All posts by Melissa Blease

Review: Pies by Plate

After the last lockdown eased up a bit but before this one kicked in (walk with me on this one), I reviewed Plate: a then-brand new restaurant venture within the elegantly quirky confines of The Bird hotel on Pulteney Road. Oh, fond memories indeed! “If I could move in for Christmas, I would,” I said, at the time blithely thinking that I’d properly take up residence there for Christmas, New Year and beyond. And then… ah, we all know what happened next.

But beyond the closed doors of the restaurant, Plate’s kitchen is very much open for business every weekend when superchef Leon Smith dedicates his Fridays and Saturdays to making pies for all to click’n’collect from the hotel’s car park (complete with very inviting fire pit, which makes the whole occasion sorta extra magical.)

Okay, we all think we know all there is to know about pies. But personally, I relish the opportunity to be sent back to the drawing board for a rethink – and Pies by Plate definitely got me rethinking the whole genre. I mean, how often do you encounter moist, smooth chicken, the creamy sauce invigorated by just the right amount of tingly tarragon and tightly packed into a neat, super-short pastry crust, somehow lighter than a ‘traditional’ chicken pie yet still reassuringly, supremely, comfortingly familiar? What about a Sweet Potato and Lentil pie that brings depth-charge flavour, texture and total satisfaction to your, erm, plate and puts a vegetarian-friendly option centre stage for all? As for that old family favourite, the Fish Pie: Leon makes sure that the mashed potato topping – divine though it may be – plays a supporting role to huge chunks of cod, smoked haddock and salmon rather than turning the whole thing into a (tiny bit of fish) version of corned beef hash. That mash comes as standard with the pastry-wrapped pies too, and piles of freshly-steamed Bromham winter vegetables (think, hispi cabbage, and courgettes, and leeks, and yum yum yum) kick a hefty portion of your five-a-day straight into the back of the net without making you feel as though you have to eat your greens in order to eat all the pies. Talking of over-indulging (oh come on, we’re in the middle of a bitter UK winter, in lockdown – over-indulgence is all that gets most of us through the long weekends), there’s pud on the menu too: Winter Berry Cheesecake with Chantilly Cream… please trust me when I tell you that if you can’t manage it after your pie-fest, it makes a wonderful breakfast the next morning. Meanwhile, all ingredients used are sourced within a 10-mile radius of Bath, making Pies by Plate a win-win prandial party for all.

Partying on with Leon’s pies is simple: pre-order by 5pm on Thursday or Friday to collect your order between 5pm-8pm on Friday or Saturday (you’ll find the full menu and ordering contact details here.) All dishes cost £15pp, portions are very generous (to say the least!), everything is beautifully packaged and your feast stays hot all the way home without any of the dreaded takeaway sogginess setting in. Want to buy now, eat them later? There’s a reheat-at-home option available.

Who ate all the pies? You, as soon as you get your hands on them. Enjoy!

Lockdown Larder #3: the essential guide to food and drink shopping in Bath

Food First (for Takeaway/home delivery, Cafes, Treats & Gifts, Drinks and Community Initiatives, scroll down the page):

Thoughtful Bakerydairy, pantry and larder essentials, ready meals and, of course, the most fabulous bread and associated sweet treat delights for miles around available ‘live, (the shop will remain open throughout lockdown) or click’n’collect/home delivery. KLAXON! As well as those legendary pizzas available for click’n’collect every Friday and Saturday evening, look what’s been recently added to the Thoughtful Bakery menu: Thoughtful Brownies in gift box form (gift yourself, or somebody else – they’re available to collect from the bakery and/or order for delivery throughout the UK), classic Afternoon Teas with an add-on Prosecco or G&T option (Saturdays only; collect from the bakery and/or order for delivery to BA1/BA2) and – ta-daa! – Doughnut Selection Boxes (also for collection from the bakery and/or order for delivery to BA1/BA2, Fridays and Saturdays only).

Larkhall Butchers: Top notch, marvellous meat alongside fish, dairy produce and pantry goodies IRL at Larkhall Butchers (paying full respect to social distancing rules, of course) or via doorstep delivery

Lovejoys: delivery services to takeaway kitchens, farm shops, care homes and schools will remain unaffected. Meanwhile, a box delivery service will be available to the general public via the website

Goodies Deli (Larkhall): open for everything delicious deli-related, including Hobbs House bread (and related bakery products), chic charcuterie, charming cheese and much, much, much more, plus fabulous fresh soup of the day, every day. Home delivery service available; also hosts one of the most wittiest, most uplifting Twitter feeds on, erm, Twitter (@GoodiesDeli)

Darling Deli: home cooked fresh and frozen meals-to-go plus bread, fresh meat, coffee, cakes and more, including a fresh curry every week (available to collect from Wednesdays)

Newton Farm: home delivery service for those over 70 or those who are self-isolating as they (or someone they live with) fall in to the vulnerable category, plus those who are self-isolating as a household and NHS frontline workers

Ma Cuisine: French gourmet frozen meals in fresh and frozen format, all available for doorstep delivery or click’n’collect from their Larkhall HQ

The Warmley Bakehouse: the shop will remain open and retail, wholesale and home deliveries services are available

Arthur David: home delivery of all kinds of everything to domestic customers in the BA and BS postcode areas

Avellinos Italian Deli: an abundance of pasta, passata and tinned tomatoes lining the shelves, alongside pestos, jams, oils, Italian eggs, Italian sausages, ’00’ flour by the scoop and much more. Gloves and hand gel are available for every customer (no more than two at a time)

Nibbles Cheese (Guildhall Market): open 9am-4pm Monday-Saturday. Click’n’collect/delivery service (free over £50) and fabulous Cheese Gift Boxes also available

The Fine Cheese Co: fabulous fromage, chic charcuterie, wonderful wines and more. UK-wide mail order delivery services available too, free to orders £50+. See also Cafes.

