Tag Archives: pig guide news

Review: Yuzu by Dan Moon

Duck glaze and kimchi; goats curd and dill oil; crab bisque, chicken tea, caviar: that doesn’t read like your regular weekend shopping list, does it? The ingredients do, however, take me back to a time long, long ago, when I used to browse Bath-based superchef Dan Moon’s Tasting Menus at his eponymous restaurant at the Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel online on a regular basis, not because I had an impending booking (although I often did), but just because, to me, Moon menus were the stuff that foodie dreams were made of. Never did I once imagine, back then, that one day I’d be browsing one of those menus… and putting the whole 5-course shebang together myself, at home.

Yuzu by Dan Moon is a new DIY Dining Kit venture launched by Dan during the pandemic. Want to know how, why, when? Read the back story here, and more about Dan while you’re there. Want to know more about the menus? See here; they change on a monthly basis, and include barbecue boxes for the summer months too.

The May menu fun (full rundown: Chicken Tea, spring cabbage kimchi, mustard cress, crispy chicken skin; Sea Trout, goats curd, asparagus, pea, Asian crab bisque; Glazed Duck, spring rolls, plum, sesame, pak choi, mooli, carrot; Buttermilk Panna Cotta, strawberries, vanilla, basil; Coffee and Coconut Chocolate Truffles – phew!) started with an enticing box of goodies delivered directly to our door.

All the ingredients/components were fully prepped, portioned out and ready to roll, from the slab of succulent sea trout, super-neat, tightly-packed spring rolls and chunks of duck for the two main courses to the dinky little pots of mustard cress, sesame, basil leaves and caviar that bring all the necessary cheffy twists to the party at the relevant junctures.

There were neat little bottles of dill oil and plum sauce for various drizzles, blobs and flavour-packed artwork to dress the plate at serving time. The goats curd for the sea trout came in a ready-to-snip piping bag. The fresh vegetables were neatly sliced; the chicken tea, duck glaze and bisque sleek and glossy in their own little tubs; a little sachet of fresh coffee for two sat happily alongside a little tub of truffles which had to be hidden immediately, stashed away for much later*. All the ingredients are locally (and impeccably) sourced; all the packaging is fully recyclable; all the cooking/serving instructions are included.

Having cleared the kitchen counters of all clutter (top tip: sort all the ingredients, bits, bobs, etc into course-specific sections before you start work – you don’t want to get your chicken tea mixed up with your crab bisque while you’re searching for the sesame, do you?) and put the posh crockery into the oven to warm up, we were off. And – considering how this was a menu far, far removed from anything close to anything I’d even dream of putting together at home – service went seamlessly.

Silky Chicken Tea, part-ramen, part-soporific broth, enlivened with kimchi and teased by shards of crispy chicken skin. Clean-tasting Sea Trout with creamy ripples of goats cheese, dotted with dill oil, luxuriated by caviar, and paired with a heavenly, velvety crab bisque. Succulent, gamey duck breast properly pink beneath the rich, glossy glaze, accompanied by crisp spring rolls (which can be deep fried but we did ours in the oven, which worked out perfectly), pak choi, mooli and carrot, with sesame to sprinkle and a divine duck sauce ready to elegantly drench across the whole lot (and yes, it is possible to drench a plate elegantly) just before serving. Panna Cotta for pud? Just unscrew the tubs, top with compote, meringue crumb and fresh basil… and tuck in.

Of all the courses, the Panna Cotta was the simplest to serve… but when that time came, we found ourself missing the thrill of the chase for prandial perfection. We really got into the pace and rhythm of our voyage of discovery, me executing at the pass (of course!), Mr Pig proving his worth as an outstanding Sous Chef. While you need to pay full attention to the instructions (and honestly, none of the stages are complicated, totally belying the end result) and your creative skills are pushed to the fore when it comes to presentation, Dan has done all the hard work for you; not a single frond of mustard, crumble of meringue or slick of oil has been left unturned in his quest to serve you his level of perfection at home, with him there in spirit to guide you.

Yuzu Tasting Menus for two people cost £95 – so yes, it’s costlier than your average takeaway or meal kit delivery. But this is not an average takeaway or meal kit; to look for comparisons or similarities between the two eat-in options would be doing a huge disservice to both. If you were to order a similar selection in a restaurant, you’d pay at least £95 per person without drinks or service for quality of this standard – and, let’s be honest, many folk don’t like the ‘fuss’ of the ‘fine dining’ experience. If you want to bring a bit of theatre to the experience, get theatrical about it; aware that this wasn’t going to be ready-to-serve dinner ready to eat in front of the TV, we dressed up a bit, selected wine to match the courses, put nice music on and set the table properly. We put each course together, together. We both agreed that we were far more thoughtful about the various components of each course because we were more connected to those components than we would have been had we been served the same menu in a restaurant. We had fun eating fantastic food at home.

Moon menus are indeed the stuff that foodie dreams were made of. Stop browsing online and live the dream.

*A note on the coffee and truffles: we had them for breakfast the next morning. Yes Chef!

Mini review: A:ROAM:A

Okay, so going out is, once again, the new staying in again… what’s not to love about that? But home is still where the heart is – and one relatively new Bath-based home delivery business in particular brings a whole lotta love to your doorstep on those evenings when neither going out nor cooking at home are floating your boat.

A:ROAM:A is the brainchild of Jesse Davies and Ross Shaw, two local chefs with impeccable pedigrees, now poised to deliver “a world of flavour” to your door every Friday or Saturday courtesy of a weekly-changing menu inspired by global cuisines but wrought from strictly local produce.

Moroccan, Persian, Sri Lankan, Turkish, Cambodian, Keralan… who knows where the A:ROAM:A inspiration will land us on any given week? If you’re not au fait with social media, you can visit the regularly-updated website for details (and sign up for the newsletter while you’re there), but whichever far flung voyage you choose to embark on, the small print remains the same: each feast costs just £16pp (inc. doorstep delivery to BA1/BA2), all the food arrives in compostable containers ready to reheat, and failsafe instructions are provided. Just place your order by 10pm on the evening before you want your order to arrive, and your passport is stamped.

