Tag Archives: pig guide news

Skills for Social Entrepreneurs: An entrepreneur’s perspective with Josh Eggleton at The Grapes, Thursday 15 June

If you’d like an insight into how Michelin-starred superchef Josh Eggletone (co-founder of The Pony & Trap/the Pony Bistro; co- owner of Bristol Beer Factory) manages the tricky balance between profit and purpose, juggling different businesses and the tensions between competing social, environmental and financial aims, get yourself along to The Grapes on Westgate Street at 5pm on Thursday 16 June and prepare to be enlightened.

Working in partnership with the BaNES Social Enterprise Programme, Josh aims to inspire participants as they learn about his own journey to sustainability and understand the skills required to manage competing objectives. How fabulous is that? To make that all-important reservation, click on this link TODAY!

Plate/Minuty Rosé Summer Terrace launches at The Bird, Pulteney Road

Everything’s coming up rosé at The Bird on Pulteney Road this summer when the Plate terrace relaunches for summer in partnership with Minuty Rosé from Sunday 1 May.

The hotel’s seasonal lodge has undergone an imaginative summer update that’s created the perfect environment for soaking up alfresco vibes; think, bright, vibrant décor set against the surrounding Georgian cityscape and you’re (almost!) there.

Why Minuty? See here, now! Meanwhile, on the food front… expect an abundance of freshly prepared small plates to satisfy every appetite, each one brimming with the very best local produce, alongside sumptuous summery salads inspired by the no-dig garden at Homewood (The Bird’s sister hotel) and a seaside seafood selection making a suitably appropriate summertime splash.

The Minuty Rosé terrace at Plate will be open 7 days per week. Small plates start from £7 and a glass of rosé from £8. For more information (plus that all-important booking information) clickety-click on this link. Cheers, piggies!

The Bear Inn (Bear Flat) set to reopen following major refurbishment

It’s the news that many of us have been waiting for for a very long time: The Bear Inn is set to reopen its doors on Friday 11 March following its recent acquisition by the Metropolitan Pub Company.

The Bear Inn dates all the way back to 1770 but was rebuilt in its current form in 1942 after the original building was badly damaged (and subsequently demolished) during World War Two. But has our beloved Snowy – the life-sized polar bear which has stood over the entrance to the pub for decades – survived the current refurb intact? Yes he very much has!

Alongside the kitchen being subjected to a full refit and a totally revamped bar and brand new colour scheme reinvigorating the public spaces (plus a scrub-up of that lovely beer garden), the pub’s six individually designed en-suite boutique bedrooms have had a makeover too.

Following the reopening, the kitchen will be launching a stylish new food menu made up of fresh seasonal dishes, and flaunting all manner of classic pub food such as hearty Sunday Roasts and delicious weekend brunches, while a range of community events and activities (including pub quizzes) are in the pipeline.

The team are so excited to welcome guests to the new and improved site; it’ll be a fantastic chance to connect with old regulars as well as meeting new faces,” says General Manager Matt Ashford. “We’re ready to make them feel at home at The Bear Inn.”

For the full lowdown on the refurbishment and those all-important menus, click on this link. And if you fancy exploring in person, The Bear Inn is hosting a welcome bash at the new-look pub from 6pm on 16 March, with live music and plenty to eat and drink making sure the party goes with a swing.

Exciting news from Wild West Group (The Dark Horse, Bath; Crying Wolf, Bristol)

Wild West Group (The Dark Horse, Bath; Crying Wolf, Bristol) have announced the appointment of veteran drinks legend Angus Winchester as Director of Drinks and People, focussing on training and Beverage Programming, and starting off initially as General Manager of the multi award-winning Dark Horse to gain insight into the operation while the group plans exciting expansion.

Before getting on board with Wild West Group, Angus has been globetrotting for over 20 years, acting as Tanqueray Global Ambassador and then VP of Training for Barmetrix. More recently he added Education Director for BCB and Executive Director for the Tokyo based Ginposium to his resume. Previously he set up one of the UK’s first bar consultancies (IPB) as well as managing Trailer Happiness and Salvatore at Fifty.

It’s been well over 15 years since I last worked in the UK, but when Louis reached out to discuss a possible role I jumped at the chance,” he says. “It’s not just the stellar reputation that his bars have that attracted me, but also the burgeoning food and drink scene in the West Country along with the chance to work with Louis. It’s odd being back in the UK and working with a team who frankly have no idea who I am, and I look forward to developing them and re-establishing my reputation.”



I’ve known Angus for over 20 years and I’m absolutely thrilled to have him on board,” says Louis Lewis-Smith, founder of Wild West Group. “His appointment comes at a very exciting time for us as we switch gears from surviving the pandemic, to expansion. We’re looking at new sites across the south of the UK including a broadening of the portfolio to include food-led operations, and a Wild West Group distillery is on the horizon. Angus, alongside his immensely talented brother Alex as Managing Director, will be key in seeing these ambitious plans to fruition. It’s a really exciting time for us, and with Angus now on board, Wild West Group’s future is looking very bright indeed.”