The Refillable Shop (Cleveland Place East, London Road): stock up sustainably either ‘live’ or online at this big-hearted emporium of indispensable foodie fun on. Take your own container, grab a complimentary recycled brown paper bag or buy a glass jar to fill at your leisure – but whichever way you choose to do it, just do it: this is sustainable shopping at its very, very best

Bath Farmers’ Market (Green Park Station) will remain open every Saturday morning from 9am-1.30pm, just like it did throughout the first lockdown. Shop from myriad local traders all gathered together under one weather-proof roof in a super-safe environment

The Kingsmead Square Stall will remain open for business with the usual fruit and veg supplemented by eggs, pasta, etc. Current opening hours are Monday, Friday and Saturday only (8am-2pm) but proprietor Daniel Weisberg is happy to take click and collect/next day delivery orders via text on 07872 574513. Meanwhile, New Stokes (Moorland Road) are offering a next day delivery service (minimum order £20; £3 delivery charge) – and, as legions of Stokes supporters are aware, there’s a heck of a lot more than fruit and veg available; email bath@newstokes.co.uk or call 07838 943056 for details

Takeaway/home delivery

The Scallop Shell: reverting from eat-in only back to takeaway for the duration of the current lockdown. Hoorah!

The Oyster Shell: the ultimate comfort food available for home delivery/click’n’collect

Yak Yeti Yak: utterly fabulous home delivery service available for click’n’collect every Friday-Saturday between 5pm-8pm; read the menu here, call 01225 442299 from 5pm every evening to order

Thoughtful Bakerylegendary pizzas available for click’n’collect every Friday and Saturday evening

The Peking Restaurant: takeaway and home delivery service 6pm-10pm, 15% reduction on restaurant menu prices on website 

Yum Yum Thai: open for takeaway yum yum yumminess – order by phone or click’n’collect. Free prawn crackers with every order!

Seafoods Fish and Chips (etc!): both branches (Kingsmead Square/Combe Down) open for takeaway

The Longs Arms (South Wraxall): the most amazing burgers (fact!) including The Raymond, The Kenneth and The Gandhi; proper fish and chip suppers every Friday; pie and mash on Saturdays; veggie options available; all £14. Orders must be placed the day before collection – email info@thelongsarms.com or call 01225 864450

The Mint Room: home delivery and/or click’n’collect – call the restaurant direct on 01225 446656

Pies by Plate (The Bird, Bath): Plate Head Chef Leon Smith has created three beautifully-crafted pies (Chicken and Tarragon, Fish Pie and Sweet Potato and Spiced Lentil, all home made from locally-sourced ingredients, all accompanied by mash and veg, etc) available for click’n’collect on Friday and Saturday evenings – oh, and there’s Winter Berry Cheesecake with Chantilly Cream up for grab on both nights, too. All pies cost £15 per person (or choose a pie and that pud for £20); pre-order by 5pm the day before and collect between 5-8pm on Friday or Saturday. To book, call 01225 580438 or email plateathome@platebathwick.co.uk

Olio at Home, Homewood (nr. Freshford): drive-through click’n’collect service every Saturday from 5-8pm. Current menu includes fish/burger and chips, Chicken Malay and Halloumi Massaman curries. Preorder every Friday before 5pm to collect from the front door of Homewood, without leaving your car; call 01225 723731 or email reception@homewoodbath.co.uk

Ping at Home: freshly prepared ready meal extravaganza curated by MasterChef winner Ping Coombes – order by 6pm on Tuesday, collect from Larkhall Butchers on Friday afternoon/Saturday morning. Email athome@pingcoombes.com for full details and/or read our review here

Noya’s Kitchen: Dishes to Go available for collection every Thursday and Friday

Schwartz Bros: Saw Close open 12noon-9pm – click’n’collect via the website or order by phone on 01225 461726/07791 806717. Walcot Street open Sunday-Thursday 5pm-9pm; Friday-Saturday 12noon-9pm – click’n’collect via the website or order by phone on 01225 463613/07791 747264

The Pizza Bike: “The Smallest Pizzeria in the World” is poised for click’n’collect/home delivery from their mini HQ in the the back garden of The Bell (Walcot Street) every Friday/Saturday, 4pm-9pm

The Bath Pizza Co: click’n’collect (visit website for opening hours)

Simi’s Kitchen: unique (and super-tasty) virtual Supper Club for up to 25 people every Friday evening (£25pp) – the sociable part (via Zoom) is optional; the eating isn’t!