We jumped on the A:ROAM:A world tour for their most recent Korean excursion, when a sweet-sour, fascinatingly piquant Jjigae (that’ll be kimchi beef stew, then) gave our tastebuds a thorough rejuvenation, accompanied by fiery but mellow (yes, such a juxtaposition is possible, in the right hands of the right chef) Gochujang sesame broccoli; beautifully seasoned namul (greens with ginger and garlic); deeply umami, super-moist kimchi slaw and fragrant jasmine rice. Cooking time? 25 minutes start-to-finish, with little more to do than heat the oven, take a coupla lids off the boxes and allow the microwave to work it’s magic on the rice. Portions were generous to say the least (in fact, we had both vegetables and slaw leftover for a fried egg-topped brunch the next day), every morsel tasted super-fresh… and it was very clear that no stone in the search for upmarket ready meal perfection had been left unturned, nor any short cuts taken.

Roam if you want to; the world is, after all, set to become our oyster once more. But even when we’re getting out and about again, A:ROAM:A can bring a taste of that world to your home, in fine style.

Exclusive Taittinger Champagne Supper Club at Plate, Thursday 8 July

We’ve all got rather a lot to celebrate, right? So do it in fine, fizzy style at Plate (within the elegantly quirky confines of The Bird hotel, on Pulteney Road) on Thursday 8 July.

Celebratory parties of 2-8 people will raise a glass to all kinds of everything good while enjoying an exclusive one-night-only menu created by Plate’s Head Chef Leon Smith, using only the very best local produce from Bath and the very near beyond, served up in a fun, flamboyant setting and paired with a selection of top Champagne Taittinger tipples.

The fun starts with an array of canapés on arrival accompanied by a glass of Taittinger Brut Réserve NV. Once seated, expect delights such as Heritage Tomato, Ricotta, Olive and Basil Salad followed by Cornish Cod with Fennel, Broad Beans and Caviar before a Strawberry, Elderflower, Lemon Verbena and Meringue finale, with Taittinger tipples such as Brut Millésimé 2014, Prélude Grand Crus and Nocturne Sec especially selected to accompany each glorious dish.

The fun starts at 7pm prompt and all-inclusive tickets cost £80pp, but be warned: tickets are strictly limited to 40, so booking today is essential. To guarantee your place at the party, call 01225 580438 or visit www.thebirdbath.co.uk

Cheers, Piggies!

Review: Pies by Plate

After the last lockdown eased up a bit but before this one kicked in (walk with me on this one), I reviewed Plate: a then-brand new restaurant venture within the elegantly quirky confines of The Bird hotel on Pulteney Road. Oh, fond memories indeed! “If I could move in for Christmas, I would,” I said, at the time blithely thinking that I’d properly take up residence there for Christmas, New Year and beyond. And then… ah, we all know what happened next.

But beyond the closed doors of the restaurant, Plate’s kitchen is very much open for business every weekend when superchef Leon Smith dedicates his Fridays and Saturdays to making pies for all to click’n’collect from the hotel’s car park (complete with very inviting fire pit, which makes the whole occasion sorta extra magical.)

Okay, we all think we know all there is to know about pies. But personally, I relish the opportunity to be sent back to the drawing board for a rethink – and Pies by Plate definitely got me rethinking the whole genre. I mean, how often do you encounter moist, smooth chicken, the creamy sauce invigorated by just the right amount of tingly tarragon and tightly packed into a neat, super-short pastry crust, somehow lighter than a ‘traditional’ chicken pie yet still reassuringly, supremely, comfortingly familiar? What about a Sweet Potato and Lentil pie that brings depth-charge flavour, texture and total satisfaction to your, erm, plate and puts a vegetarian-friendly option centre stage for all? As for that old family favourite, the Fish Pie: Leon makes sure that the mashed potato topping – divine though it may be – plays a supporting role to huge chunks of cod, smoked haddock and salmon rather than turning the whole thing into a (tiny bit of fish) version of corned beef hash. That mash comes as standard with the pastry-wrapped pies too, and piles of freshly-steamed Bromham winter vegetables (think, hispi cabbage, and courgettes, and leeks, and yum yum yum) kick a hefty portion of your five-a-day straight into the back of the net without making you feel as though you have to eat your greens in order to eat all the pies. Talking of over-indulging (oh come on, we’re in the middle of a bitter UK winter, in lockdown – over-indulgence is all that gets most of us through the long weekends), there’s pud on the menu too: Winter Berry Cheesecake with Chantilly Cream… please trust me when I tell you that if you can’t manage it after your pie-fest, it makes a wonderful breakfast the next morning. Meanwhile, all ingredients used are sourced within a 10-mile radius of Bath, making Pies by Plate a win-win prandial party for all.

Partying on with Leon’s pies is simple: pre-order by 5pm on Thursday or Friday to collect your order between 5pm-8pm on Friday or Saturday (you’ll find the full menu and ordering contact details here.) All dishes cost £15pp, portions are very generous (to say the least!), everything is beautifully packaged and your feast stays hot all the way home without any of the dreaded takeaway sogginess setting in. Want to buy now, eat them later? There’s a reheat-at-home option available.

Who ate all the pies? You, as soon as you get your hands on them. Enjoy!

Lockdown Larder #3: the essential guide to food and drink shopping in Bath

Food First (for Takeaway/home delivery, Cafes, Treats & Gifts, Drinks and Community Initiatives, scroll down the page):

Thoughtful Bakerydairy, pantry and larder essentials, ready meals and, of course, the most fabulous bread and associated sweet treat delights for miles around available ‘live, (the shop will remain open throughout lockdown) or click’n’collect/home delivery. KLAXON! As well as those legendary pizzas available for click’n’collect every Friday and Saturday evening, look what’s been recently added to the Thoughtful Bakery menu: Thoughtful Brownies in gift box form (gift yourself, or somebody else – they’re available to collect from the bakery and/or order for delivery throughout the UK), classic Afternoon Teas with an add-on Prosecco or G&T option (Saturdays only; collect from the bakery and/or order for delivery to BA1/BA2) and – ta-daa! – Doughnut Selection Boxes (also for collection from the bakery and/or order for delivery to BA1/BA2, Fridays and Saturdays only).

