February 27 2014

Update review: The Roman Baths Kitchen

I hate to start a review with an apology. But in this instance, an apology is most definitely due.

I visited Pig member restaurant the Roman Baths Kitchen absolutely yonks ago – October to be precise, not long after their autumn menu had gone live, and their spiffing five-to-ten menu had been launched. The five-to-ten is an elegant, simply-structured, seasonal menu that takes the stress out of all notions of blowing the budget at bill-paying time, with starters and puds priced at £5 and main courses at just £10. See: simples! Back in the autumn, the Pig Guide table for two cosied up with seasonally-appropriate, comforting delights such as warm egg and bacon salad; perfect, locally-sourced pork; and a downhome pud that involved lashings of custard – and I vowed to shout about it here, because it was well worth shouting about. But then life got in the way, and deadlines came and went, and I kept meaning to do The Pig thing and urge you to follow my lead…and that was then, this is now.

Now that a brand new season is in the air, beetroot and goats’ cheese salad followed by a lively mushroom, spinach and ricotta pithivier both promise to hit the springtime spot in fine style, while I urge any Piglets with a sweet tooth not to miss the vanilla crème brulee at any time of the year. There’s crab bisque on the main a la carte menu, alongside Shaldon mussels and all manner of new season treats. Cocktails go large here, and the set lunch menu offers 2-courses for £9.95 (3 for £12.95) and includes Serrano Scotch egg, coq au vin, real mac’n’cheese and sticky toffee pud. Lunch? That’d keep this little Piggie going until breakfast the following day, But eating out in Bath isn’t all and only about the food, is it?

Forgive me (oh dear, another apology) for telling us all something that we think we already know all too well, but here we go: Bathonians live their lives against the backdrop of a World Heritage Site. We’re so used to (or should that be, spoilt by?) our surroundings that we often take that heritage for granted, scuttling past the Abbey on our way back from the Guildhall Market; racing past the Assembly Rooms on our way to the pub; using the Royal Crescent as a shortcut on our way to a friend’s house. Somewhere in the back of our minds, we’re aware of the tourists who stop in their tracks (and often – sometimes annoyingly – stop us in ours) as they gaze in awe at the history that surrounds them. And be honest: we think that certain parts of the city are tourist hotspots that don’t really belong to “us” anyway – because we live here; because we know “the real Bath”. But every so often, I believe it’s good to reevaluate the city that we think we know so well – and the Roman Baths Kitchen is a case in point. This lovely, lively bistro is most definitely not just for visitors to the city. The menus move with both the seasons and current foodie trends. It keeps itself looking gorgeous (like many of us, it’s just undergone a bit of a makeover refurb in readiness for the new season). It offers something to keep attention levels up throughout the day (breakfasts here are spiffing, especially when the sun is shining and you can enjoy your full English on the terrace). And when it comes to location, it’s pretty much unbeatable, offering views of the Abbey, the Roman Baths, the Pump Rooms and the beautiful, bustling square that links them all.

Next time I visit the Roman Baths Kitchen, I’m going to take the Twilight Tour and Dinner Package (£38 for a tour of the Roman Baths, an exclusive torchlit, guided experience and dinner) because I love to be reminded why so many people choose to make a splash in Bath. I’m going to alert Piggies to the forthcoming RBK Classic French Night event as Friday 28 March rolls into view. Heck, I’m even going to talk to the RBK head honchos about hosting a Pig Guide Supper Club here, because I think it’s a venue well worth shouting about. And shouting about the RBK is something that I will never apologise for.


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