Demuths at Home: order by midnight on Thursdays and pick up an exciting, freshly prepared vegan meal on a globally-inspired theme (plus all the relevant sides and trimmings) from Demuths’ Terrace Walk HQ on Saturday afternoon (£20pp)

Bath Fish and Chips: click’n’collect/home delivery services (via Deliveroo) Tuesday-Wednesday 4pm-9pm; Thursday-Saturday 12noon-9pm

Cafes/Delis

Best of British Deli (Broad Street): open 9am-3pm Monday-Friday for takeaway coffee, tea, hot chocolate, bespoke sandwiches, freshly baked cakes and bacon butties

Mús Coffee Shop (Widcombe): open for takeaways, pick-me-ups and general bonhomie from 7.30am-2pm Monday-Saturday

Widcombe Deli: Widcombe, Larkhall and Abbey Green (city centre) branches all open for takeaway coffee and hot drinks, delicious deli-delights and all kinds of tantalising treats to-go every Monday-Saturday 8.30am-2pm

Larkhall Deli: open for takeaway Monday-Saturday 8.30am-2pm

Fox & Kit Cafe: open for takeaway toasted ciabattas, soup, sourdough rolls, children’s menu, cakes, hot and cold drinks etc Friday-Sunday 10am-3pm. Family friendly Lockdown ‘Kids’ Survival’ Boxes for local delivery and/or click’n’collect in the pipeline

The Good Bear Cafe (Bear Flat): takeaway sandwiches, cakes, drinks and more, Monday-Saturday 9am-2pm

Rosarios: takeaway soup, panini, arancini, coffee, cakes and more. Monday-Saturday 9.30am-3pm

Juicy Orange (Weston): open for takeaway hot drinks, milkshakes, smoothes, treats and essential foods Monday-Saturday. Coffee and other hot drinks at special rates for litter pickers every Saturday

The Fine Cheese Co: cafe open alongside the shop for takeaway coffee and related cafe-counter scrumptiousness-to-go

Treats, gifts and pick-me-ups

Thoughtful BakeryThoughtful Brownies in gift box form (gift yourself, or somebody else – they’re available to collect from the bakery and/or order for delivery throughout the UK), classic Afternoon Teas with an add-on Prosecco or G&T option (Saturdays only; collect from the bakery and/or order for delivery to BA1/BA2) and – ta-daa! – Doughnut Selection Boxes (also for collection from the bakery and/or order for delivery to BA1/BA2, Fridays and Saturdays only)

The Fudge Factory: mail order service available via the website

No 3 Cafe: Lockdown Boxes including Posh Ploughmans, Afternoon Tea, Vegan Grazing and Sweet Dripping Dipping selections for just £10, available for collection or free delivery to BA1 Monday-Friday; message @SarararaCoffee to order

Sugarcane Studio: open for superb, unique, supremely pretty sweet treats to takeaway, plus weekly selection box delivery

Sweet Little Things: daily afternoon tea deliveries and celebration hampers within a 15 mile radius of Lower Borough Walls; order online or email mail@sltbath.co.uk

The Wheat Free Kitchen: open for bespoke gluten free cake orders and deliveries throughout Bath

Cheers!

Chapter One Brewpub (also home to an independent onsite microbrewery, Verse Brewing): online shop offering a pre-order click’n’collect service including a Wolf Wines Refill Station from 3pm-7pm every Tuesday-Saturday, available to pick up from their London Road HQ **CURRENTLY SUSPENDED**

Abbey Ales: free delivery to addresses within a 10-mile radius of Bath every Monday-Friday

Novel Wines: free delivery (no minimum order) to BA1/BA2

Great Western Wine: wine (obvs) alongside spirits, veggie/vegan/low or no alcohol selection, plus great gifts (UK-wide delivery), olive oils and vinegars too

Independent Spirit: Independent Spirit is an Aladdin’s Cave of alcohol-based treasure – and their website is the Genie’s Lamp

Wolf Wines: exciting wines you’ll wanna wolf down, including fabulous vegan, organic and natural varietals, beers and ciders too

Community Initiatives

The Bath and NE Somerset Third Sector Group 3SG has bought a host of local partners, charities, residents, students and businesses together to create a Compassionate Community to support everybody during difficult times. On the food front (just one element of the incredible work that 3SG is doing), the team have collaborated with the Sustainable Food Partnership to generate a regularly-updated list of local providers offering food services to people across Bath and north east Somerset

FoodCycle Bath offers a free, nutritious, freshly-cooked meal for collection from Nexus Methodist Church (Nelson Place) every Wednesday between 7.30pm-8.30pm

Age UK B&NES are offering a lunchtime delivery of a hot meal for people living in B&NES direct to the person’s door, seven days per week. A main course and a dessert costs just £6.50; click on this link for the daily menu. Specific dietary requirements can be accommodated, including low sugar, gluten free, and textured meals for those who find it difficult to swallow. To order, email communitymeals@ageukwiltshire.org.uk or call 01793 687017

Bath Foodbank centres are closed until further notice, but e-vouchers are allowing people in need to have food parcels delivered to their homes via a contact-free delivery service. The service is currently in dire need of cereal, baked beans, tinned tomatoes/vegetables/meat/fish/soup/fruit/rice pudding, packet soup, pasta and jars of pasta sauce, UHT milk, long life juice, chocolate and biscuits, instant mash, coffee, hand wash, soap and shower gel

Pig Guide review: Boho Marché

You could easily be forgiven for not being aware of several brand new ventures that have opened in Bath recently; after all, few of us are getting out-and-about much, are we? Full credit where it’s due, then, to the brave new worlders who have set up shop in the midst of what’s possibly the most difficult trading circumstances known to several generations – Boho Marché being the case in point we’re focusing on here.

