January 29 2014
Review: The Peking Restaurant
Not only is The Peking Bath’s longest-established Chinese restaurant – it’s actually one of the longest-established restaurants in Bath, period. It opened its doors in 1985, when exotic menu options were still only an occasional treat and Chinese food had only just taken over from fish and chips as the nation’s favourite carry-out. These days, of course, times have changed: the Heritage City is home to all manner of menus from across the globe, and more British-themed kitchens than all of them put together. Several good Chinese take aways can be found around Bath’s environs and recent years have brought “modern” Asian experiences to the party too, in the form of several bright’n’breezy canteens, one or two of which even flaunt enticingly authentic menus. But as the years have rolled along, The Peking has, in many ways, remained the same as I imagine it was when it first opened it’s doors: we’re on “traditional” territory here, the like of which was first familiar to many of us decades ago when we first discovered the delights of crispy duck, sweet and sour pork and chicken chow mein. This smart little restaurant has, of course, undergone several makeovers down the years, the most recent of which has given the interior a lovely bright, fresh revamp. But personally, I’m glad to see that The Peking has staunchly remained true to its original USP without feeling the need to give in to contemporary trends involving bench seats, staff who call everybody “guys” and cover-all menus flaunting a confusing mish-mash that we refer to (in polite company at least) as “Pan-Asian fusion”. So there we have it: scene set. Let’s eat.
For the purposes of this review, we chose to opt for the All You Can Eat menu, which costs just £20pp every Monday-Thursday evening. It’s vital to note at this stage, however, that we are most definitely NOT on serve-yourself buffet territory here; we’re talking, freshly prepared, zingingly flavoursome dishes chosen from a proper menu and served at your table in proper fancy restaurant style. We ate barbecued crispy lamb so sweetly fatty (in a good way) and moreish that I could have eating six courses of that one dish alone and still not had enough of it. We had cutesy little springs of asparagus in a light tempura batter. We slurped two soups – one hot and sour, one a seafood medley – that carried off that clever tastebud trick of being both soporifically soothing and excitingly spicy at the same time. We had big fat king prawns with cashew nuts, gorgeously crispy, punchy shredded beef with chilli, and chicken in a smooth satay sauce. We could have gone on and on through a menu that offers all the familiar Cantonese, Szechuan and – yes! – Peking faves for that one set price, but we stopped at what we considered to be a elegant sufficiency because we were elegantly satiated. We were also hugely impressed by the eminently slurpable house wine and the utterly charming, friendly service – this was, overall, a really lovely experience.
Next time we go back, I’m going to take a trip through the a la carte menu: from our experience of the quality of our all-in menu, I expect the seafood dishes in particular could well be spectacular (and, taking a quick flick through the prices of such dishes, amazing value for money too), and we have to get organised enough to order the house speciality of Peking Duck, which requires 24-hours notice as it’s all made to order on the premises. But we don’t rule out strolling in on a whim yet again any day now to cheer ourselves up with another midweek bargain-priced feast – and we recommend that you take our advice and do as we did, soon. The Peking may be celebrating its 30th birthday next year, but it could teach several new kids on the block a thing or two about how good a non-stop exotic cabaret can be.Categorised in: News