, whitewashed stone walls, chunky furniture, quirky artwork and sparkly lighting, all bang on-trend but not self-consciously so. Staff are efficient, confident and knowledgeable but properly friendly all at the same time, and required social distancing space between tables feels natural rather than ‘brave new world.’

On the menu, the starter route to a sturdy range of impeccably-sourced steak feasts to suit all tastes, appetites and budgets begins with classic opening acts such as bruschetta, garlic and chilli king prawns and chicken liver pate, and ends with familiar treatsome faves such as chocolate mousse, crème brûlée and rice pudding. Chicken, fish, lamb and veggie options are all available too, but given the restaurant’s USP… well, y’know. Or did we? We knew where we wanted to go but didn’t know which route to take. So, we opted for the most satisfying get-out clauses known to restaurant ordering, starting with The Herd Starter Board for two (£18.95): a splendid (and very generous) selection of charcuterie including silky beef fillet carpaccio; a tangle of distinctly non-rubbery calamari; several neat slabs of upper-crust halloumi; an utterly divine chicken liver pâté… and all the lovely frills and frippery (great bread; super sauces/pickle; etc) that make such an experience complete.

Our loved-up sharing theme continued into mains with the steak Sharing Platter for two (£49.95), which brings ribeye, sirloin and fillet together in perfect harmony and takes the concept of a sublime steak-out for two to another level altogether. We got saucy with both béarnaise and a mushroom and brandy medley to slather across our meat feast and added a couple of big, fat king prawns for surf’n’turf good measure, while the twice-cooked chips and huuuuge homemade onion rings that come as standard with all the steaks are about as far removed from ‘standard’ incarnations of the genre as you can get. There was T-bone on the menu and massive Porterhouse, too – when we’re not feeling quite so magnanimous regarding sharing, I know where Mr Pig will be heading when we next follow our noses to The Herd. But hey, there were still desserts to come, which we kept all to ourselves (oh okay, I let him have a little bit of my soft, silky milk chocolate mousse served with a chunky white chocolate edible spoon, and helped myself to a sample of his brûlée-topped, date infused Madagascan vanilla rice pudding, plus a shovelful of ginger ice cream.)

And all the while, I couldn’t help but ponder the fact that this little piggy was a vegetarian until around the age of 30. How times change, eh? The Herd brings us all bang up-to-date while proving that, even today, not all steakhouses are equal.

Oktoberfest at the Seven Tuns (Chedworth) Friday 23-Saturday 24 October

Glorious, award-winning gastropub the Seven Tuns (Chedworth) is bringing a little bit of Oktoberfest magic to the Cotswolds courtesy of a mini Oktoberfest from Friday 23-Saturday 24 October.

The two-day event will feature special Oktoberfest-themed menus wrought from locally sourced, seasonal produce (and, of course, beers – including a Bavarian tankard range – to compliment the food) served at your table at an Oktoberfest-themed dining and seating area complete with log burners to guarantee a cosy experience.

Our Oktoberfest-style celebration is not just about speciality beers and locally crafted ales – it’s also about celebrating good wholesome food made with local and seasonal produce,” says the pub’s co-owner Simon Willson White. “This year has been a tough year for everyone, so this is the perfect combo for a covid-compliant knees up with a difference. If we can’t travel to Germany then let’s bring a bit of Bavaria to Chedworth!”

In the Seven Tuns kitchen throughout the year, head chef Tom Conway’s passion for sustainability and sourcing seasonal produce has seen him working with local suppliers with a genuine ‘field to fork’ ethic. Food and wine/beer pairings championed by Simon play a key part in the pub’s ethos, and Simon and Tom’s efforts have combined to turn this once run-down 17th Century Cotswold pub into a destination dining mecca.

So… are you ready to Oktoberfest in fine Cotswold style? For more information click here or call 01285 720630 to make that all-important, essential reservation.

Grüß Gott, piggies!

