September 22 2019

Review of (and hot news from) Secret Izakaya at The Grapes

Invigorating Kombu-cured sea bream tartare; complex Shime Saba two ways, elevating fresh mackerel to shimmering heights. Miso shiro and togarashi mussels (fat, juicy molluscs in the kind of broth that you could drink from a mug all night long – see pic, and prepare to salivate); crispy Chicken Karaage – popcorn chicken, if you like, beautifully seasoned, ultra crisp and deeply moreish. And before the creamy, nutty, super-smooth Soba Cha pudding: super-umami ramen, featuring moist, velvety chasu, silky seasoned greens and a soft boiled egg. Sake served in proper choku; lacquered chopsticks for them that could handle them… and, fortunately, forks for them that couldn’t (as in, erm, just me.)

All this and more (various pickled hither and thithers with names that I couldn’t get my tongue around but made my tastebuds tango) was served up at a huge table in an elegant Jacobean dining room on the first floor of one of Bath’s oldest pubs, which is currently trending on the merrymaking charts as Bath’s most welcoming new kid on the merrymaking block (that’ll be The Grapes on Westgate Street, then.) And who was so hard at work in the kitchen? David and Suse, aka the Secret Izakaya.

Spain has tapas, Venice has cicchetti, the UK has small plates… and Japan has the Izakaya: a non-stop, keep ’em coming, mix’n’match array of little and not-so-little dishes served in informal surroundings. And now Bath’s got an Izakaya too. And despite that fact that the words ‘Jacobean dining room’ have just been bandied about, the surroundings are indeed informal – there be no hint of snoot or fust here, ‘cos The Grapes is a scrubbed-up, contemporary watering hole, with a huge dollop of warm welcome thrown in for good measure.

There’s another (not so) Secret Izakaya coming up at The Grapes on Saturday 12 October, followed by the Mexican-themed La Cantina Secreta on Saturday 19 October and a Day of the Dead shebang on Saturday 2 November. But here’s the really hot news…

From the start of November, you can Izakaya at The Grapes on a regular basis every Friday/Saturday evening, proceedings complemented by a full-on Sake bar and an exciting, ever-evolving menu. How cool is that?

For further information on all this and more, keep an eye on @TheGrapesBath and @SecretIzakaya on Twitter, or visit The Grapes website for all you need to know.

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