March 8 2015

New owners, new vibe, new chef at the richmond arms


Like many Bathonians, The Pig breathed a sigh of relief when news broke that the future of the characterful, historic Richmond Arms pub (Richmond Place, Lansdown) was finally secured back in autumn 2014. Local residents who launched the ‘Save the Richmond Arms’ campaign had attracted the interest of a team of entrepreneurs including Rupert Moreton and Jamie Rockman, who bought the pub and reopened for business last October. Today, the pub is thriving under independent ownership, offering a properly warm community vibe as standard. The food is rather special too, courtesy of smart young chef Jacob Finnis, who honed his skills at the Seven Stars (Winsley) before taking over the hob at the Richmond Arms.

Jacob is one of those chefs who most definitely isn’t afraid of pushing bold flavours to the fore on a menu that dances along to the locally sourced, strictly seasonal beat. On the evening we sallied forth to investigate the Richmond’s charms, starters of sturdy pork fillet terrine and a beetroot, butternut squash, spinach and goats’ cheese risotto were substantial enough to be lunchtime superstars in their own right, while Mr Pig’s main course of braised feather-blade of beef served with sweet potato gratin, fresh horseradish and parsley veal veloute served as a timely, on-trend reminder of just how fresh and vibrant “forgotten” cuts of meat can taste when cooked with such attention to detail and teamed with perfectly balanced flavours. My roulade of chicken, meanwhile, positively thrummed with flavour: a pillow of soft, white poultry wrapped in lightly smoked bacon, stuffed with fresh tomatoes, spinach and goats’ cheese and bathed in a tantalising chorizo sauce that I personally would have been happy to slurp as a stand-alone broth. Did we have desserts? Oh of course we did – and we recommend that you do too: my homemade rum and raisin ice cream was totally dreamy, while Mr P declared his treacle and orange tart to be pudding perfection. Good work, Jacob!

Our Richmond Arms supper was a feisty, flavoursome feast that artfully walked the tightrope that lies between proper pub grub and upper-crust restaurant standards with apparent ease (I have it on good authority from a local regular at the bar that the fish and chips are a joy to behold, while the Sunday roasts are garnering a legendary reputation). Prices are accessible, service is absolutely charming and, when the sun finally starts doing its job again, the lovely little garden to the front of the pub is set to become one of the coolest good times hotspots around. The Richmond Arms: wrap yourself around it and give it the great big hug it deserves.

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