Larkhall Butchers: Top notch, marvellous meat alongside fish, dairy produce and pantry goodies IRL at Larkhall Butchers (paying full respect to social distancing rules, of course) or via doorstep delivery

Lovejoys: delivery services to takeaway kitchens, farm shops, care homes and schools will remain unaffected. Meanwhile, a box delivery service will be available to the general public via the website

Goodies Deli (Larkhall): open for everything delicious deli-related, including Hobbs House bread (and related bakery products), chic charcuterie, charming cheese and much, much, much more, plus fabulous fresh soup of the day, every day. Home delivery service available; also hosts one of the most wittiest, most uplifting Twitter feeds on, erm, Twitter (@GoodiesDeli)

Darling Deli: home cooked fresh and frozen meals-to-go plus bread, fresh meat, coffee, cakes and more, including a fresh curry every week (available to collect from Wednesdays)

Newton Farm: home delivery service for those over 70 or those who are self-isolating as they (or someone they live with) fall in to the vulnerable category, plus those who are self-isolating as a household and NHS frontline workers

Ma Cuisine: French gourmet frozen meals in fresh and frozen format, all available for doorstep delivery or click’n’collect from their Larkhall HQ

The Warmley Bakehouse: the shop will remain open and retail, wholesale and home deliveries services are available

Arthur David: home delivery of all kinds of everything to domestic customers in the BA and BS postcode areas

Avellinos Italian Deli: an abundance of pasta, passata and tinned tomatoes lining the shelves, alongside pestos, jams, oils, Italian eggs, Italian sausages, ’00’ flour by the scoop and much more. Gloves and hand gel are available for every customer (no more than two at a time)

Nibbles Cheese (Guildhall Market): open 9am-4pm Monday-Saturday. Click’n’collect/delivery service (free over £50) and fabulous Cheese Gift Boxes also available

The Fine Cheese Co: fabulous fromage, chic charcuterie, wonderful wines and more. UK-wide mail order delivery services available too, free to orders £50+. See also Cafes.

The Refillable Shop (Cleveland Place East, London Road): stock up sustainably either ‘live’ or online at this big-hearted emporium of indispensable foodie fun on. Take your own container, grab a complimentary recycled brown paper bag or buy a glass jar to fill at your leisure – but whichever way you choose to do it, just do it: this is sustainable shopping at its very, very best

Bath Farmers’ Market (Green Park Station) will remain open every Saturday morning from 9am-1.30pm, just like it did throughout the first lockdown. Shop from myriad local traders all gathered together under one weather-proof roof in a super-safe environment

The Kingsmead Square Stall will remain open for business with the usual fruit and veg supplemented by eggs, pasta, etc. Current opening hours are Monday, Friday and Saturday only (8am-2pm) but proprietor Daniel Weisberg is happy to take click and collect/next day delivery orders via text on 07872 574513. Meanwhile, New Stokes (Moorland Road) are offering a next day delivery service (minimum order £20; £3 delivery charge) – and, as legions of Stokes supporters are aware, there’s a heck of a lot more than fruit and veg available; email bath@newstokes.co.uk or call 07838 943056 for details

Takeaway/home delivery

The Scallop Shell: reverting from eat-in only back to takeaway for the duration of the current lockdown. Hoorah!

The Oyster Shell: the ultimate comfort food available for home delivery/click’n’collect

Yak Yeti Yak: utterly fabulous home delivery service available for click’n’collect every Friday-Saturday between 5pm-8pm; read the menu here, call 01225 442299 from 5pm every evening to order

Thoughtful Bakerylegendary pizzas available for click’n’collect every Friday and Saturday evening

The Peking Restaurant: takeaway and home delivery service 6pm-10pm, 15% reduction on restaurant menu prices on website 

Yum Yum Thai: open for takeaway yum yum yumminess – order by phone or click’n’collect. Free prawn crackers with every order!

Seafoods Fish and Chips (etc!): both branches (Kingsmead Square/Combe Down) open for takeaway

The Longs Arms (South Wraxall): the most amazing burgers (fact!) including The Raymond, The Kenneth and The Gandhi; proper fish and chip suppers every Friday; pie and mash on Saturdays; veggie options available; all £14. Orders must be placed the day before collection – email info@thelongsarms.com or call 01225 864450

The Mint Room: home delivery and/or click’n’collect – call the restaurant direct on 01225 446656

Pies by Plate (The Bird, Bath): Plate Head Chef Leon Smith has created three beautifully-crafted pies (Chicken and Tarragon, Fish Pie and Sweet Potato and Spiced Lentil, all home made from locally-sourced ingredients, all accompanied by mash and veg, etc) available for click’n’collect on Friday and Saturday evenings – oh, and there’s Winter Berry Cheesecake with Chantilly Cream up for grab on both nights, too. All pies cost £15 per person (or choose a pie and that pud for £20); pre-order by 5pm the day before and collect between 5-8pm on Friday or Saturday. To book, call 01225 580438 or email plateathome@platebathwick.co.uk

Olio at Home, Homewood (nr. Freshford): drive-through click’n’collect service every Saturday from 5-8pm. Current menu includes fish/burger and chips, Chicken Malay and Halloumi Massaman curries. Preorder every Friday before 5pm to collect from the front door of Homewood, without leaving your car; call 01225 723731 or email reception@homewoodbath.co.uk

Ping at Home: freshly prepared ready meal extravaganza curated by MasterChef winner Ping Coombes – order by 6pm on Tuesday, collect from Larkhall Butchers on Friday afternoon/Saturday morning. Email athome@pingcoombes.com for full details and/or read our review here

Noya’s Kitchen: Dishes to Go available for collection every Thursday and Friday

Schwartz Bros: Saw Close open 12noon-9pm – click’n’collect via the website or order by phone on 01225 461726/07791 806717. Walcot Street open Sunday-Thursday 5pm-9pm; Friday-Saturday 12noon-9pm – click’n’collect via the website or order by phone on 01225 463613/07791 747264

The Pizza Bike: “The Smallest Pizzeria in the World” is poised for click’n’collect/home delivery from their mini HQ in the the back garden of The Bell (Walcot Street) every Friday/Saturday, 4pm-9pm

The Bath Pizza Co: click’n’collect (visit website for opening hours)

Simi’s Kitchen: unique (and super-tasty) virtual Supper Club for up to 25 people every Friday evening (£25pp) – the sociable part (via Zoom) is optional; the eating isn’t!

