Acorn vegetarian kitchen
certainly not short on flair, inspiration or fabulosity
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The grooviest chefs in the kitchens of Bath’s best restaurants increasingly offer a splendid array of face-free dishes designed to appeal to all-comers, not only committed anti-carnivores; after all, what a chef can do without meat is often more interesting than what he or she does with it. Meanwhile, vegetarian dishes will always, by their very nature, be fashionable in the true sense of the word, being wholly subject to the whims and vagaries of the seasons and totally reliant on the price and accessibility of local produce.
Partly as a result of all these machinations but largely due to his inimitable skills, AVK proprietor Richard Buckley’s menus (curated by recently-appointed head chef Steven Yates, whose previous experience in the kitchens at both the Bath Priory Hotel and Sienna, Dorchester, clearly shines through) may be strictly meat-free, but they’re certainly not short on flair, inspiration or fabulosity. Surroundings, vibe and ambience are equally cheerful too: this charming contemporary bistro set on one of the oldest (and prettiest) traffic-free lanes in Bath is one of those places where you could happily pop in for a speedy workday refuel, linger long over a sumptuous supper a deux or party on with friends, secure in the knowledge that the friendly, knowledgeable staff are poised to offer you a warm welcome, whatever the occasion.
We recently indulged in a seasonal blowout (from the 2-course/£26.50, 3/£33 set menu) that included a velvety split pea soup with salt baked celeriac and orange zaatar; plush slow-roasted artichokes with a rich sunflower seed butter offset by zingy slivers of pink grapefruit; a creamy pine nut and squash risotto that made me rethink my erstwhile longstanding estrangement from brussel sprouts (they were in the mix too, along with garlic and lemon zest); and the deceptively simply-titled Leek and Potato – a dish which had me waxing lyrical about the best smoked cheese I’d ever tasted, which actually turned out to be smoked potato, pureed into sublimely silky submission, served with sweet, caramelised leeks. We had fabulous puds, too: Acorn’s legendary salted chocolate tart with peanut butter sorbet (just lush!) and an elegantly complex white chocolate pannacotta with poached beetroot, blood orange, cinder toffee and beetroot ice cream – very modern, very cheffy, but distinctly, most definitely unstuffy. The drinks list too is equally urbane, putting organic wines from small producers, locally-sourced craft beers and ciders, intriguing infusions, gregarious gins and seasonal cocktails in the spotlight. For AVC, you see, is most definitely not one of those dull, tub-thumping, holier-than-thou vegetarian restaurants of days gone by; if you expect a side order of sanctimony with your celeriac or a self-righteous mission statement to digest over your digestif, you’ve come to the wrong place. If, however, you’d like to know what’s happening right here, right now on the vegetarian chef-led calendar, you’ve most definitely found destination’s end – mighty oaks from little acorns grow, and the Acorn experience is a mighty fine treat indeed.
- Gluten free options
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