Ping at Home

When is a ready meal not a ready meal? When it’s a freshly prepared, ready-to-roll ready meal extravaganza curated by none other than MasterChef winner Ping Coombes, available to click’n’collect from Larkhall Butchers.

The Ping At Home selection of Malaysian curries, side dishes and more launches this week and orders (which must be placed by 6pm on Tuesday) will be ready to collect Friday 9 October. Main courses come complete with rice unless stated, and all the food comes chilled and ready to heat, following really simple instructions. The food has a fridge shelf life of 4 days and main dishes are also suitable for freezing, so you can plan ahead and stock up.

If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with our Twitter feed, you can’t fail to have noticed that, last Friday evening, we feasted on smooth, creamy, flavour-laden Nyonya Chicken Curry featuring chunks of velvety chicken and silky little cubes of potato bathed in a tantalising, aromatic coconut sauce, accompanied by fluffy jasmine rice, crispy fritters for texture and crunch and rainbow-hued pickled vegetables that cut through the creaminess of the curry, further upping the umami ante. Portions were generous (to say the least!), the whole heat’n’eat process took no more than 10 minutes and… well, put it this way: we’re ordering all over again next week.

This week’s menu brings Penang Beef and Peanut Curry (inspired by Ping’s family holidays to Malaysia) and/or Chickpea, Roasted Squash and Spinach Curry with pickled red onions and green chutney to the party. The main course curries (in this instance, £10/£9 respectively) come with jasmine rice as standard, while attention-grabbing sides (this week, Bang Bang Cauliflower and Rainbow Rice Spring Rolls with a ginger and peanut dip) are specifically selected to compliment the feast and complete the experience.

Ready to roll? Email athome@pingcoombes.com by 6pm on Tuesday (if you have any allergies etc, remember to add those all-important details at this point) and your feast will be ready for collection from Larkhall Butchers between 2pm on Friday and 1.30pm on Saturday. New menus are unveiled every week; sign up for a regular ping from Ping here.

New restaurant opening at The Bird in October: plate by Leon Smith

The Pig is wishing a very warm welcome to what promises to be a very exciting brand new restaurant opening at The Bird (Pulteney Road) on Wednesday 7 October.

plate by Leon Smith focuses on stylish yet simple produce-led dishes wrought from ultra-seasonal, local ingredients on a weekly-changing menu served up in a relaxed, informal environment. Leon returns to the West Country having established his reputation at some of the UK’s finest establishments including Tom Aikens in Chelsea, Wild Honey, Berwick Lodge, The Pony and Trap (one of the few Michelin starred pubs in the UK) and The Royal Oak at Paley Street, where he achieved three AA rosettes.

The Bird’s proprietor Ian Taylor aims to treat guests to a spectacle for the senses from when they first step into the restaurant, and has designed a colourful, playful interior that aims to complement menus that promise to burst with flavour, presented with flair and executed with skill.

New menu items will be added weekly to reflect true seasonality, ensuring local and return diners will always have a new experience to enjoy as produce highlights varying within each month. While Leon’s menu will change constantly, his pride in his suppliers will be perennial; he and his brigade have hand-sourced the very best ingredients from local farmers and fishermen, meeting with each and visiting regularly as part of their determination to create a showcase of food heroes. Beef and lamb is sourced from the team at family-owned Beeswax Dyson (less than five miles away from Leon’s kitchen) while rainbow platefuls of vegetables are grown with care by fifth-generation farmers at Lovejoys.

plate by Leon Smith will be open from Tuesday-Sunday, a fixed price menu will be available daily from 6pm-7pm offering 2/3 courses for £20/£25, and a children’s menu will complement the adult offering offering ‘gastro kids’ the opportunity to enjoy mini-versions of their parent’s choices. Sound tasty? We think so! Reservations are being taken now; call 01225 580438 or click on this link to guarantee your place at the prandial party.