Demuths at Home: order by midnight on Thursdays and pick up an exciting, freshly prepared vegan meal on a globally-inspired theme (plus all the relevant sides and trimmings) from Demuths’ Terrace Walk HQ on Saturday afternoon (£20pp)

Bath Fish and Chips: click’n’collect/home delivery services (via Deliveroo) Tuesday-Wednesday 4pm-9pm; Thursday-Saturday 12noon-9pm

Cafes/Delis

Best of British Deli (Broad Street): open 9am-3pm Monday-Friday for takeaway coffee, tea, hot chocolate, bespoke sandwiches, freshly baked cakes and bacon butties

Mús Coffee Shop (Widcombe): open for takeaways, pick-me-ups and general bonhomie from 7.30am-2pm Monday-Saturday

Widcombe Deli: Widcombe, Larkhall and Abbey Green (city centre) branches all open for takeaway coffee and hot drinks, delicious deli-delights and all kinds of tantalising treats to-go every Monday-Saturday 8.30am-2pm

Larkhall Deli: open for takeaway Monday-Saturday 8.30am-2pm

Fox & Kit Cafe: open for takeaway toasted ciabattas, soup, sourdough rolls, children’s menu, cakes, hot and cold drinks etc Friday-Sunday 10am-3pm. Family friendly Lockdown ‘Kids’ Survival’ Boxes for local delivery and/or click’n’collect in the pipeline

The Good Bear Cafe (Bear Flat): takeaway sandwiches, cakes, drinks and more, Monday-Saturday 9am-2pm

Rosarios: takeaway soup, panini, arancini, coffee, cakes and more. Monday-Saturday 9.30am-3pm

Juicy Orange (Weston): open for takeaway hot drinks, milkshakes, smoothes, treats and essential foods Monday-Saturday. Coffee and other hot drinks at special rates for litter pickers every Saturday

The Fine Cheese Co: cafe open alongside the shop for takeaway coffee and related cafe-counter scrumptiousness-to-go

Treats, gifts and pick-me-ups

Thoughtful BakeryThoughtful Brownies in gift box form (gift yourself, or somebody else – they’re available to collect from the bakery and/or order for delivery throughout the UK), classic Afternoon Teas with an add-on Prosecco or G&T option (Saturdays only; collect from the bakery and/or order for delivery to BA1/BA2) and – ta-daa! – Doughnut Selection Boxes (also for collection from the bakery and/or order for delivery to BA1/BA2, Fridays and Saturdays only)

The Fudge Factory: mail order service available via the website

No 3 Cafe: Lockdown Boxes including Posh Ploughmans, Afternoon Tea, Vegan Grazing and Sweet Dripping Dipping selections for just £10, available for collection or free delivery to BA1 Monday-Friday; message @SarararaCoffee to order

Sugarcane Studio: open for superb, unique, supremely pretty sweet treats to takeaway, plus weekly selection box delivery

Sweet Little Things: daily afternoon tea deliveries and celebration hampers within a 15 mile radius of Lower Borough Walls; order online or email mail@sltbath.co.uk

The Wheat Free Kitchen: open for bespoke gluten free cake orders and deliveries throughout Bath

Cheers!

Chapter One Brewpub (also home to an independent onsite microbrewery, Verse Brewing): online shop offering a pre-order click’n’collect service including a Wolf Wines Refill Station from 3pm-7pm every Tuesday-Saturday, available to pick up from their London Road HQ **CURRENTLY SUSPENDED**

Abbey Ales: free delivery to addresses within a 10-mile radius of Bath every Monday-Friday

Novel Wines: free delivery (no minimum order) to BA1/BA2

Great Western Wine: wine (obvs) alongside spirits, veggie/vegan/low or no alcohol selection, plus great gifts (UK-wide delivery), olive oils and vinegars too

Independent Spirit: Independent Spirit is an Aladdin’s Cave of alcohol-based treasure – and their website is the Genie’s Lamp

Wolf Wines: exciting wines you’ll wanna wolf down, including fabulous vegan, organic and natural varietals, beers and ciders too

Community Initiatives

The Bath and NE Somerset Third Sector Group 3SG has bought a host of local partners, charities, residents, students and businesses together to create a Compassionate Community to support everybody during difficult times. On the food front (just one element of the incredible work that 3SG is doing), the team have collaborated with the Sustainable Food Partnership to generate a regularly-updated list of local providers offering food services to people across Bath and north east Somerset

FoodCycle Bath offers a free, nutritious, freshly-cooked meal for collection from Nexus Methodist Church (Nelson Place) every Wednesday between 7.30pm-8.30pm

Age UK B&NES are offering a lunchtime delivery of a hot meal for people living in B&NES direct to the person’s door, seven days per week. A main course and a dessert costs just £6.50; click on this link for the daily menu. Specific dietary requirements can be accommodated, including low sugar, gluten free, and textured meals for those who find it difficult to swallow. To order, email communitymeals@ageukwiltshire.org.uk or call 01793 687017

Bath Foodbank centres are closed until further notice, but e-vouchers are allowing people in need to have food parcels delivered to their homes via a contact-free delivery service. The service is currently in dire need of cereal, baked beans, tinned tomatoes/vegetables/meat/fish/soup/fruit/rice pudding, packet soup, pasta and jars of pasta sauce, UHT milk, long life juice, chocolate and biscuits, instant mash, coffee, hand wash, soap and shower gel

Why Going Out should be the new Staying In

Bath’s hospitality ventures have reopened for (limited) business and, slowly but surely, we’re all wondering… how will it feel to leave our own kitchens behind for the evening and let a restaurant cook for us again?

The simple answer to that question is that it will, or course, feel completely normal. No, not “new normal” – just straightforward normal; after all these months of Covid awareness, complying with the necessary rules and regulations put in place to make us all as safe and secure as possible should be second nature by now. In relation to livelihoods, though, safety and security are two words that have dropped off the menu completely for the hospitality industry.

Times are hard for the independent businesses who have worked so hard to keep afloat during both lockdowns. While many of us have endured hard times of our own over the past 10 months, we need to acknowledge the part that we have to play – the extra-added responsibility, if you like – in supporting Bath’s business community as best as we can; if we don’t, day-to-day life in the immediate world around us is going to change even more drastically than it already has.