Taking over the space vacated by Brasserie Blanc at the Francis Hotel on Queen Square, Boho Marché is subtle in terms of signage while the big picture windows are designed more for looking out of from indoors than in from the street – a missed opportunity, perhaps, for a restaurant situated at the crossroads of major city centre footfall point? Beyond that classic hotel facade, however, the vibe subtly – and somewhat surprisingly – rocks along to a subtle Casbah beat, with Marrakech market-stye flourishes evident in both décor and menus in a dining room that was once been a ballroom but today pushes ‘smart modern brasserie’ to the fore, with inviting booths by the bar and smartly-laid tables (some with banquette seating, hoorah!) dotted hither and thither across the rather elegant space.

If you crave falafel and muhammara, or roast smoked harissa chicken, or Moroccan butternut squash curry, you’ll find those dishes on the menu here… alongside lobster and shrimp mac’n’cheese, the Boho beef and marrow burger, duck confit, truffled tagliatelle, and similar dishes on a pan-global theme that underpin the restaurant’s ethos of bringing Mediterranean, Moroccan, North African, Andalusian and French classics (phew!) together in one very busy kitchen. As a result, Turkish poached eggs with labneh and chilli oil leaps out at you from an otherwise classic hotel breakfast menu, and a fried chicken burger with barbecue mayo shares space with a vegan cous cous poke bowl on the main course selection; think Yotam Ottolenghi meets Antony Worral Thompson, and you’ll sorta get the mood. Eclectic? Yes indeed. But then again, what’s not to love about eclectic?

My starter of burrata with peach and chilli chutney was huge, and indulgent, and creamy; a second starter of pan-seared tiger prawns with garlic butter sourdough toast equally substantial. A main course of slow-braised beef with red wine jus and smoked mash was a perfectly executed, textbook rendition of the genre and, at the finishing line, the salted caramel chocolate fondant was divine, the vanilla crème brulee superb. The welcome was warm, service throughout was super-friendly, the cocktails are wonderful, the wine list extensive. But while the overall USP is slightly surreal and perhaps a tad confusing, that’s probably mainly because surreal and confusing are two elements that influence every eating out experience we can manage right now. When tiers stop dominating our table talk and lockdowns become a distant memory, Boho Marché has the potential to march right up the Bath hotel restaurant charts.

Why Going Out should be the new Staying In

Bath’s hospitality ventures have reopened for (limited) business and, slowly but surely, we’re all wondering… how will it feel to leave our own kitchens behind for the evening and let a restaurant cook for us again?

The simple answer to that question is that it will, or course, feel completely normal. No, not “new normal” – just straightforward normal; after all these months of Covid awareness, complying with the necessary rules and regulations put in place to make us all as safe and secure as possible should be second nature by now. In relation to livelihoods, though, safety and security are two words that have dropped off the menu completely for the hospitality industry.

Times are hard for the independent businesses who have worked so hard to keep afloat during both lockdowns. While many of us have endured hard times of our own over the past 10 months, we need to acknowledge the part that we have to play – the extra-added responsibility, if you like – in supporting Bath’s business community as best as we can; if we don’t, day-to-day life in the immediate world around us is going to change even more drastically than it already has.

It has to be noted, at this point, that this call to arms isn’t intended to blithely overlook the many folk who are struggling with cashflow issues of their own. But as Christmas is severely curtailed this year and the summer holiday fund untouched, might December be a good time to consider using a little bit of rainy day money to brighten up a pretty gloomy forecast? As a bonus incentive to such a plan, Welcome Back deals abound at Bath’s loveliest independent restaurants and gastropubs, including fabulous festive set menus at exceedingly wallet-friendly prices well worth cobbling some ‘mad money’ funds together for. But pounds and pennies aside, perhaps there’s a similarly serious issue affecting your decision around the ‘to book or not to book’ question…

Eating out in the highly controlled environment of a restaurant is, on many levels, “safer” than, say, travelling to work by public transport, or living in close quarters with school-age children, or shopping/working in a big supermarket – just three examples of daily life activities that many of us have continued to do throughout the most recent lockdown. If you think beyond all the scaremongering about clashing tiers and the ridiculous news headlines about whether or not a Scotch Egg constitutes a substantial meal and allow yourself to digest a main course of rationale instead (ie, take a look, online, at your favourite independent restaurant’s Tier 2 Customer Guidelines, which they’re all obliged to publish; here’s a great example from the Bath Pub Company), it becomes clear that a supper away from your own hob is nothing to be scared of. And here’s where our responsibility comes into play again: if you visit a restaurant that doesn’t appear to be following guidelines or managing the behaviour of their customers/staff properly (hugely unlikely, given the consequences for business who don’t stick to the rules), it’s up to you to leave that restaurant and explain your reasons for doing so to the owners of that business.

The independent restaurants, cafes and bars that we all love so much provide jobs for local people, support other local suppliers, producers and businesses and offer vital community cornerstones that makes Bath so unique. They don’t have the cushion of big buck investors to fall back on when times are hard; all they have is us. In readiness for reopening their doors this December, those businesses have, at extremely late notice, already done all the hard work for you in order to offer you a warm, relaxing welcome; all you have to do in return for making a safe return is to do as you’re asked when you get there, and enjoy being back.

This feature was first published in The Bath Magazine newsletter; sign up here!

Pig Guide review: Emma’s Restaurant at the DoubleTree by Hilton Bath

Built in 1972 as part of town planner Sir Colin Buchanan’s plans for redeveloping the southern end of Walcot Street, the brutalist concrete structure that is the Bath Hilton Hotel has earned itself local iconic status for all the wrong reasons. But not all pretty packages come beautifully wrapped – and if you venture beyond that hostile frontage today, you’ll find a gift box of very pretty treats to explore.