Pig Guide review: Bikano’s

They’re all over Twitter, and Instagram, and TikBook, and TokFace, and SnapPin. You know who (and where) they are, you know what’s on the menu, you know how many tables are available for this evening’s service; heck, you probably even know what shoes the bar staff are wearing. But y’know, not every restaurant-based coming out party is based around what’s hip, or which backdrop if the most glitzy, or which Social Media Manager has shouted the loudest in order to grab our attention.

For sure, most of us are celebrating a return to eating out again, leaving kitchens that we’ve become way too over-familiar with behind for an evening of indulgence, bonhomie and sheer escapism. But as we hurtle back into the work, rest and play cycle faster than most of us can say “don’t-forget-your-face-mask!”, we’re also settling back into the comfortably familiar routines that we waved a temporary farewell to at the start of March – and “let’s just go around the corner” for dinner is one of the biggies.

Now I’m not saying for one moment that Bikano’s (Widcombe) is all and only about simply offering a quick fix when you just can’t be bothered to cook – there’s far, far more to it than that. But this cheerful little Indian restaurant ticks all the classic neighbourhood bistro boxes: friendly service, exceedingly wallet-friendly prices and super-fresh food based on a classic Indian cross-continent motif. Sound familiar? Yes! And thank goodness for that. It’s the kind of place that lures you in on a whim if you happen to be having a pint at one of the lovely watering holes on Widcombe Parade (bearing in mind the current modus operandi based around limited space, so booking strongly advised) but it also offers broad appeal for all manner of get-togethers; on the evening we visited, the couple on the next(ish) table to us were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary, while a table further down were doing the family birthday thing.

The starter array offers all the classic Indian bistro fave raves you crave: Bhajis, Chats and Pakoras; Kebabs, Tikkas and Tandoori Chicken Wings. There are Dosas too, and both fish- and meat-based sharing platters for those who can’t make their minds up. We, however, made our minds up pretty darn quick. The result? The freshest – in terms of both crispy batter and huge, succulent slabs of fish within – Fish Pakoras imaginable, and Salt and Pepper Paneer (pictured) that hit all the perfect crispy/creamy/spicy high notes, both starters served on two very nicely presented plates. Talking of presentation, even the Pappadoms (simply – and authentically – called Papad here, which is nice to see) are pretty: crispy little non-oily shards of delight served with a lovely little array of super-fresh chutneys and a minty-creamy dip.

For the mains event, I couldn’t describe the Home Style Chicken Curry better than Bikano’s describe it on their menu… so here we go: “tender chicken thigh cooked lovingly just the way grandpa would make it. This is an every day Indian meal at it very best.” In my own words, grandpa certainly knew his stuff – this is the kind of deeply satisfying, multi-textured dish that Rick Stein would have swooned over when he travelled across India in search of the perfect curry… if, that is, he hadn’t halted his search when he came across the grass roots incarnation of Bikano’s soft, velvety and just-tingly-hot-enough Lamb Chettinad.

To accompany the mains shebang, we had a side of Daal Makhani that was richly satisfying enough to make it a main course superstar in its own right; fluffy, cumin-infused mushroom rice; a fragrant, oven-fresh Peshwari naan.. and Masala Chips. Masala Chips? Oh stop it, you know you want them too.

But the thing that most delighted me about what was, overall, a properly delightful experience is that it’s clear from the off that attention to detail is paramount to the whole Bikano’s team, from Front of House to backstage – and their hard work does not go unnoticed. If you’ve yet to notice Bikano’s, you’re seriously missing out; it may not be on TikBook or TokFace or SnapPin, but thankfully it’s on our doorstep.

Stage.Jacky pop-up returns to The Peking, Sunday 27 September

Following on the success of the recent Stage.Jacky Tasting Menu event hosted by The Peking Restaurant (Kingsmead Square) last month (read our full review here), superchef Jacky Chan will be returning to the Peking kitchen to do it all over again on Sunday 27 September.