It has to be noted, at this point, that this call to arms isn’t intended to blithely overlook the many folk who are struggling with cashflow issues of their own. But as Christmas is severely curtailed this year and the summer holiday fund untouched, might December be a good time to consider using a little bit of rainy day money to brighten up a pretty gloomy forecast? As a bonus incentive to such a plan, Welcome Back deals abound at Bath’s loveliest independent restaurants and gastropubs, including fabulous festive set menus at exceedingly wallet-friendly prices well worth cobbling some ‘mad money’ funds together for. But pounds and pennies aside, perhaps there’s a similarly serious issue affecting your decision around the ‘to book or not to book’ question…

Eating out in the highly controlled environment of a restaurant is, on many levels, “safer” than, say, travelling to work by public transport, or living in close quarters with school-age children, or shopping/working in a big supermarket – just three examples of daily life activities that many of us have continued to do throughout the most recent lockdown. If you think beyond all the scaremongering about clashing tiers and the ridiculous news headlines about whether or not a Scotch Egg constitutes a substantial meal and allow yourself to digest a main course of rationale instead (ie, take a look, online, at your favourite independent restaurant’s Tier 2 Customer Guidelines, which they’re all obliged to publish; here’s a great example from the Bath Pub Company), it becomes clear that a supper away from your own hob is nothing to be scared of. And here’s where our responsibility comes into play again: if you visit a restaurant that doesn’t appear to be following guidelines or managing the behaviour of their customers/staff properly (hugely unlikely, given the consequences for business who don’t stick to the rules), it’s up to you to leave that restaurant and explain your reasons for doing so to the owners of that business.

The independent restaurants, cafes and bars that we all love so much provide jobs for local people, support other local suppliers, producers and businesses and offer vital community cornerstones that makes Bath so unique. They don’t have the cushion of big buck investors to fall back on when times are hard; all they have is us. In readiness for reopening their doors this December, those businesses have, at extremely late notice, already done all the hard work for you in order to offer you a warm, relaxing welcome; all you have to do in return for making a safe return is to do as you’re asked when you get there, and enjoy being back.

This feature was first published in The Bath Magazine newsletter; sign up here!

Pig Guide review: Plate at The Bird

Quirky but chic, subtly glamorous, wittily flamboyant and home to a kitchen dedicated to serving dishes wrought from the finest, freshest, locally-sourced seasonal produce that head chef Leon Smith (who boasts stints at some of the UK’s top eateries including Tom Aikens in Chelsea, the Michelin-starred Pony and Trap and The Royal Oak at Paley Street – where he achieved three AA rosettes – on his impressive CV) can get his hands on: Plate – a recent addition to the stylish merrymaking zone that is The Bird hotel on Pulteney Road – is all about spirit-lifting joy.

Cocktails with nibbles? Tapas with fizz? Proper pie with proper cider? A full-on, all-course blow-out, or a light lunch, or a grand celebratory feast, or a smoochy ‘just because’ supper with your loved one? Tick, tick, tickety-tick; it’s all going on at this seductively welcoming all-things-to all-people experience, where you’re treated like an old best friend from the moment you step through the door.

As you’d expect from a Kaleidoscope Collection venture (see also: Homewood), there’s much to catch your eye even before you’ve made yourself comfortable in the sparklingly pretty bar: intelligently fanciful modern artwork, curious curios, gracious knick-knackery, waggish wallpaper and vibrant but distinctly non-garish colour, colour, colour everywhere you look all serve to fascinate and cheer from the off. It’s totally unique to Bath, but the warm, unpretentious vibe and friendly front of house staff soften any ‘shock of the new’ hard edges with an ease and competence that immediately wrap you up in a warm, relaxed, comfortable shawl of bonhomie… and ain’t that just what we need, right now more than ever before?

Following cocktails in that bar (since having a Cosmopolitan here, I’ve craved nothing else to drink) we took to a cosy corner table in the dining room and picked our way through three dishes from the West Country Tapas section of the neat menu: mackerel rillette with luxurious smoked cod’s roe, piquant pickled cucumber and seductive saffron potato; lightly devilled crispy Brixham whitebait with a super-lively lemon mayonnaise; braised shoulder of Beeswax lamb. Of these three perfect small plates, the soft, succulent, slightly smoky lamb offset by an exceedingly moreish caper jam which was, in turn, mellowed out by the sweet, grassy tang of goats’ curd resulted in an outstanding little dishy indeed… and our raised expectations weren’t set to plummet any time soon.

For mains, for Mr Pig, a generous slab of super-fresh Cornish cod teamed with nicely-crusty roasted cauliflower, salty-sweet sea vegetables and subtly briny clams. For me, Leon’s trademark chicken pie: moist, smooth chicken tightly packed into a neat, super-short pastry crust, somehow lighter than a ‘traditional’ chicken pie yet still reassuringly, supremely, comfortingly familiar, served with sweet hispi cabbage, velvety mash and a proper chicken sauce.

We had puds because Mr Pig convinced me that if I really couldn’t eat he Valhrona Chocolate Mousse with cherries and Chantilly that I’d had my eye on from the get-go but claimed I had no room for, he could… but he didn’t have to. He was, however, beyond contented with his very own, very elegant Hibiscus Panna Cotta (which turned out not to be his very own after all.)

Gosh, Plate is very, very good indeed; if I could move in for Christmas, I would. And, given that the both the Fixed Price and a la carte menus offer exceptional value for money, Sunday Lunch promises great things, Gastro Kids are given their own lovely little selection and The Bird’s unique Dining Domes experience goes live from Wednesday 2 December, I probably sorta will.

That’s the festive season handed to you on a plate at Plate, then.

New Bath restaurant opening: Boho Marché

Brand new restaurant venture Boho Marché – which promises to “bring the exotic warmth and flavours of Morocco and the Mediterranean to the heart of Bath” – is poised to open its doors at the Francis Hotel (Queens Square) on Thursday 3 December.

What will it look like? “Like a never-ending summer, fusing Parisian café culture with lush tropical greenery, Andalusian floral walkways and punctuated with cues from the infinitely stylish era of the 1970s in Marrakech.”

What’s on the menu? “Modern, playful Mediterranean and Moroccan dishes bursting with colour and flavours from shakshuka to Moroccan butternut curry, truffle tagliatelle, sharing steaks and indulgent desserts.”

What does The Pig have to say about all this? “Bring. It. On!”

So…

expect a full review of our impending fact-finding mission to be published at our earliest opportunity.