Earlier this year, the Bath Hilton hotel franchise was snapped up by Kew Green Hotels who invested mega bucks into a super-imaginative, totally transformational refurbishment including a chi-chi cocktail bar, contempo-elegant dining space (Emma’s Restaurant, complete with alfresco terrace) and an internal Secret Garden destination, and renamed the whole shebang the DoubleTree by Hilton Bath.

It’s difficult to imagine what one of Jane Austen’s most engaging protagonists might have thought of her namesake restaurant within the hotel’s brand new eat, drink and be merry zone. Would she, once seated in a spacious booth in full view of the glamorous bar, have allowed her first, frisky paramour Frank Churchill to have led her towards sharing a smoochy bread, cheese, meat, cheese, fish or charcuterie Sharing Platter (all of which look suitably seductive) along the route? Or would she, as I imagine her rather more conventional husband-to-be George Knightley would have advised, take a sturdily traditional route to satiation with homemade soup, proper pie and ice cream?

Having worn that particularly eccentric bout of speculation out rather quickly, we made our own merry way through a menu that, as you may have already surmised, takes diners on a whistlestop cruise around the globe, lingering long in southeast Asia – a clever plan considering that we are, after all, both on hotel territory and in the centre of a city whose residents are known for embracing far-flung foodie inspirations. So, passports firmly in hand…

To start, featherlight, well-stuffed Bao Bun with a deeply umami Pork Ramen; fresh, crisp Asian-style Crab Cakes with fruity/spicy mango chutney – our cruise was off to a flying start indeed. I stuck with the southeast Asian theme for my main course, too: lesser-spotted (in Bath, anyway) Nasi Goreng served with moist satay skewers and an impeccably seasoned sambal. Mr Pig, meanwhile, turned into Mr Knightley at this point, tucking into a juicy, tandoori-cooked 8oz sirloin with all the trimmings (fabulous thick-cut chips, juicy mushroom, fragrant vine tomatoes, etc) faster than Emma could say “I may have lost my heart but not my self-control” – Mr Pig, it seemed, lost both to that steak.

We had puds too: Sticky Toffee ‘cos we’re never allowed to say no to it, ever, and DoubleTree’s ‘famous’ Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake, which is famous for a very good reason: it’s totally, utterly yum.

Emma’s Restaurant and all that goes with it – the bar, the Secret Garden et al – is an unexpectedly elegant addition to the Bath restaurant scene, in a controversial building that’s been given an unexpectedly elegant second chance courtesy of an impeccably well-considered makeover. Oh, and by the way: delightfully congenial Afternoon Teas go large here too – Ms Austen herself would most definitely have approved.

Pig Guide review: Plate at The Bird

Quirky but chic, subtly glamorous, wittily flamboyant and home to a kitchen dedicated to serving dishes wrought from the finest, freshest, locally-sourced seasonal produce that head chef Leon Smith (who boasts stints at some of the UK’s top eateries including Tom Aikens in Chelsea, the Michelin-starred Pony and Trap and The Royal Oak at Paley Street – where he achieved three AA rosettes – on his impressive CV) can get his hands on: Plate – a recent addition to the stylish merrymaking zone that is The Bird hotel on Pulteney Road – is all about spirit-lifting joy.

Cocktails with nibbles? Tapas with fizz? Proper pie with proper cider? A full-on, all-course blow-out, or a light lunch, or a grand celebratory feast, or a smoochy ‘just because’ supper with your loved one? Tick, tick, tickety-tick; it’s all going on at this seductively welcoming all-things-to all-people experience, where you’re treated like an old best friend from the moment you step through the door.

As you’d expect from a Kaleidoscope Collection venture (see also: Homewood), there’s much to catch your eye even before you’ve made yourself comfortable in the sparklingly pretty bar: intelligently fanciful modern artwork, curious curios, gracious knick-knackery, waggish wallpaper and vibrant but distinctly non-garish colour, colour, colour everywhere you look all serve to fascinate and cheer from the off. It’s totally unique to Bath, but the warm, unpretentious vibe and friendly front of house staff soften any ‘shock of the new’ hard edges with an ease and competence that immediately wrap you up in a warm, relaxed, comfortable shawl of bonhomie… and ain’t that just what we need, right now more than ever before?

Following cocktails in that bar (since having a Cosmopolitan here, I’ve craved nothing else to drink) we took to a cosy corner table in the dining room and picked our way through three dishes from the West Country Tapas section of the neat menu: mackerel rillette with luxurious smoked cod’s roe, piquant pickled cucumber and seductive saffron potato; lightly devilled crispy Brixham whitebait with a super-lively lemon mayonnaise; braised shoulder of Beeswax lamb. Of these three perfect small plates, the soft, succulent, slightly smoky lamb offset by an exceedingly moreish caper jam which was, in turn, mellowed out by the sweet, grassy tang of goats’ curd resulted in an outstanding little dishy indeed… and our raised expectations weren’t set to plummet any time soon.

For mains, for Mr Pig, a generous slab of super-fresh Cornish cod teamed with nicely-crusty roasted cauliflower, salty-sweet sea vegetables and subtly briny clams. For me, Leon’s trademark chicken pie: moist, smooth chicken tightly packed into a neat, super-short pastry crust, somehow lighter than a ‘traditional’ chicken pie yet still reassuringly, supremely, comfortingly familiar, served with sweet hispi cabbage, velvety mash and a proper chicken sauce.

