chic without being ostentatious; debonair but most definitely not aloof
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This smart little French bistro on Argyle Street/Pulteney Bridge opened its doors in the autumn of 2016, bringing a fabulously tasteful blast of “ooh la la!” to one of the prettiest streets in the city. Visit today, and there’s no hint of the restaurant being a relative newcomer. For a start, the acclaim that Chez Dominique has already garnered (including an entry in the 2018 Good Food Guide alongside multiple, prestigious local awards) is the stuff that many long-established, erm, establishments still wait with bated breath for. But even aside from all that, it’s the confidently friendly, welcoming vibe that belies the restaurant’s short history; you feel as though you’re taking to a table in Benoit, or Au Comptoir du Relais, rather than just around the corner from the Bath branch of Waitrose.
Offering an ambience that, in true Parisian style, could best be described as elegantly informal from the off, this mini oasis of Gallic delight fully lives up to it’s ‘authentically French’ USP. Decor throughout offers a stylish, well-considered backdrop (candlelight reflected against lots of rich, dark wood; an understatedly fabulous contemporary chandelier adding understatedly fabulous bling to the whole affair) that offers broad appeal whatever the occasion, from languid lunches to proper parties by way of plenty of cosy corners for that romantic, candlelit dinner a deux, supplemented by an intimate private dining room to the rear of the restaurant that offers views across the weir. Meanwhile, unobtrusive background music croons softly through subtly-placed speakers and a seductive aroma of real home cooking further boosts the anticipation of a French feast to come… and when it comes to feasting, you’re most definitely in capable hands here.
Chef/proprietor Chris Tabbit came to Bath following an executive chef role at highly-acclaimed Bowood House. He runs Chez Dominique with his partner Sarah Olivier, and they named the restaurant after their son Dominic – how sweet is that? Anyway… Chris’s menus change frequently according to local market availability and seasonal themes, and cleverly offer something for all tastes whether you’re after a carni-themed blowout or a light, meat-free repast.
On our most recent visit, a starter of luxuriantly silky pork belly served with a tantalisingly sweet/sharp salad of apple, capers and fennel can only be described as heavenly, while a second starter of tender, peppered, seared venison, creamy celeriac remoulade and seductively moreish, lesser-spotted, fully authentic Monégasque onions proved to be a captivating combination.
For mains, there were dishes based around sea bass, beef short rib, English Rose Veal, Var salmon and classic steak frites on the beautifully-balanced a la carte menu, but we took Chez Dom maître d’ Julian’s advice (Julian is lovely; make sure you meet him) and opted to share Chateaubriand, from the Specials Board – and mon dieu! It was amazing: meltingly tender, subtly decadent and perfectly medium-rare, served with a tumble of earthy mushrooms, a massive pile of proper pommes frites and a jug of deeply complex red wine sauce, it’s the benchmark against which all encounters with Chateaubriand will now be judged. We had puds, too (purely in the name of thorough research, you understand) – a divine hot chocolate fondant served with an equally divine boule of salted caramel ice cream, and a textbook-perfect, classic caramelised pear tatin with vanilla ice cream.
Now the dishes we had may not be on the menu when you visit (which you must, and soon.) But we’re confident that whatever menu array you encounter, you too will be as satisfied – and downright impressed – as we were. A la carte dishes are exceedingly well-priced for the quality and generous portion sizes on offer, while the Prix Fixe menu (Monday-Saturday 12noon-3pm and 5.30-6.30pm; Sunday 12noon-3.30pm and 6pm-7pm; 2-courses £14; 3/£17) offers French bistro classics (including, right now, a fabulous starter of crispy buttermilk chicken livers on toast and a main of onglet steak with Roquefort butter and pommes frites) at bargain prices, and Sunday Lunch (served 12noon-3.30pm) has earned legendary status around these yer parts.
In summary, Chez Dominique offers an effortlessly charming, well-priced, supremely welcoming modern French bistro experience: chic without being ostentatious, debonair but most definitely not aloof – all in all, a très bon nouveau vieil ami indeed.
- Wheelchair access ,
- Free wifi available ,
- Gluten free options