Lockdown Larder #2: the essential guide to food and drink shopping in Bath

Food First (for Takeaway/home delivery, Cafes, Treats & Gifts, Drinks and Community Initiatives, scroll down the page):

Thoughtful Bakery: dairy, pantry and larder essentials, ready meals and, of course, the most fabulous bread and associated sweet treat delights for miles around available ‘live, (the shop will remain open throughout lockdown) or click’n’collect/home delivery

Larkhall Butchers: Top notch, marvellous meat alongside fish, dairy produce and pantry goodies IRL at Larkhall Butchers (paying full respect to social distancing rules, of course) or via doorstep delivery

Lovejoys: delivery services to takeaway kitchens, farm shops, care homes and schools will remain unaffected. Meanwhile, a box delivery service will be available to the general public via the website

Darling Deli: home cooked fresh and frozen meals-to-go plus bread, fresh meat, coffee, cakes and more, including a fresh curry every week (available to collect from Wednesdays)

Newton Farm: home delivery service for those over 70 or those who are self-isolating as they (or someone they live with) fall in to the vulnerable category, plus those who are self-isolating as a household and NHS frontline workers

Ma Cuisine: French gourmet frozen meals in fresh and frozen format, all available for doorstep delivery or click’n’collect from their Larkhall HQ

The Warmley Bakehouse: the shop will remain open and retail, wholesale and home deliveries services are available

Arthur David: home delivery of all kinds of everything to domestic customers in the BA and BS postcode areas

Avellinos Italian Deli: an abundance of pasta, passata and tinned tomatoes lining the shelves, alongside pestos, jams, oils, Italian eggs, Italian sausages, ’00’ flour by the scoop and much more. Gloves and hand gel are available for every customer (no more than two at a time)

Nibbles Cheese (Guildhall Market): open 9am-4pm Monday-Saturday. Click’n’collect/delivery service (free over £50) and fabulous Cheese Gift Boxes also available

The Fine Cheese Co: fabulous fromage, chic charcuterie, wonderful wines and more. UK-wide mail order delivery services available too, free to orders £50+. See also Cafes.

Bath Farmers’ Market (Green Park Station) will remain open every Saturday morning from 9am-1.30pm, just like it did throughout the first lockdown. Shop from myriad local traders all gathered together under one weather-proof roof in a super-safe environment

The Kingsmead Square Stall will remain open for business with the usual fruit and veg supplemented by eggs, pasta, etc. Current opening hours are Monday, Friday and Saturday only (8am-2pm) but proprietor Daniel Weisberg is happy to take click and collect/next day delivery orders via text on 07872 574513. Meanwhile, New Stokes (Moorland Road) are offering a next day delivery service (minimum order £20; £3 delivery charge) – and, as legions of Stokes supporters are aware, there’s a heck of a lot more than fruit and veg available; email bath@newstokes.co.uk or call 07838 943056 for details

Takeaway/home delivery

The Scallop Shell: reverting from eat-in only back to takeaway for the duration of the second lockdown. Hoorah!

The Oyster Shell: the ultimate comfort food available for home delivery/click’n’collect

Yak Yeti Yak: utterly fabulous home delivery service available for click’n’collect every Friday-Saturday between 5pm-8pm; read the menu here, call 01225 442299 from 5pm every evening to order

The Peking Restaurant: takeaway and home delivery service 6pm-10pm, 15% reduction on restaurant menu prices on website 

Yum Yum Thai: open for takeaway yum yum yumminess – order by phone or click’n’collect. Free prawn crackers with every order!

The Longs Arms (South Wraxall): the most amazing burgers (fact!) including The Raymond, The Kenneth and The Gandhi; proper fish and chip suppers every Friday; pie and mash on Saturdays; veggie options available; all £14. Orders must be placed the day before collection – email info@thelongsarms.com or call 01225 864450

The Mint Room: home delivery and/or click’n’collect – call the restaurant direct on 01225 446656

Ping at Home: freshly prepared ready meal extravaganza curated by MasterChef winner Ping Coombes – order by 6pm on Tuesday, collect from Larkhall Butchers on Friday afternoon/Saturday morning. Email athome@pingcoombes.com for full details and/or read our review here

Whatley Manor (nr. Malmesbury): Superchef (and Great British Menu winner) Niall Keating’s ‘Paradise Carriage‘ open for takeaway on Friday 6/Saturday 7 November from 4pm-8pm, Sunday 8 November from 1pm-8pm then every Wednesday-Sunday throughout lockdown. Visit website or call 01666 822888 to pre-order

Noya’s Kitchen: Dishes to Go available for collection every Thursday and Friday

Schwartz Bros: Saw Close open 12noon-9pm – click’n’collect via the website or order by phone on 01225 461726/07791 806717. Walcot Street open Sunday-Thursday 5pm-9pm; Friday-Saturday 12noon-9pm – click’n’collect via the website or order by phone on 01225 463613/07791 747264

The Pizza Bike: “The Smallest Pizzeria in the World” is poised for click’n’collect/home delivery from their mini HQ in the the back garden of The Bell (Walcot Street) every Friday/Saturday, 4pm-9pm

The Bath Pizza Co: click’n’collect (visit website for opening hours)

The Ring O’Bells (Widcombe): Fish and chips every Friday (home delivery only) – call 01225 7727599 or email enquiries@ringobellsbath.com to order. Guinness, Moreti, Amstel real ale and draft cider served through the open window in 2/4 pint containers

Simi’s Kitchen: unique (and super-tasty) virtual Supper Club for up to 25 people every Friday evening (£25pp) – the sociable part (via Zoom) is optional; the eating isn’t!