We had puds because Mr Pig convinced me that if I really couldn’t eat he Valhrona Chocolate Mousse with cherries and Chantilly that I’d had my eye on from the get-go but claimed I had no room for, he could… but he didn’t have to. He was, however, beyond contented with his very own, very elegant Hibiscus Panna Cotta (which turned out not to be his very own after all.)

Gosh, Plate is very, very good indeed; if I could move in for Christmas, I would. And, given that the both the Fixed Price and a la carte menus offer exceptional value for money, Sunday Lunch promises great things, Gastro Kids are given their own lovely little selection and The Bird’s unique Dining Domes experience goes live from Wednesday 2 December, I probably sorta will.

That’s the festive season handed to you on a plate at Plate, then.

New Bath restaurant opening: Boho Marché

Brand new restaurant venture Boho Marché – which promises to “bring the exotic warmth and flavours of Morocco and the Mediterranean to the heart of Bath” – is poised to open its doors at the Francis Hotel (Queens Square) on Thursday 3 December.

What will it look like? “Like a never-ending summer, fusing Parisian café culture with lush tropical greenery, Andalusian floral walkways and punctuated with cues from the infinitely stylish era of the 1970s in Marrakech.”

What’s on the menu? “Modern, playful Mediterranean and Moroccan dishes bursting with colour and flavours from shakshuka to Moroccan butternut curry, truffle tagliatelle, sharing steaks and indulgent desserts.”

What does The Pig have to say about all this? “Bring. It. On!”

So…

expect a full review of our impending fact-finding mission to be published at our earliest opportunity.

Mini review: Thoughtful Bakery Pizzas

Since the start of the original lockdown, Thoughtful Bakery has kept Bathonians supplied with dairy, pantry and larder essentials, fresh ready meals and, of course, a delectable range of fabulous bread and associated sweet treat delights, all available ‘live’ from the bakery’s Barton Street HQ or via click’n’collect/home delivery. Access to the regularly-updated array is so easy that treating the bakery as a one-stop shop for pretty much everything we need to get through the week isn’t a stretch too far. But while staying in is the new going out, there’s one thing that few people can cope without… and now, we don’t have to.

Thoughtful Bakery’s pizzas prove that not all click’n’collect pizzas are equal. There are currently five on the menu, cleverly covering all, erm, bases (all of which are sourdough, by the way) and including a sumptuous vegan version, all priced at £9-£10. We opted for a mash-up of the tantalising Hot & Smoky because the promise of proper Ndjua and properly smoked mozzarella (both made/smoked in-house) is a rare treat indeed, paired with a caper- and anchovy-laden Napolitana on the basis that a blast of piquancy would be a good balance for the smoky sorcerer. Both came fully-loaded with toppings so well-balanced that none of the components were given a chance to play the Prima Donna, on bases that kicked and charred and in all the right places and at a box temperature that refused to drop on the journey home, even on a chilly evening. We dipped our crusts into what’s possibly the most garlicky aioli I’ve ever encountered from a side menu that includes homemade ‘slaw, chilli oil, mayonnaise and garlic bread (all of which are vegan, by the way.) We drank a bottle of Honey’s Stoney Bonk cider and a can of Electric Bear’s Zorbing and finished our feast with a light but super-creamy tiramisu and a Vegan Surprise that I pretty much refused to share because it was chocolate ganache heaven in-a-pot… and we finished off our puds for breakfast the next day, because that’s how Thoughtful Bakery’s portions roll.

Thoughtful Bakery pizzas are available to pre-order and click’n’collect every Thursday-Saturday evening, but be warned: available slots fill up very quickly indeed… especially now that doughnuts have been added to the dessert menu too.

Lockdown Larder #2: the essential guide to food and drink shopping in Bath

Food First (for Takeaway/home delivery, Cafes, Treats & Gifts, Drinks and Community Initiatives, scroll down the page):

Thoughtful Bakery: dairy, pantry and larder essentials, ready meals and, of course, the most fabulous bread and associated sweet treat delights for miles around available ‘live, (the shop will remain open throughout lockdown) or click’n’collect/home delivery

Larkhall Butchers: Top notch, marvellous meat alongside fish, dairy produce and pantry goodies IRL at Larkhall Butchers (paying full respect to social distancing rules, of course) or via doorstep delivery

Lovejoys: delivery services to takeaway kitchens, farm shops, care homes and schools will remain unaffected. Meanwhile, a box delivery service will be available to the general public via the website

Darling Deli: home cooked fresh and frozen meals-to-go plus bread, fresh meat, coffee, cakes and more, including a fresh curry every week (available to collect from Wednesdays)

Newton Farm: home delivery service for those over 70 or those who are self-isolating as they (or someone they live with) fall in to the vulnerable category, plus those who are self-isolating as a household and NHS frontline workers

Ma Cuisine: French gourmet frozen meals in fresh and frozen format, all available for doorstep delivery or click’n’collect from their Larkhall HQ

The Warmley Bakehouse: the shop will remain open and retail, wholesale and home deliveries services are available

Arthur David: home delivery of all kinds of everything to domestic customers in the BA and BS postcode areas

Avellinos Italian Deli: an abundance of pasta, passata and tinned tomatoes lining the shelves, alongside pestos, jams, oils, Italian eggs, Italian sausages, ’00’ flour by the scoop and much more. Gloves and hand gel are available for every customer (no more than two at a time)

Nibbles Cheese (Guildhall Market): open 9am-4pm Monday-Saturday. Click’n’collect/delivery service (free over £50) and fabulous Cheese Gift Boxes also available

The Fine Cheese Co: fabulous fromage, chic charcuterie, wonderful wines and more. UK-wide mail order delivery services available too, free to orders £50+. See also Cafes.