Tickets for this exclusive event cost just £65pp for a 5-course Tasting Menu and there are two sittings to choose from (6pm and 8pm.) However…. as space is limited to a maximum of 10 covers per sitting, this event is expected to sell out fast – last time around, the evening sitting sold out in just two hours; you have been warned! So, if you don’t want to miss out on what The Pig Guide can personally guaranteed is a uniquely fascinating experience, give Peking owner Jun a call on 01225 466377 today.

Exciting news from The Methuen Arms

There are some exciting changes afoot at the award-winning Methuen Arms in Corsham, Wiltshire. Much as we’re be sorry to see superchef Leigh Evans fly the nest, we’re super-excited about the arrival of new Head Chef Kevin Chandler who joins the MA on Leigh’s recommendation and brings a wealth of culinary experience with him.

Having trained with the acclaimed Galvin brothers at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe and worked at London’s Maze Gordon Ramsay and Petrus (now Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley), Kevin went on to work with Rick Stein in Marlborough before enjoying a stint at The Pear Tree, Whiteley. “I’m incredibly excited about joining the team at The Methuen Arms,” says Kevin. “I’m a chef who is very much led by passion and I just love to cook. Our guests will be at the heart of everything we do – they can expect the same amazing quality that’s synonymous with The Methuen Arms, but with a few new show stoppers along the way. I take inspiration from the incredible local produce we’re lucky to have access to, so whether it’s a comforting Sunday lunch or the very best fish and chips you’ve ever had, each dish will be a celebration of that produce, locally grown or sourced from our very own allotment outside the kitchen window.”

And the exciting Methuen Arms news doesn’t end there! Hannah Liquorish is poised to bring fresh ideas and her own, inimitable hands-on management style to her role as new General Manager. “I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in and getting to know all the locals I’ve heard such a lot about,” says Hannah. “The Methuen Arms has a great reputation for warm, quality hospitality and that’s what I’m all about. These are exciting times for the whole team and I can’t wait to play my part.”

Bringing in a new dedicated Head Chef allows us to really focus on taking our food offering to the next level,” says Jayson Perfect, Group Managing Director Pubs & Inns, Liberation Group. “Kevin has a fantastic background and we’re all really looking forward to him making his mark at The Methuen. Meanwhile Steph – our Assistant Manager – and the rest of the front of house team have all really stepped up recently, and we wanted to bring Hannah on board as General Manager to offer some leadership and expertise to make sure we continue to put our customers first in all of our thinking. This is an exciting time for The Methuen Arms!”

And so say all of us!

The Mint Room extends EOTHO deal throughout September

The Mint Room – described, in our very own words (!), as “competent, confident, audaciously inspirational masters of the art of modern Indian cookery” – have, of their own volition, extended the Eat Out To Help Out scheme every Monday-Thursday throughout September, offering diners 50% off all food (including the fabulous Tour of India Tasting Menu) to a maximum of £10pp.

While we’re on Mint Room territory, forget ye not that the restaurant’s super-smart, uber-glam, semi-alfresco Piper-Heidsieck rooftop Champagne bar offers yet another twist to the singularly unique Mint Room experience, making it the perfect, elegant hotspot in which to make the very most of September’s Met Office-predicted Indian summer.

The Oyster Shell ‘On The Road’ – coming to a village near you!

The Oyster Shell‘s On The Road food truck is back out of hibernation and ready to hit the road again, taking their award-winning fish and chips (and langoustines, and sausages, and bubble and squeak Scotch eggs, and more…) to villages around Bath from Monday 1 September. Form an orderly queue in Freshford Village Hall car park every Monday from 1 September, Bishop Sutton AFF car park every Wednesday from 2 September and Welton Rovers FC carpark in Midsomer Norton from Friday 4 September. The van will be open for business on site at each location between 4.30pm-8.30pm, and you can pre-order and choose your preferred collection slot ahead of time here… or simply rock up and order on the day. Enjoy!