Demuths at Home: order by midnight on Thursdays and pick up an exciting, freshly prepared vegan meal on a globally-inspired theme (plus all the relevant sides and trimmings) from Demuths’ Terrace Walk HQ on Saturday afternoon (£20pp)

Bath Fish and Chips: click’n’collect/home delivery services (via Deliveroo) Tuesday-Wednesday 4pm-9pm; Thursday-Saturday 12noon-9pm

Cafes/Delis

Best of British Deli (Broad Street): open 9am-3pm Monday-Friday for takeaway coffee, tea, hot chocolate, bespoke sandwiches, freshly baked cakes and bacon butties

Mús Coffee Shop (Widcombe): open for takeaways, pick-me-ups and general bonhomie from 7.30am-2pm Monday-Saturday

Widcombe Deli: open for takeaway Monday-Saturday 8.30am-2pm

Larkhall Deli: open for takeaway Monday-Saturday 8.30am-2pm

Fox & Kit Cafe: open for takeaway toasted ciabattas, soup, sourdough rolls, children’s menu, cakes, hot and cold drinks etc Friday-Sunday 10am-3pm. Family friendly Lockdown ‘Kids’ Survival’ Boxes for local delivery and/or click’n’collect in the pipeline

The Good Bear Cafe (Bear Flat): takeaway sandwiches, cakes, drinks and more, Monday-Saturday 9am-2pm

Rosarios: takeaway soup, panini, arancini, coffee, cakes and more. Monday-Saturday 9.30am-3pm

Juicy Orange (Weston): open for takeaway hot drinks, milkshakes, smoothes, treats and essential foods Monday-Saturday. Coffee and other hot drinks at special rates for litter pickers every Saturday

Guildhall Deli (Guildhall Market): open for deli-cious business as usual from 10am-3pm Monday-Saturday

The Fine Cheese Co: cafe open alongside the shop for takeaway coffee and related cafe-counter scrumptiousness-to-go

Treats, gifts and pick-me-ups

The Fudge Factory: mail order service available via the website

No 3 Cafe: Lockdown Boxes including Posh Ploughmans, Afternoon Tea, Vegan Grazing and Sweet Dripping Dipping selections for just £10, available for collection or free delivery to BA1 Monday-Friday; message @SarararaCoffee to order

Sugarcane Studio: open for superb, unique, supremely pretty sweet treats to takeaway, plus weekly selection box delivery

Sweet Little Things: daily afternoon tea deliveries and celebration hampers within a 15 mile radius of Lower Borough Walls; order online or email mail@sltbath.co.uk

The Wheat Free Kitchen: open for bespoke gluten free cake orders and deliveries throughout Bath

Cheers!

Abbey Ales: free delivery to addresses within a 10-mile radius of Bath every Monday-Friday

Novel Wines: free delivery (no minimum order) to BA1/BA2

Great Western Wine: wine (obvs) alongside spirits, veggie/vegan/low or no alcohol selection, plus great gifts (UK-wide delivery), olive oils and vinegars too

Independent Spirit: Independent Spirit is an Aladdin’s Cave of alcohol-based treasure – and their website is the Genie’s Lamp

Wolf Wines: exciting wines you’ll wanna wolf down, including fabulous vegan, organic and natural varietals, beers and ciders too

The Ring O’Bells (Widcombe): Guinness, Moreti, Amstel real ale and draft cider served through the open window in 2/4 pint containers. FFI, call 01225 7727599 or email enquiries@ringobellsbath.com

Community Initiatives

The Bath and NE Somerset Third Sector Group 3SG has bought a host of local partners, charities, residents, students and businesses together to create a Compassionate Community to support everybody during difficult times. On the food front (just one element of the incredible work that 3SG is doing), the team have collaborated with the Sustainable Food Partnership to generate a regularly-updated list of local providers offering food services to people across Bath and north east Somerset

FoodCycle Bath offers a free, nutritious, freshly-cooked meal for collection from Nexus Methodist Church (Nelson Place) every Wednesday between 7.30pm-8.30pm

Age UK B&NES are offering a lunchtime delivery of a hot meal for people living in B&NES direct to the person’s door, seven days per week. A main course and a dessert costs just £6.50; click on this link for the daily menu. Specific dietary requirements can be accommodated, including low sugar, gluten free, and textured meals for those who find it difficult to swallow. To order, email communitymeals@ageukwiltshire.org.uk or call 01793 687017

Bath Foodbank centres are closed until further notice, but e-vouchers are allowing people in need to have food parcels delivered to their homes via a contact-free delivery service. The service is currently in dire need of cereal, baked beans, tinned tomatoes/vegetables/meat/fish/soup/fruit/rice pudding, packet soup, pasta and jars of pasta sauce, UHT milk, long life juice, chocolate and biscuits, instant mash, coffee, hand wash, soap and shower gel

Halloween vs Day of The Dead at Las Iguanas

Celebrate the best of two (unearthly!) worlds at Las Iguanas towards the end of October, when Halloween collides with the vibrant, colourful Mexican Day of the Dead celebration that honours, respects and demonstrates enduring love for those who have shuffled off this mortal coil.

Dust off your spookiest fancy dress and go wild with a spooky-themed Boo-ttomless Brunch consisting of a starter and main course with unlimited prosecco or draught beer for just £24.95 Sunday-Friday 12noon-5pm and from 12noon-3pm on Saturday (last bookings 3pm/1pm respectively.) You can, if you so wish, upgrade your brunch to add Bloody Mojitos or Bloody Caipirinhas to your drink options for just £5pp extra – las aclamaciones indeed!

Further upping the party-on ante, all cocktails and mocktails are 2-for-1 every day during the spooky season, while the brand new limited edition Halloween special that is the Mexican Pornstar – a thrilling combination of Olmeca Blanco tequila, passion fruit Malibu lime, vanilla and pineapple – will be on the menu from Wednesday 28 October-Monday 2 November. There’s nothing scary about that, is there?

For full details on all this and more lovely Las Iguanas news, click here.

Ping at Home

When is a ready meal not a ready meal? When it’s a freshly prepared, ready-to-roll ready meal extravaganza curated by none other than MasterChef winner Ping Coombes, available to click’n’collect from Larkhall Butchers.

The Ping At Home selection of Malaysian curries, side dishes and more launches this week and orders (which must be placed by 6pm on Tuesday) will be ready to collect Friday 9 October. Main courses come complete with rice unless stated, and all the food comes chilled and ready to heat, following really simple instructions. The food has a fridge shelf life of 4 days and main dishes are also suitable for freezing, so you can plan ahead and stock up.

If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with our Twitter feed, you can’t fail to have noticed that, last Friday evening, we feasted on smooth, creamy, flavour-laden Nyonya Chicken Curry featuring chunks of velvety chicken and silky little cubes of potato bathed in a tantalising, aromatic coconut sauce, accompanied by fluffy jasmine rice, crispy fritters for texture and crunch and rainbow-hued pickled vegetables that cut through the creaminess of the curry, further upping the umami ante. Portions were generous (to say the least!), the whole heat’n’eat process took no more than 10 minutes and… well, put it this way: we’re ordering all over again next week.