Bath Farmers’ Market (Green Park Station) will remain open every Saturday morning from 9am-1.30pm, just like it did throughout the first lockdown. Shop from myriad local traders all gathered together under one weather-proof roof in a super-safe environment

The Kingsmead Square Stall will remain open for business with the usual fruit and veg supplemented by eggs, pasta, etc. Current opening hours are Monday, Friday and Saturday only (8am-2pm) but proprietor Daniel Weisberg is happy to take click and collect/next day delivery orders via text on 07872 574513. Meanwhile, New Stokes (Moorland Road) are offering a next day delivery service (minimum order £20; £3 delivery charge) – and, as legions of Stokes supporters are aware, there’s a heck of a lot more than fruit and veg available; email bath@newstokes.co.uk or call 07838 943056 for details

Takeaway/home delivery

The Scallop Shell: reverting from eat-in only back to takeaway for the duration of the second lockdown. Hoorah!

The Oyster Shell: the ultimate comfort food available for home delivery/click’n’collect

Yak Yeti Yak: utterly fabulous home delivery service available for click’n’collect every Friday-Saturday between 5pm-8pm; read the menu here, call 01225 442299 from 5pm every evening to order

The Peking Restaurant: takeaway and home delivery service 6pm-10pm, 15% reduction on restaurant menu prices on website 

Yum Yum Thai: open for takeaway yum yum yumminess – order by phone or click’n’collect. Free prawn crackers with every order!

The Longs Arms (South Wraxall): the most amazing burgers (fact!) including The Raymond, The Kenneth and The Gandhi; proper fish and chip suppers every Friday; pie and mash on Saturdays; veggie options available; all £14. Orders must be placed the day before collection – email info@thelongsarms.com or call 01225 864450

The Mint Room: home delivery and/or click’n’collect – call the restaurant direct on 01225 446656

Ping at Home: freshly prepared ready meal extravaganza curated by MasterChef winner Ping Coombes – order by 6pm on Tuesday, collect from Larkhall Butchers on Friday afternoon/Saturday morning. Email athome@pingcoombes.com for full details and/or read our review here

Whatley Manor (nr. Malmesbury): Superchef (and Great British Menu winner) Niall Keating’s ‘Paradise Carriage‘ open for takeaway on Friday 6/Saturday 7 November from 4pm-8pm, Sunday 8 November from 1pm-8pm then every Wednesday-Sunday throughout lockdown. Visit website or call 01666 822888 to pre-order

Noya’s Kitchen: Dishes to Go available for collection every Thursday and Friday

Schwartz Bros: Saw Close open 12noon-9pm – click’n’collect via the website or order by phone on 01225 461726/07791 806717. Walcot Street open Sunday-Thursday 5pm-9pm; Friday-Saturday 12noon-9pm – click’n’collect via the website or order by phone on 01225 463613/07791 747264

The Pizza Bike: “The Smallest Pizzeria in the World” is poised for click’n’collect/home delivery from their mini HQ in the the back garden of The Bell (Walcot Street) every Friday/Saturday, 4pm-9pm

The Bath Pizza Co: click’n’collect (visit website for opening hours)

The Ring O’Bells (Widcombe): Fish and chips every Friday (home delivery only) – call 01225 7727599 or email enquiries@ringobellsbath.com to order. Guinness, Moreti, Amstel real ale and draft cider served through the open window in 2/4 pint containers

Simi’s Kitchen: unique (and super-tasty) virtual Supper Club for up to 25 people every Friday evening (£25pp) – the sociable part (via Zoom) is optional; the eating isn’t!

Demuths at Home: order by midnight on Thursdays and pick up an exciting, freshly prepared vegan meal on a globally-inspired theme (plus all the relevant sides and trimmings) from Demuths’ Terrace Walk HQ on Saturday afternoon (£20pp)

Bath Fish and Chips: click’n’collect/home delivery services (via Deliveroo) Tuesday-Wednesday 4pm-9pm; Thursday-Saturday 12noon-9pm

Cafes/Delis

Best of British Deli (Broad Street): open 9am-3pm Monday-Friday for takeaway coffee, tea, hot chocolate, bespoke sandwiches, freshly baked cakes and bacon butties

Mús Coffee Shop (Widcombe): open for takeaways, pick-me-ups and general bonhomie from 7.30am-2pm Monday-Saturday

Widcombe Deli: open for takeaway Monday-Saturday 8.30am-2pm

Larkhall Deli: open for takeaway Monday-Saturday 8.30am-2pm

Fox & Kit Cafe: open for takeaway toasted ciabattas, soup, sourdough rolls, children’s menu, cakes, hot and cold drinks etc Friday-Sunday 10am-3pm. Family friendly Lockdown ‘Kids’ Survival’ Boxes for local delivery and/or click’n’collect in the pipeline

The Good Bear Cafe (Bear Flat): takeaway sandwiches, cakes, drinks and more, Monday-Saturday 9am-2pm

Rosarios: takeaway soup, panini, arancini, coffee, cakes and more. Monday-Saturday 9.30am-3pm

Juicy Orange (Weston): open for takeaway hot drinks, milkshakes, smoothes, treats and essential foods Monday-Saturday. Coffee and other hot drinks at special rates for litter pickers every Saturday