Exciting times? For sure! Watch this space for further developments…

Hot news from Las Iguanas!

Blimey, there’s so much going on at Las Iguanas over the next few weeks, it’s hard to know where to start!

First up, celebrate lurve the Latin American way this Valentine’s Day with a top tapas feast, made for sharing: choose 3/5 tapas dishes dishes for £18.75/£29.75 before 7pm every Tuesday-Saturday and/or all day every Sunday and Monday – or, for the ultimate sharing platter, try the new Taco Sharing Board with your choice of three fillings (£19.95). And if you really want to make the romantic party go with a swing, say Hola to Chicas’ Cocktail Club and enjoy four cocktails (2x 2-for-1) and two tapas each from the set menu for just £24.95 per person. Swooning? Book here, today!

Elsewhere, Las Iguanas’ legendary Bottomless Brunch is now available seven – yes, seven! – days a week: choose a starter and a main course and enjoy it with unlimited Prosecco or draught beer for just £29.95… or, for a mere £5 supplement, go all-out with the Bottomless Cocktail upgrade and get the day off to a really high-flying start.

Talking of cocktails… enjoy one of LA’s recently-introduced, all-vegan, carbon-friendly cocktails (the Clear Batida, the MOOSE Mai Tai and the Raspberry Martini) and rest assured that a tree will be planted for every ten sold, thereby lifting the earth’s spirits as well as your own.

And then (phew!), this half term (Monday 21-Friday 25 February), there’s something for all the family when a fun-fuelled kids’ menu brings a main course, two side dishes and a dessert to the little one’s side of the table for just £6.50 while the grown-ups refresh and reset with a selection of very special Mocktails at 2-for-1 prices all day every day.

Ay caramba? Indeed!

Weekday treat! Enjoy a free glass of Champagne with Afternoon Tea at the Royal Crescent Hotel

Book a weekday Afternoon Tea at the Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa any (or every!) Monday-Thursday from now all the way through until the end of March and enjoy a complementary glass of Champagne on the house. What’s the catch? There isn’t one! All you have to do to fizz yourself up is use the offer code WEEKDAY TREAT when making that all-important booking by phone on 01225 823333 or by email: info@royalcrescent.co.uk

Now that’s what we call a sparkling midweek tease…

For menus, T&C’s, etc, click on this link

Pig Guide review (of a brand new arrival to the scene): Casa de Tapas, York Street

‘Tapas’: derived from the Spanish verb tapar (a cognate of the English word ‘top’), used to describe the little with-drinks nibbles served by proprietors of pre-19th century Spanish Posadas, Albergues or Bodegas – kind of, early Airbnb ventures that offered rooms and refreshments for travellers. On from this…

The oft-told story goes that the original tapa were thin slices of bread usually topped with charcuterie which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses with in between sips: on one level, a practical measure that prevented flies from hovering over the sweet sherry; on another level, a very canny up-sell: cured meats tend to be quite salty, so therefore activate thirst. If you’ve got a bar full of thirsty customers, you’ve got a bar full of speedier drinkers, right? On from this once more…

In Spain, groups of local merrymakers regularly cruise tapas bars, expecting to be presented with a sliver of ham, or a cube of cheese, or a crisp little croqueta to accompany their drinks as they go; so far, so very civilised. When the Brits ‘discovered’ Spain as a popular (and accessible) tourist destination in the 1950s and ended up binging on albondigas, an influx of tapas bars and restaurants came the other way, and duly opened on our at-home doorsteps. But on from this yet again…

Wandering around Bath these days, you’d be forgiven for thinking… what happened to the UK’s homegrown tapas revolution? For sure, we’ve got a couple of big glitzy chains (and the odd little indie venture) attesting to specialise in the genre but in reality mostly serving up commercial rollout, pre-prepped, often pre-frozen portions of flavourless albondigas, floppy calamari and shrivelled gambas before a sad-looking plate of what tastes like boil-in-the-bag paella arrives at the table. Or, we’re subjected to the dreaded Small Plates menu: a snooty, ‘British’ version of tapas that costs upwards of £8-9 per dish and are only really suitable for sharing with others if you have a bag of chips on the way to the restaurant. And oh, don’t get me started on Asian/Cajun/French ‘tapas’, or the weird rebranding of Greek Mezze as a ‘tapas-style spread’… but we’re moving on for the last time here in, this time, a distinctly optimistic mood…

Tim Coffey – the force behind popular, long-standing Bath indie restaurants The Real Italian Pizza Co, The Herd and Joya Italian Steakhouse – has recently turned his talents to tapas. He’s scrubbed up (without taking any of the intrinsic characterful charm away from) the space recently vacated by Cafe Retro on York Street, built a terrific team and devised an accessible but wholly authentic tapas menu that skips from almendras fritas (all sangria is too wet without at least one handful of salted, fried Spanish almonds) to Tarta de Santiago taking in a properly classic selection of Spanish cheese and charcuterie, tortillas, croquetas, carne and pescado along the way.