This week’s menu brings Penang Beef and Peanut Curry (inspired by Ping’s family holidays to Malaysia) and/or Chickpea, Roasted Squash and Spinach Curry with pickled red onions and green chutney to the party. The main course curries (in this instance, £10/£9 respectively) come with jasmine rice as standard, while attention-grabbing sides (this week, Bang Bang Cauliflower and Rainbow Rice Spring Rolls with a ginger and peanut dip) are specifically selected to compliment the feast and complete the experience.

Ready to roll? Email athome@pingcoombes.com by 6pm on Tuesday (if you have any allergies etc, remember to add those all-important details at this point) and your feast will be ready for collection from Larkhall Butchers between 2pm on Friday and 1.30pm on Saturday. New menus are unveiled every week; sign up for a regular ping from Ping here.

New restaurant opening at The Bird in October: plate by Leon Smith

The Pig is wishing a very warm welcome to what promises to be a very exciting brand new restaurant opening at The Bird (Pulteney Road) on Wednesday 7 October.

plate by Leon Smith focuses on stylish yet simple produce-led dishes wrought from ultra-seasonal, local ingredients on a weekly-changing menu served up in a relaxed, informal environment. Leon returns to the West Country having established his reputation at some of the UK’s finest establishments including Tom Aikens in Chelsea, Wild Honey, Berwick Lodge, The Pony and Trap (one of the few Michelin starred pubs in the UK) and The Royal Oak at Paley Street, where he achieved three AA rosettes.

The Bird’s proprietor Ian Taylor aims to treat guests to a spectacle for the senses from when they first step into the restaurant, and has designed a colourful, playful interior that aims to complement menus that promise to burst with flavour, presented with flair and executed with skill.

New menu items will be added weekly to reflect true seasonality, ensuring local and return diners will always have a new experience to enjoy as produce highlights varying within each month. While Leon’s menu will change constantly, his pride in his suppliers will be perennial; he and his brigade have hand-sourced the very best ingredients from local farmers and fishermen, meeting with each and visiting regularly as part of their determination to create a showcase of food heroes. Beef and lamb is sourced from the team at family-owned Beeswax Dyson (less than five miles away from Leon’s kitchen) while rainbow platefuls of vegetables are grown with care by fifth-generation farmers at Lovejoys.

plate by Leon Smith will be open from Tuesday-Sunday, a fixed price menu will be available daily from 6pm-7pm offering 2/3 courses for £20/£25, and a children’s menu will complement the adult offering offering ‘gastro kids’ the opportunity to enjoy mini-versions of their parent’s choices. Sound tasty? We think so! Reservations are being taken now; call 01225 580438 or click on this link to guarantee your place at the prandial party.

Stage.Jacky pop-up returns to The Peking, Sunday 27 September

Following on the success of the recent Stage.Jacky Tasting Menu event hosted by The Peking Restaurant (Kingsmead Square) last month (read our full review here), superchef Jacky Chan will be returning to the Peking kitchen to do it all over again on Sunday 27 September.

Tickets for this exclusive event cost just £65pp for a 5-course Tasting Menu and there are two sittings to choose from (6pm and 8pm.) However…. as space is limited to a maximum of 10 covers per sitting, this event is expected to sell out fast – last time around, the evening sitting sold out in just two hours; you have been warned! So, if you don’t want to miss out on what The Pig Guide can personally guaranteed is a uniquely fascinating experience, give Peking owner Jun a call on 01225 466377 today.

Exciting news from The Methuen Arms

There are some exciting changes afoot at the award-winning Methuen Arms in Corsham, Wiltshire. Much as we’re be sorry to see superchef Leigh Evans fly the nest, we’re super-excited about the arrival of new Head Chef Kevin Chandler who joins the MA on Leigh’s recommendation and brings a wealth of culinary experience with him.

Having trained with the acclaimed Galvin brothers at Galvin Bistrot de Luxe and worked at London’s Maze Gordon Ramsay and Petrus (now Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley), Kevin went on to work with Rick Stein in Marlborough before enjoying a stint at The Pear Tree, Whiteley. “I’m incredibly excited about joining the team at The Methuen Arms,” says Kevin. “I’m a chef who is very much led by passion and I just love to cook. Our guests will be at the heart of everything we do – they can expect the same amazing quality that’s synonymous with The Methuen Arms, but with a few new show stoppers along the way. I take inspiration from the incredible local produce we’re lucky to have access to, so whether it’s a comforting Sunday lunch or the very best fish and chips you’ve ever had, each dish will be a celebration of that produce, locally grown or sourced from our very own allotment outside the kitchen window.”

And the exciting Methuen Arms news doesn’t end there! Hannah Liquorish is poised to bring fresh ideas and her own, inimitable hands-on management style to her role as new General Manager. “I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in and getting to know all the locals I’ve heard such a lot about,” says Hannah. “The Methuen Arms has a great reputation for warm, quality hospitality and that’s what I’m all about. These are exciting times for the whole team and I can’t wait to play my part.”

Bringing in a new dedicated Head Chef allows us to really focus on taking our food offering to the next level,” says Jayson Perfect, Group Managing Director Pubs & Inns, Liberation Group. “Kevin has a fantastic background and we’re all really looking forward to him making his mark at The Methuen. Meanwhile Steph – our Assistant Manager – and the rest of the front of house team have all really stepped up recently, and we wanted to bring Hannah on board as General Manager to offer some leadership and expertise to make sure we continue to put our customers first in all of our thinking. This is an exciting time for The Methuen Arms!”

And so say all of us!

The Mint Room extends EOTHO deal throughout September

The Mint Room – described, in our very own words (!), as “competent, confident, audaciously inspirational masters of the art of modern Indian cookery” – have, of their own volition, extended the Eat Out To Help Out scheme every Monday-Thursday throughout September, offering diners 50% off all food (including the fabulous Tour of India Tasting Menu) to a maximum of £10pp.

While we’re on Mint Room territory, forget ye not that the restaurant’s super-smart, uber-glam, semi-alfresco Piper-Heidsieck rooftop Champagne bar offers yet another twist to the singularly unique Mint Room experience, making it the perfect, elegant hotspot in which to make the very most of September’s Met Office-predicted Indian summer.