Guildhall Deli (Guildhall Market): open for deli-cious business as usual from 10am-3pm Monday-Saturday

The Fine Cheese Co: cafe open alongside the shop for takeaway coffee and related cafe-counter scrumptiousness-to-go

Treats, gifts and pick-me-ups

The Fudge Factory: mail order service available via the website

No 3 Cafe: Lockdown Boxes including Posh Ploughmans, Afternoon Tea, Vegan Grazing and Sweet Dripping Dipping selections for just £10, available for collection or free delivery to BA1 Monday-Friday; message @SarararaCoffee to order

Sugarcane Studio: open for superb, unique, supremely pretty sweet treats to takeaway, plus weekly selection box delivery

Sweet Little Things: daily afternoon tea deliveries and celebration hampers within a 15 mile radius of Lower Borough Walls; order online or email mail@sltbath.co.uk

The Wheat Free Kitchen: open for bespoke gluten free cake orders and deliveries throughout Bath

Cheers!

Abbey Ales: free delivery to addresses within a 10-mile radius of Bath every Monday-Friday

Novel Wines: free delivery (no minimum order) to BA1/BA2

Great Western Wine: wine (obvs) alongside spirits, veggie/vegan/low or no alcohol selection, plus great gifts (UK-wide delivery), olive oils and vinegars too

Independent Spirit: Independent Spirit is an Aladdin’s Cave of alcohol-based treasure – and their website is the Genie’s Lamp

Wolf Wines: exciting wines you’ll wanna wolf down, including fabulous vegan, organic and natural varietals, beers and ciders too

The Ring O’Bells (Widcombe): Guinness, Moreti, Amstel real ale and draft cider served through the open window in 2/4 pint containers. FFI, call 01225 7727599 or email enquiries@ringobellsbath.com

Community Initiatives

The Bath and NE Somerset Third Sector Group 3SG has bought a host of local partners, charities, residents, students and businesses together to create a Compassionate Community to support everybody during difficult times. On the food front (just one element of the incredible work that 3SG is doing), the team have collaborated with the Sustainable Food Partnership to generate a regularly-updated list of local providers offering food services to people across Bath and north east Somerset

FoodCycle Bath offers a free, nutritious, freshly-cooked meal for collection from Nexus Methodist Church (Nelson Place) every Wednesday between 7.30pm-8.30pm

Age UK B&NES are offering a lunchtime delivery of a hot meal for people living in B&NES direct to the person’s door, seven days per week. A main course and a dessert costs just £6.50; click on this link for the daily menu. Specific dietary requirements can be accommodated, including low sugar, gluten free, and textured meals for those who find it difficult to swallow. To order, email communitymeals@ageukwiltshire.org.uk or call 01793 687017

Bath Foodbank centres are closed until further notice, but e-vouchers are allowing people in need to have food parcels delivered to their homes via a contact-free delivery service. The service is currently in dire need of cereal, baked beans, tinned tomatoes/vegetables/meat/fish/soup/fruit/rice pudding, packet soup, pasta and jars of pasta sauce, UHT milk, long life juice, chocolate and biscuits, instant mash, coffee, hand wash, soap and shower gel

Unique Afternoon Tea treats at the Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa

We never need to find an excuse for Afternoon Tea at the Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa… but y’know, when fizz is involved, who’s complaining? Raise your pinkie and take Afternoon Tea at Bath’s most iconic hotel any Monday-Thursday from 2-26 November and receive a complimentary glass of Champagne to make your afternoon delight go with a swing; simply use the offer code WEEKDAY TREAT when making that all-important booking by phone on 01225 823 333 or by emailing info@royalcrescent.co.uk

But the treats don’t end when the last cork has been popped. Revisit the RC for Afternoon Tea again (and why wouldn’t you?) between Friday 27-Wednesday 23 December and leave with a handmade wreath courtesy of owner of The LANE Floristry Emily Clarke, who is poised to create a bespoke, luxury wreath to order then deliver it to the hotel ready for you to collect on the day of your visit. This unique festive package costs £95pp to include a Champagne Afternoon Tea plus that beautiful wreath. Please note that, as every wreath is made bespoke to order, the hotel requires a minimum of four days’ notice before your visit, and booking is essential; to book, email info@royalcrescent.co.uk, or call 01225 823333 today.

Halloween vs Day of The Dead at Las Iguanas

Celebrate the best of two (unearthly!) worlds at Las Iguanas towards the end of October, when Halloween collides with the vibrant, colourful Mexican Day of the Dead celebration that honours, respects and demonstrates enduring love for those who have shuffled off this mortal coil.

Dust off your spookiest fancy dress and go wild with a spooky-themed Boo-ttomless Brunch consisting of a starter and main course with unlimited prosecco or draught beer for just £24.95 Sunday-Friday 12noon-5pm and from 12noon-3pm on Saturday (last bookings 3pm/1pm respectively.) You can, if you so wish, upgrade your brunch to add Bloody Mojitos or Bloody Caipirinhas to your drink options for just £5pp extra – las aclamaciones indeed!

Further upping the party-on ante, all cocktails and mocktails are 2-for-1 every day during the spooky season, while the brand new limited edition Halloween special that is the Mexican Pornstar – a thrilling combination of Olmeca Blanco tequila, passion fruit Malibu lime, vanilla and pineapple – will be on the menu from Wednesday 28 October-Monday 2 November. There’s nothing scary about that, is there?

For full details on all this and more lovely Las Iguanas news, click here.

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.