August 9 2017

Review: Cosy Club

A friend of mine who recently relocated to Bath from Liverpool made a very interesting observation t’other day. “Whenever you ask somebody in Bath where a restaurant or bar or shop is, they immediately tell you what the place you’re looking for used to be,” he said. And I thought about this for a while. And then I realised, yes, I do that myself. “Where’s the Ooh La La bar?” “Oh, you know, it’s where the Oh Please No bar used to be.” But what with being a tiny city built on history’n’all and stuffed with graded, listed buildings, there’s not really that much scope for major change. Well at least there wasn’t, until SouthGate (which replaced a very ugly 1960/70s-style shopping precinct, which itself was built on an area formerly known as The Ham – I see what my mate means now) opened for business eight years ago, and has since introduced a total of around 20 new restaurants and/or bars to Bath, with several big name new arrivals to the complex attracting a flurry of spotlight attention in recent months alone.

But time, as we’re all too well aware, has a habit of rolling along at a sometimes scary pace; last week’s new kid on the block quickly becomes old news, often balancing precariously on the verge that threatens certain establishments with “the place that used to be” status almost within a matter of months. Some merrymaking ventures, however, cleverly manage to move with the times while wearing their ‘institution’ status as a badge of honour – and in SouthGate terms, the Bath branch of Cosy Club is indeed a Grand Dame of the complex, having opened it’s doors six years ago as part of the first phase of the redevelopment.

Although Cosy Club has recently unveiled a bit of a facelift, the general ‘theme’ hasn’t, fortunately, been muddled about with at all. If you’ve still yet to cosy-up, the way in (an unobtrusive corner doorway opposite the main entrance to Debenhams) gives little away about the stylishly sprawling cafe/bar/dining room that dominates the floor space above the shops that line SouthGate Street’s ground floor: a brazenly eclectic mix-up awaits you, blending Art Deco (plush, jewel-coloured fabrics; ornate fixtures and fittings; theatrical motifs; etc) with reclaimed furniture that spans several decades, vintage family photographs, classic Brideshead-era country house/library paraphernalia and all manner of skittish knick-knackery to great effect, resulting in a kinda joyful, contemporary Gin Palace modus operandi that really shouldn’t work, but definitely really does. Meanwhile, a spacious semi-alfresco balcony offers views across the SouthGate horizon (but smokers, take note: this is a strictly smoke-free zone) – blimey, one can kick back in all manner of ways here! The lovely staff and the big, bold menus offer similarly all-encompassing cheer too; once seated at my table with a gin and tonic to hand (the drinks/cocktail menu is expansive, to say the least), food options cover breakfast/brunch, lunch’n’stuff and everything else you might possibly be in the mood for as the day rolls along.

We rolled along to Cosy Club for dinner, to feast from recently-introduced summer menu dishes that snuggle up alongside the kitchen’s perennial faves such as a selection of very highly regarded burgers and plenty of light bite options including imaginative fresh salads. We shared three tapas dishes to start: heavenly goats’ cheese and spinach croquettes (whether croquettes or croquettas, these salacious little deep fried balls of sumptuousness are my new schmoo, and Cosy Club’s incarnation most certainly didn’t let me down), wickedly scrumptious barbecue-glazed pork belly squares and light, panko-crumbed buttermilk fried chicken with an incredibly moreish chipotle mayo – tick, tick, tick.

For the main(s) event, I eventually chose roasted lamb t-bone chops over crayfish pappardelle – not an easy choice to make, but one which I was richly rewarded for as the lamb (soft, pink, perfect) was marinaded in basil and garlic, with mint adding an extra bonus overture to sautéed potatoes, green beans, spinach and balsamic tomatoes, resulting in a tastefully heady symphony of flavour. Mr Pig, meanwhile, chose the slow-braised beef brisket that pretty much had his name written all over it, not least of all because this velvety, uber-carniverous treat came in a brioche bun, drenched with a harmoniously potent stilton and truffle mayo and supported (like it needed supporting) by crispy fried onions, salady bits and superb chips.

So, did we do dessert? Really, honestly, no we didn’t – portions go large here, and we were fully sated to the max. But time, as we established way back at the start of this review, does indeed roll along. And so, I’ll be heading back to get cosy and pig out on a Cosy Sundae or one of the pud sharing plates for two (care to join me?) sometime very soon.

Want directions to Cosy Club? It’s where Cosy Club has always been – and hopefully will remain to be so for a very long time to come.

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