perfectly-balanced flavours and quality seasonal ingredients at the forefront of proceedings at all times; every dish a beautifully-presented delight
As this smart little gastropub thrives under the illustrious ownership of The Bath Pub Company, one knows for sure that we’re in for a good time here; indeed, the setting bodes well from the moment we step through the door and, straight away, digest the calm, understated design-led flourishes that liven up the stylish, relaxed surroundings. Yup, The Chequers is most definitely an ‘all good’ experience. What lifts this well-heeled bar and dining room up, up and away from gastropub experiences in the near vicinity, however, is what’s going on in the kitchen… and there’s some rather exciting news to share on this subject.
As of early summer 2019, new head chef Ross Harper has subtly introduced a gentle metamorphosis to menus that have long since enjoyed an outstanding reputation for foodie fabulosity, working to a strict ethos of “putting flavour first” and using the very best seasonal produce he can get his hands on.
While the ‘Classics’ menu selection cheerfully promotes upper-crust pub fare (real burgers; proper fish and chips; superb steaks; risotto; etc,) seductive little hints of Ross’s cooking style and personality subtly dance around both the daily-changing lunchtime menu (Monday-Saturday, 2/3 courses £16/£19.50 – and there are few, if any, places in Bath where you can find this standard of food served at this price at this hour of the day) and the dinnertime a la carte. Meanwhile, Sunday roasts (including fabulous sharing feasts) are a glorious extravaganza in their own right, making refuelling here far from being an occasional treat – it just so happens that you can live it up in fine (dining) style or hole up in distinctly downhome territory all under one stylish, welcoming roof whenever the mood strikes.
But if you want the full-on, up-close-and-personal introduction to the tantalising new kid on the Rivers Street block, then the Tasting Menu is where the magic really happens.
Book in advance any Monday-Friday evening and, for £55 (upgradeable to include an optional wine flight which really shouldn’t be overlooked for an additional £25), you get seven utterly magical courses that I absolutely guarantee you’ll remember for a very long time to come.
How could you forget the taste and texture of almost meltingly ripe heritage tomatoes served with Bloody Mary mousse and deeply umami parmesan shortbread, even though this dish was served at the very start of your prandial journey? How could you allow the fond recollection of a ruby red nugget of juicy, roasted wood pigeon breast accompanied by a nest of apricot, tarragon, quinoa and braised chicory, the whole thing offset by a fluffy but crisp goats’ cheese beignet, to be consigned to the ‘forgotten’ file? Even if you, like me, identify as a pigeon non-fancier, you’ll fly away with – rather than from – this dish. A sweet, fresh mini-slab of hake was further enlivened by a melange of lemon- and dill-infused lentils vibrant enough to be enjoyed as a stand-alone main course while creamy brown crab mayonnaise added a luxuriously indulgent edge to proceedings. Soft, pink, herb-crusted lamb rump came with a deeply, deeply rich and flavoursome mini Shepherd’s Pie, and beetroot and mint did that did that earthy/vivacious double-act thing to the palate, and heritage carrots that tasted of proper carrots, perfectly properly cooked, bringing further sweetness and light to the party.
But after all that – and before a smooth dark chocolate terrine with super-aerated honeycomb that didn’t do that horrible ‘stick-to-your-teeth’ thing bought the curtain down – I had the dish that will forever be remembered as my ultimate Chequers/Harper-induced Proustian moment. If you think lemon posset with meringue, sherbet and cheesecake is a familiar concept, please, please Try This Dish, then try this quote for size: “no sooner had it touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me…” Yup, it was that good.
Whoops, sorry, I’ve gone a bit lit-arty here – but this is the effect that chef such as Ross Harper has on me, so I blame him for the pretentious diversion. We are not, however, on lit-arty food territory here, and nor is there any whiff of pretension when it comes to the bottom line: the new Chequers chef puts perfectly-balanced flavours and quality seasonal ingredients at the forefront of proceedings at all times, and turns every dish into a beautifully-presented delight at every turn; Ross is rockin’ on Rivers Street.
- Wheelchair access ,
- Free wifi available ,
- Dog friendly ,
- Gluten free options ,
- Baby changing facilities