After having a beer in Beer on our last English mini-break, this time our aim was to have a bath in Bath. First of all MTV boyfriend and I wandered around Bath’s main draw card, the amazing ancient Roman baths, and then inspired we headed to the Thermae Baths so that we could luxuriate in true Roman style. Our taxi driver from the Bath station told us the Thermae Baths were a nightmare to build and ended up costing £45m rather than the £5m budgeted. I am not sure whether this is taxi driver exaggeration but the Thermae Baths are pretty flash. For £19 you can spend a couple of hours trying out the different levels where there are spas, treatment rooms, “flavoured” steam rooms (we liked the spearmint one the best) and a roof top swimming pool which looks out over the town.
The Royal Crescent
There is a restaurant at the Thermae Baths as well but the menu didn’t look too exciting so instead we headed to the The Fine Cheese Company which was recommended in an Olive guide and at Malborough Tavern which was a great tip from American in London.
The Fine Cheese Company
You smell the Fine Cheese Company before you see it, and what a smell it is. This gorgeous cheese shop with its pretty aqua awnings also operates as cheery cafe during the day. The menu includes home made sausage rolls made with buttery puff pastry, macarons and of course brilliant cheese platters . We tried the chorizo sandwich which featured Brindisia chorizo, rocket and pepper on bloomer bread along with salad and crisps (£8.50). The sandwich wasn’t as good as the one Brindisia themselves make in my books as they were a bit stingy on the chorizo. A better choice was the croque monsieur (£4.50), filled with a slab of oozing melted Gruyere cheese and quality ham this was a truly gourmet toastie.
Details: 29 – 31 Walcot street, Bath, Somerset BA 15BN (Ph 01225 448 748)
The Malborough Tavern
The Malborough Tavern is a bright and airy gastro-pub just near Bath’s Royal crescent. It’s a popular place with the citizens of Bath so be sure to book as it was completely full on our visit. There is a focus on local produce with producers listed on the back of the menu and alongside the concise dinner menu there are eight specials on offer demonstrating the seasonal nature of the food. Sardine fillets (£6.95) were pan fried and served on toasted Irish soda bread spread with salsa verde. Unpretentious and delicious.
The roast breast of guinea fowl (£14.95) was a little overseasoned but I enjoyed the accompanying potato rosti and braised Savoy cabbage. Slow roasted shoulder of lamb (£15.50) was melt in the mouth tender and heaped on braised gem lettuce and roasted vegetables which the meat juices had permeated. Dessert of peach tartin was seriously good with a disc of feathery light puff pastry topped with golden caramalised peaches. Service was endearingly slapshod. Our waitress managed to drip wine all over the menu and forget about us a few times but she was so charming and friendly that we didn’t really mind.
Roast guinea fowl
Details: 35 Malborough buildings, Bath, Somerset BA 12LY (Ph 01225 423731)
Gourmet Travel Tips
Our room at Dorian House
We stayed at Dorian House, a boutique bed and breakfast. It is really hard to find acommodation in Bath for one night only, most places try to make you stay two nights on the weekends and Dorian House only relented to take us for one night a few days before our arrival. Dorian House is 15 minutes walk from the station and is run by the principal cellist from the London Symphony Orchestra so the house has a musical theme. We stayed in the Stradivari room (£165) named after the famous violin and the room had the romance and history of an old four poster bed teamed with all the modern comforts of a flat screen TV, wireless and an ipod dock. Breakfast the next morning offered a buffet of cereal and fruit or an option for a full English breakfast or smoked salmon with scrambled eggs. The star of the full English was the fat, juicy Cumberland sausage but the scrambled eggs clearly only comprised one egg rather than the promised three.
Full English at Dorian House
Details: 1 Upper Oldfield House, Bath, Somerset BA2 3JX (Ph 01225 426 336)
Bath is easily accessible from London by a one and a half hour train ride.