Big deals to celebrate the Butcombe Food & Beer festival throughout September

Party on down at a Butcombe pub every Monday-Thursday throughout September and reap big rewards: Burger & Beer for a tenner on Mondays, Pie & Beer for a tenner on Tuesdays, 25% off all food all day for Butcombe Loyalty Club members on Wednesdays, and a £10 ‘Catch of the Day’ from the Brixham Fish Market specials board on Thursdays.

Butcombe pubs: where’s that too, then? In Bath/neaby environs, we’re talking the Pig and Fiddle (Saracen Street), The Methuen Arms (just up t’road, in Corsham) and the glorious Quarrymans Arms on Box Hill… but there are several more too, not too far away. But hey, forget ye not: booking essential; plunder the full list of Butcombe pubs here

Review: Stage.Jacky at The Peking

We’re all getting out and about again – but things ain’t what they used to be. Right now, crowds and confusion dominate the first three days of the week, but venture out Thursday-Sunday and every day, in most restaurants, is like – well, Sunday. At many restaurant tables, hand sanitiser sits were the cruet once belonged. Impromptu walk-in experiences are almost a thing of the past; as for parties, big groups and celebratory gatherings… forget it, for the foreseeable future at least. But hey, talking of at least: at least we’re working out how to be ‘out there’ again… and many of Bath’s best-loved independent restaurants are fighting the good fight to make the ‘new normal’ – well, normal.

The Peking Restaurant has kept the familiarity flag flying in Bath for over three decades, making it not only the city’s longest-established Chinese restaurant but one of Bath’s longest-established restaurants, period. It’s one of my go-to hotspots when I know what I want, and I know what I want will be very, very good here: aromatic lamb with pancakes, lemon chicken, Kung Po king prawns, crispy beef, monkfish with ginger and spring onions – I don’t really even have to read the menu anymore, but I read it just because I love it, and then I order what I love.

But hey, hang on! A Tasting Menu… at The Peking? A different chef… at The Peking? Only 10 diners… at The Peking? Yes. Because for one night (not quite*) only, Peking proprietor Jun hosted a pop-up hosted putting chef Jacky Chan – a fascinating guy with an illustrious CV (read all about him in our original news story about this event here) – centre stage for the Stage.Jacky event.

It feels a little odd to be in The Peking without the bustle and buzz of the usual peak time vibe around us. But odd, these days, is commonplace, and the restaurant’s fuss-free space lends itself well to both this and every ‘new normal’ occasion. The overall modus operandi, however, is very much business as usual: the staff are always, always lovely here, and Jun mixes and mingles with his customers like the old friend that he’s become to his Peking stalwarts. But tonight, there’s a sense of anticipation in the air that has nothing at all to do with the imminent arrival of prawn crackers with our beer and everything to do with that feeling you get only when you know you’re about to experience something very, very special.

Chef Jacky is softly-spoken man who delivers his plates to our tables with a refreshing minimum of pomp or ceremony, leaving his food to speak volumes for him… and from the very first glance Jacky’s food not only talks, but deserves to be talked about.

An amuse bouche involving roast cherry tomatoes that look like roast cherry tomatoes but reveal themselves, once in the amused bouche itself, to be something very savoury, and very beautiful. Another bite of subtly complex Asian-infused deliciousness on a crispy seaweed nest. Are these precursors a taste of things to come? Oh very much yes… and then some.

Silky, opalescent sous vide scallops served with plums in wine, sauce and fresh sliver form on a bed of slippery potato glass noodles. A plump, sturdy little slipper of very fresh red mullet proving its worth as the ideal partner for a well-balanced smattering of umami delivered by depth-charge dashi and an equally intense fish foam, with spring onion oil sharpening and uplifting proceedings (see pic.) A fat, pink langoustine almost adjacent to a prawn ‘sausage’, intense salted duck egg turning the flavour volume up to 11 while mustard foam, langoustine mayo and cauliflower rice add further interest, complexity and texture at every turn. Two neat, soft slabs of duck breast with a rich, indulgent ingot of duck liver pate, zhenjiang vinegar roasted shallots cutting boldly through the intrinsically gamey flavours and Chinese roast duck sauce bringing an almost-but-not-quite sense of familiarity to what is, ostensibly, a sharply astute makeover of an erstwhile classic combination. And the show isn’t over yet…

