October 6 2021

Pig Guide review: The Mint Room

Petrol queues, irate taxi drivers, new students moving in, out and generally shaking it all about. Storm clouds threatening to break, confused tourists asking if St James Cemetery is part of Bath Abbey… and then, a broken-down bus: last Thursday evening on Lower Bristol Road was hardly what you’d call a relaxing experience.

But all the while, while negotiating the thrum (and please bear with me on this apparently random segue), there was a little song playing in the back of my head: “there’s a place for us, somewhere a place for us; peace and quiet and open air, wait for us somewhere…” …and the earworm was right.

If you haven’t visited The Mint Room recently, there’s yet more reason to catch yourself up than ever before. The restaurant’s head honchos have recently revamped their super-smart rooftop bar, replacing the sofas with stylish bar furniture, shifting the bar itself around to offer yet more space, bringing the edges of the tensile roof down to ward off chills, and installing plenty of very effective heaters to double-down on making the inside/outside vibe not only viable but properly inviting, whatever the season.

And that’s where our ‘place for us’ on our most recent Mint Room foray began: at an elegantly-dressed table up on the roof (yup, there’s another ear-worm waiting to happen here) where we enjoyed classy cocktails from the classy cocktail menu accompanied by The Mint Room’s very special take on street food: a Deconstructed Punjabi Samosa so beautiful that I’d be happy to have a full-size photo of it on my wall at home; puffed rice with toasted peanuts, tamarind and mint chutney; Pani Puri with chickpeas, diced potato, pomegranate seeds and tamarind water, which you can down in one or nibble slowly (at this point, I’ll leave it up to you decide which of our table for two did what.)

As gracious as our rooftop party was, it was soon time to descend into the restaurant ‘proper’ where soft hues based on a latte/cappuccino palate provide a chic, flattering backdrop for the tasteful bling (glittery walls; flickering candlelight) that adds yet more glamour to the whole experience – and our starters (two of each, each; Mr Pig and I don’t do things by halves) were equally alluring: tender lamb chops marinated in Punjabi spices with Sweet Potato Shami; an utterly divine Keralan Sea Bass Moilee that put a region renowned for its coastal harvest, soporific coconut-based sauces and temperate, subtle spices in the spotlight, resulting in a truly magical dish indeed.

After a palate-cleansing mango sorbet, a trio of curries including sweetly spicy Delhi ‘old style’ Butter Chicken (Somerset Tandoori Chicken Tikka? Yes, really!) and deeply flavoursome Beef Chettinad arrived, accompanied by fluffy saffron pilau and and buttery, super-fresh garlic naan…like, WOW? Indeed! Sumptuous, extravagant, sophisticated flamboyant – we weren’t just having a good time; we were, quite simply, in good food nirvana, with the sweet stuff at the end of our feast (highlight: the sweet, sticky, fun-fun-fun ‘Indian doughnuts’ that are Gulab Jamun; densely creamy, rosewater-infused Pistachio Kulfi; a beautifully-constructed ‘grown up’ layered chocolate gateau that I apologise profusely for forgetting the formal title of) dotting and crossing all the i’s and t’s that The Mint Room had already perfectly punctuated.

Our early nibbles rank amongst the best prandial preludes we’ve ever encountered in any restaurant in Bath, while the rest of our banquet can only be described as positively stellar, a sentiment aided and abetted by the kind of artful presentation that’s almost criminal to disturb. Competent, confident and audaciously inspirational, Head Chef Soyful Alom and his team are masters of the art of modern Indian cookery at its very, very best.

You can either dine at The Mint Room like a Maharaja (the wine list is suitably stately too), pop in for a simple Rogan Josh and a Cobra, or bypass the food altogether and chill out (but not, as we’ve already established, literally) on the rooftop terrace. But whichever way you choose to do it, you’ll pay far, far less than you’d expect to fork out for the outstanding quality on offer – and gain a far, far more memorable experience than I’d wager you’ve had in a restaurant in a very long time.

Hold my hand and I’ll take you there…” Or, just book a table for yourself, right now; you won’t regret it.

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