November 4 2021

Pig Guide review: Dining Domes at The Bird

Seeing is believing. But sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see”: thus spake The Conductor in Robert Zemeckis’ 2004 modern classic Christmas film The Polar Express… and that’s the quote that immediately came to mind when I walked through the little gate off the car park to the rear of the The Bird, one of Ian and Christa Taylor’s Kaleidoscope Collection of thoroughly unique, independent hotels.

I couldn’t see – and therefore had no idea – of the delights that were in store for me before I walked through that gate off the car park. But I knew from the off that I was in for some kind of sensory treat as I’ve seen The Bird transform over the years, from pop-up beach vibe to pop-up Christmas Tavern and party zone depending on the season. In 2020, The Bird introduced us to Plate: the on-site, subtly glamorous, wittily flamboyant restaurant headed up by superchef Leon Smith. Each of those experiences have, in their own individual ways, amazed, surprised and delighted. But in putting the finishing touches to their Dining Domes – one part super-chic, luxurious space age pod, one part London Eye-style capsule booth, all parts a uniquely beautiful outside/inside experience – The Bird has flown imagination to stellar heights.

Each Dome is beautifully decorated with sparkling bauble chandeliers, soft lighting and seasonal table centrepieces artfully wrought from leaves, berries and twigs. Opulent fur throws are thoughtfully arranged over the back of the plush velvet chairs but it’s unlikely that you’ll need to use one for more than a glamorous comforter, as very effective heating makes each little pod warm, cosy and inviting, even on the first super-chilly evening of the season. Within moments of taking to one of those plush seats, you’ll find yourself raising a glass of the Champagne Taittinger that comes as standard before your feast – and in this instance, the word ‘feast’ is an understatement. And so it began…

A shiny disc of garlic confit salmon, smooth as silk, with neat little blobs of something horseradish-y and creamy to offset the rich, smoky flavour of the fish. Mild, featherlight quenelles of goats’ curd dotted with caviar, the plate pooled with fresh pesto. A whole baked Bath Soft Cheese, soft and yielding beneath its bloomy rind, wafting and oozing that intrinsic earthy, mushroomy Bath Soft Cheese ‘personality’ the moment it hit the table. There was silky charcuterie, too – Bresaola, Ibérico, chorizo, Capocollo, salami, Prosciutto Crudo, with pickles and chutney – and hearty wedges of Bertinet sourdough, and divine butter (yes, butter can indeed be divine), and massive, juicy Kalamata olives, and smoked, toasted almonds… and this spread, dear reader, constituted only the starter.

The wine flowed, the door of our Dome slid open again, and in came… a whole Brixham plaice, dotted with capers and shards of samphire, laminated with a brown shrimp and lemon butter sauce. Super-tender Himalayan salt dry-aged Chateaubriand with roast carrots, and pickled shallots, and peppercorn sauce. Wild mushroom and truffle pappardelle oozing with intensely nutty Old Winchester cheese. And, y’know, just in case: The Bird’s own, very special mac’n’cheese; a big bowl of sautéed Bromham greens; truffle and Parmesan triple-cooked chips; “no-dig” salad… our table was laden, our senses were bombarded, we were having dinner at the sanest, most stylish Mad Hatter’s Tea Party yet to be directed by Tim Burton. And then, the chocolate truffles arrived at the same time as the the Wild Berry and Passionfruit Trifle, and the Somerset cheese board with chutney and crackers… and our eyes were bigger than our bellies, so I asked for a very down-to-earth doggie bag, and of course – like all our we could ever ask for or want throughout the evening – my wish was very gracefully granted.

This whole, fabulously fantastical feast – yes, all of it – costs just £60pp to include the magical surroundings, the almost other-worldly, dreamlike vibe, the richly detailed décor, the service that makes you feel like a red carpet superstar and more, more, more of so much more on an extraordinarily enchanted theme, all wrapped up in one utterly spellbinding package.

Seeing is believing. But sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see”: the Dining Domes at The Bird represent magic made real.

The Small Print: Dining Domes at The Bird are designed to accommodate a minimum of 4 guests and a maximum of eight. Lunch: £45pp, Afternoon Tea: £35pp, Dinner: £60pp. Children aged 12 and under dine at half price. Should you wish to hire a dome for less than four people, a hire charge of £100 will apply. Booking is essential. Meanwhile (yes, there’s more!): from Saturday 27 November, discover The Bird’s Alpine Lodge and Bar, serving cocktails, sharing platters and other festive delights in a cosy chalet environment every day from 12noon-late

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