Most dishes fluctuate around the £6.50-£7.50 price tag (and you can choose any three dishes for just £18 every Monday-Friday lunchtime), there’s a very generous Tabla de Embutidos that brings a heap of Spanish cured meats, cheeses, olives, bread and that all-important aioli to the table for £18, and a strong selection of vegetarian/vegan dishes make sure everybody’s invited to the fiesta.

Casa de Tapas feels like a proper tapas bar, the like of which you’d easily wander in to when rambling around Barcelona’s Ramblas, offering the kind of bright, shiny, linger-long or go speedy vibe that allows you to choose your own pace according to your mood rather than having the pace and mood dictated to you by an over-keen team. The menu moves according to a ‘what do you fancy, right here, right now?’ beat too; had we, for example, been en route to the theatre, or the cinema, or a gig, that Tabla de Embutidos could have appeared as quickly as a couple of accompanying beers… and probably have disappeared just as swiftly. Having a party? There’s literally something for everybody here, plus proper party-on jugs of sangria to keep spirits lifted. Smoochy date night? That was us, taking our time, chilling out, catching up.

And so it came to pass that we caught up on both Casa de Tapas and each other over waves of delectable dishes including what’s seriously the very best Jamón ibérico we’ve tasted outside of Salamanca, and two types of croquetas (a mushroom and a chorizo and Serrano ham incarnation, both at once perfectly crunchy/salaciously bechamel-creamy), and succulent prawns drenched in brazenly bold amounts of garlic and chilli, and soft, sexy, semi-cured chorizo in a flavour depth charge red wine reduction, and slow-cooked, smoky fresh octopus with dinky little potato chunks soaking up all that smoky sauce, and house bread topped with juicy, super-ripe grated tomato and more garlic and lashings of proper olive oil.

We drank too much Cava sangria, and too much house red wine (another note to take note of here: you know that rumour that’s at large at the moment regarding rocketing wine prices? Plunder the invitingly affordable wine list here and prepare to stop those tongues wagging), and because it was a Friday evening and we all know that calories don’t count on a Friday evening, we finished off our feast with a proper Basque-style ‘burnt’ cheesecake smattered with homemade strawberry jam and a Crema Catalana because… well, when in Spain.

Okay, we weren’t in Spain – we were on York Street, in Bath. But there’s something about Casa de Tapas that really does make you feel like you’ve been somewhere else for the evening, far away from the hedge fund owned “tapas” traders, and the formerly-frozen fritas, and the sad Small Plates being churned out just down t’road. Has the UK’s homegrown tapas revolution finally arrived in Bath? What we can say for sure is that, visiting Casa de Tapas for what is destined to be just the first of many excursions, se sintió como si volviéramos a casa.

Pig Guide news: Bath Supper Club Collective launch

The Pig Guide’s super-exciting new collaboration with two of Bath’s most fabulous foodies launched at The Grapes Bath last night (Wednesday 6 October) with a Middle Eastern Harvest Feast hosted by Grapes’ landlady Ellie Leiper and curated by Bath-based cookery writer, teacher, organic allotmenteer and Supper Club hostess Simi Rezai, who many of you already know as the force behind Simi’s Kitchen.

The feast – served in the uniquely beautiful, lovingly restored, intimate Jacobean Dining Room on the first floor of the pub – began with a Somerset Cup cocktail: The Grapes’ very own take on a classic Pimms made with the Somerset Cider Company’s Kingston Black and apples from the company’s orchard.

Once firmly in the eat, drink and be merry zone, guests tucked into magical sharing platters that included tantalising tasters of Sumac Chicken (or aubergine-rich Kashke Bademjan for the vegetarians), Loubia bil Tahini (green beans in tahini sauce), Batata Harra (golden garlicky potatoes) and a huge pile of herb-laden aromatic salad, resulting in a prandial voyage of discovery showcasing the uniquely tantalising flavours of the Middle East, with many of the strictly seasonal ingredients sourced from Simi’s own allotment. At the finishing line, Labna with Seasonal Fruit Compote offered a sweet goodnight kiss before we went our separate ways… but we’re soon to be reunited!

Ellie, Simi and Melissa will be hosting regular events throughout the year celebrating high days and holidays such as a Fireworks Night Supper on Wednesday 3 November and Burns Night on Tuesday 25 January; watch this space for full details and that all-important advance booking information.

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.