There’s a pre-dessert before the dessert ‘proper’: a jelly involving essence of tomato and honey topped with basil cream (forgive me, Chef Jacky, if I’ve got the combination description wrong here, but boy oh boy, this little taster was so right, for me) and deep fried milk – yes, deep fried milk! – with yogurt gelato, beetroot and Japanese pickled ginger. I wouldn’t have ordered either dessert, but now they’re both all I want to eat after a meal, ever.

Presentation throughout is impeccably elegant: colours, shadow, space and the crockery itself are all given due consideration but with scene setting, not scene stealing, at the epicentre of the design. Not a single element on any plate doesn’t deserve centre stage; every dish is fabulous but not flashy, fascinating but not faddy. Yes, there’s an indisputable Asian theme running throughout the menu, but homage is paid equally to both classic and modern French sensibilities too; like, wow. Real, proper wow.

Old meets new, nostalgia meets reinvention, and life goes on. Next week I’ll be back in The Peking, raving about my old faves. At the end of September (date tbc*, but I’ll be very quick off the mark in giving you plenty of notice), I’ll be back in the audience when Stage.Jacky returns to the restaurant for an encore. And right now – for what feels like the first time in a very long time – the future looks bright.

Why is The Pig Guide partying this week? Read on…

The Eat Out To Help Out scheme is getting us out-and-about for discount dining in Bath’s best pubs and restaurants every Monday-Wednesday from now until the end of August

What started off as a one-off ‘guest’ chat with Somer Valley FM host/Station Manager Richard Burgess has turned into a regular gig (“the highlight of my week,” eh, Rich?)… and we have some very exciting pipeline plans to unveil shortly

We’ve got tickets for the tantalising, chef-led Peking pop-up on Sunday 23 August!

There’s a Poetry Trail in the Royal Crescent Hotel’s beautiful, scented, historic garden – a complimentary experience for residents and non-residents alike from now until Wednesday 30 September; linger long for alfresco refreshments after you’ve completed the trail and receive 10% off your order

We’re ‘in talks’ with the lovely Pixie App folk about a very exciting Pixie/Pig collaboration

Work is well underway on brand new Bath Pub Co hostelry The Moorfields on Third Avenue (near Moorland Road)

No. 15 Great Pulteney (“an experience for all the senses”) is back open for business – hoorah!

The Thai Hut (Green Park Station) has launched a brand new e-bike home delivery service

Homewood (see pic) have unveiled their brand new Olio terrace and pizzeria, overlooking the hotel, spa and restaurant’s magnificent, manicured, mesmerising gardens – if you’re looking for a reason to go (tastefully!) wild in the country, this is it!

Visiting chef to host exclusive pop-up Tasting Menu at The Peking, Sunday 23 August

It is a fact universally acknowledged that we all love the Peking Restaurant. When it opened its doors back in 1985, it was the first restaurant to bring eat-in, Brit-friendly incarnations of Cantonese, Szechuan and Peking cuisine to the Heritage City… and now, it’s a Kingsmead Square institution.

Like the city around it, The Peking has undergone many changes and refurbishments over the decades; today, it boasts a subtle ambience of welcoming, understated glamour, perfectly balanced on the bridge where contemporary expectations meet traditional diner requirements. But if you think you know all there is to know about The Peking, prepare to have your preconceptions very elegantly challenged at a very special pop-up event on Sunday 23 August.

Chef Jacky Chan was born in Hong Kong and moved to the UK around 20 years ago. “When I first came to the UK, I started a Chinese takeaway and delivery business which I kept going for more than ten years,” says Jacky. “It was a good business, but I felt that that I wanted to do better, and develop more elaborate, diverse dishes of my own. So I gave up everything I had at the time and went on to learn fine dining level skills from scratch, at college in Bristol and then at several Michelin-starred restaurants.”

