You could easily be forgiven for not being aware of several brand new ventures that have opened in Bath recently; after all, few of us are getting out-and-about much, are we? Full credit where it’s due, then, to the brave new worlders who have set up shop in the midst of what’s possibly the most difficult trading circumstances known to several generations – Boho Marché being the case in point we’re focusing on here.
Taking over the space vacated by Brasserie Blanc at the Francis Hotel on Queen Square, Boho Marché is subtle in terms of signage while the big picture windows are designed more for looking out of from indoors than in from the street – a missed opportunity, perhaps, for a restaurant situated at the crossroads of major city centre footfall point? Beyond that classic hotel facade, however, the vibe subtly – and somewhat surprisingly – rocks along to a subtle Casbah beat, with Marrakech market-stye flourishes evident in both décor and menus in a dining room that was once been a ballroom but today pushes ‘smart modern brasserie’ to the fore, with inviting booths by the bar and smartly-laid tables (some with banquette seating, hoorah!) dotted hither and thither across the rather elegant space.
If you crave falafel and muhammara, or roast smoked harissa chicken, or Moroccan butternut squash curry, you’ll find those dishes on the menu here… alongside lobster and shrimp mac’n’cheese, the Boho beef and marrow burger, duck confit, truffled tagliatelle, and similar dishes on a pan-global theme that underpin the restaurant’s ethos of bringing Mediterranean, Moroccan, North African, Andalusian and French classics (phew!) together in one very busy kitchen. As a result, Turkish poached eggs with labneh and chilli oil leaps out at you from an otherwise classic hotel breakfast menu, and a fried chicken burger with barbecue mayo shares space with a vegan cous cous poke bowl on the main course selection; think Yotam Ottolenghi meets Antony Worral Thompson, and you’ll sorta get the mood. Eclectic? Yes indeed. But then again, what’s not to love about eclectic?
My starter of burrata with peach and chilli chutney was huge, and indulgent, and creamy; a second starter of pan-seared tiger prawns with garlic butter sourdough toast equally substantial. A main course of slow-braised beef with red wine jus and smoked mash was a perfectly executed, textbook rendition of the genre and, at the finishing line, the salted caramel chocolate fondant was divine, the vanilla crème brulee superb. The welcome was warm, service throughout was super-friendly, the cocktails are wonderful, the wine list extensive. But while the overall USP is slightly surreal and perhaps a tad confusing, that’s probably mainly because surreal and confusing are two elements that influence every eating out experience we can manage right now. When tiers stop dominating our table talk and lockdowns become a distant memory, Boho Marché has the potential to march right up the Bath hotel restaurant charts.