December 15 2013

Pig review: GPT Smokehouse

It is with great delight and huge dollop of cheer that The Pig offers a very warm welcome to the GPT Smokehouse on Lower Bristol Road: a lovely, lively, ultra-cool venture that’s breathed new life into the former Green Park Tavern site and represents a new dawn for brothers Robbie and Jamie Tack, whose original business (Banglo) was destroyed by a devastating fire earlier this year. Is it appropriate to mention a phoenix rising from the ashes at this juncture? The Pig thinks so. It’s also appropriate to point out – although I’m aware that legions of Piggies (former Bath students in particular) may not agree with me here – that in recent years, the Green Park Tavern had taken a serious dive. It may have offered wallet-friendly grub and a lively entertainment schedule, but your feet stuck to the sticky carpet when you tried to make your way to the bar, the walls were grimier than the inside of a wheely bin and the “beer garden” emanated a permanent whiff of eau de vom.

But not any more.

After what must have been the ultimate Kim’n’Aggie-style cleaning campaign, this low-slung, spacious, elegantly sprawling building is now a paean to quirky, “third space” modernity: wooden floors, funky furniture, brightly painted brickwork, artwork on the walls and a sparkling bar at the epicentre of the action all combine to create a very warm welcome indeed. And get this, foodies! There’s an authentic, all-American, proper Smoker lurking behind the scenes, giving the GPT Smokehouse it’s name (duh!) and making this the only place in Bath (I think?) where we can Pig out on meat and fish that’s actually smoked on site. But vegetarians need not look away now. On the night we visited, The Pig was almost tempted to step away from the pulled pork, baby back ribs, “Dirty Burgers”, sliders and smoked chicken on the menu and go for the salacious superfood salad instead, or even a comforting mac’n’cheese (what’s not to love?). But hey-ho, it was a cold night, and we will be back (with vegetarians in tow), so the lure of that smokehouse chicken (a whole half chicken, bathed in real barbecue sauce and served with coleslaw and potato wedges) and those rolickin’ ribs just couldn’t be overlooked.

While we waited for our main course action, we enjoyed starters of crispy sweetcorn and jalapeno fritters with smoked paprika, and fat but distinctly un-fatty flakes of smoked salmon. Either option would have constituted a more-than-satisfactory stand-alone lunch (a GPTS option that mustn’t be ruled out – we’re on proper neighbourhood diner territory here, with all the required round-the-clock refuelling options perfectly in place), and both gently flaunted the intrinsic element that, Smoker aside, is firmly at the heart of the Tack brother’s USP: The Pig makes no apologies for sentiment by stating that this grub tastes like it’s made with lurve. And the boys lurved us back! We made a special request for a taster of the pulled pork that’s already become the stuff of legend amongst the Bath Twitterati, and our barefaced cheek was richly rewarded: if spicy, moist, moreish pulled pork is your thing, you’ve come to the right place. But then again, if really, really good chicken gets you clucking, or your tastebuds are tickled by ribs, or seasoned fries represent the spice of life (sorry, can’t think of a suitable terrible pun for the wedges or the coleslaw, so you’ll just have to trust us when we tell you that they’re both very good), you’ve reached journey’s end. Prices, meanwhile, won’t offer any nasty jolts at your destination: starters come in circa £6 (with nibbly bits at half the price), mains fluctuate around £10-12, and hearty sharing options abound.

Bath really needs the GPT Smokehouse. There’s been way too much franchise fanfare and chain cheerleading going on in the city of late, and too much emphasis on glamorous chefs and chic cocktail hotspots overall. The GPT Smokehouse, however, could teach the lot of them a thing or two about how a bar and kitchen should be run. Yup, The Pig loves it – and we bet you will too. 

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