Jacky’s impressive CV includes experience at highly acclaimed Bristol gastropub The Kensington Arms and Michelin-starred establishments including the Pony and Trap in Chew Magna, Casamia, Marcus at The Berkeley and Hong Kong’s 3-starred Bo Innovation – and now, he’s popping up in Bath.

On Sunday 23 August, you can experience Jacky’s innovative, uniquely-crafted dishes – described by Jun Wong, owner of the Peking, as “the place where classic Michelin presentation and standards meets Far Eastern inspiration” – at a very special Supper Club hosted by The Peking. Tickets for this exclusive event cost just £58 for a 5-course Tasting Menu, full details of which will be revealed shortly, but in this instance, vegetarian or vegan options will not be available.

Although there are two sittings to choose from (5.30 and 8.30pm) space is limited to a maximum of 10 covers per sitting, so the event is expected to sell out fast. Don’t miss out on what’s guaranteed to be a uniquely fascinating experience! To book, give the Peking a ring on 01225 466377.

COVID-19 statement: The Peking Restaurant has studied the government’s guidelines for operating a Covid-secure restaurant carefully and is strictly observing and adhering to all the required recommendations, constantly keeping plans under review and making changes/improvements where appropriate.

Reasons to be cheerful right here, right now

We couldn’t be more thrilled that the long-established Peking Restaurant (Kingsmead Square) is back open for takeaway collection; we’ve sorely missed our regular Peking fix! And forget ye not that a 15% discount on menu prices applies on all takeaway orders.

While we’re really sorry to see Phat Yaks (Kingsmead Square) close its doors for good, we’re really looking forward to seeing the results of the refit/refurb that’s been going on at PY mothership Yak Yeti Yak during lockdown – all will be revealed on Tuesday 21 July when the restaurant reopens its doors to the public with a brand new website to flaunt too. It’s also well worth flagging up here that the YYY team recently delivered their 1000th meal – yup, we said 1000th meal – to frontline keyworkers at the RUH Bath; amazing work indeed.

Yay, Corkage (Chapel Row) is popping those corks again and reopening their doors to their fans. But be warned: booking is more essential than ever before as social distancing guidelines = reduced capacity, so clickety-click double quick. Top tip: fancy Brunch & Bubbles on a Sunday? You know where to go!

We’ve been banging on about this on Twitter, in our Bath Echo column and in our most recent guest spot chat with Somer Valley FM host Richard Burgess on his Monday afternoon Drivetime show. But if you need to keep up at the back, Bath Pub Company MD Joe Cussens’ brilliant short video detailing exactly how his pubs’ reopening plans will work, filmed at the Hare and Hounds, offers a clear explanation/textbook blueprint of the ‘new normal’ code of conduct. Good work, Joe!

Why would anybody buy their daily bread (and related bakery treats, plus all kinds of enticing everything else) from anywhere else but the Thoughtful Bakery? Order online for delivery or collection (see website for the full lowdown) or pop into the bakery’s Barton Street HQ for the socially-distanced ‘live’ experience

We’re SO looking forward to splashing around at The Scallop Shell (Monmouth Street) this week when it reopens for full, sit-in business (adhering to full new normal guidelines, of course) – book your table today. Okay, so the takeaway service is off the menu again, but SS sister venture The Oyster Shell (Moorland Road) has extended its opening hours to take up the slack – dive in, Piggies!

We’re fascinated by brand new pop-up venture Jikoni – “an adventure in food from Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Tanzania”, no less – now offering takeaway and home delivery to Bath addresses every Friday and Saturday evening (pre-orders only) – ffi, call 07446 150017 or follow Jikoni on Twitter @EastJikoni

Any more for any more? Let me know!

melissa@thepigguide.com