The Scallop Shell Bath - Catch of the day bath

Bath foodie guide: where locals eat and drink

From matcha granola to agnoletti with smoked Winchester cheese and craft cocktails, olive’s travel editor (and local girl) Rhiannon Batten unearths a bumper crop of independent places to eat, drink, shop and sleep across this Somerset city

Check out our travel expert’s guide to Bath’s best independent places to eat and drink in 2018. You will find everything from the top places to get your artisan coffee fix and gluten free cakes, to some of the best places to eat and drink the night away.

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Looking for restaurants in Bath? Want to know where to eat in the historical spa town? Our travel expert and Bath local Rhiannon Batten shares her insider tips for the best restaurants in Bath, along with where to find the best coffee, bakeries and gin bars.


Best simple contemporary restaurants in Bath

There are grander places to eat in Bath (Menu Gordon Jones, The Olive Tree and The Bath Priory among them) but for a no-fuss supper, try these great restaurants

Scallop Shell

A simple seafood restaurant serving up its sustainable catch in various guises, including classic fish and chips (for our full review of Scallop Shell click here)

thescallopshell.co.uk

The Scallop Shell - Haddock, chips and tartare sauce
Fish and chips at Scallop Shell, Bath

Pintxo

This Basque-style tapas bar with a pretty garden and a dedicated sherry menu is tucked away in Bath’s theatre district. Order sharing plates of pan con tomate y jamón along with tinned sardines served with bread and aioli before moving onto albóndigas (meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce), gambas al ajillo and fried padrón peppers. A succinct dessert menu offers warm chocolate and almond cake as well as vanilla ice cream, both of which can be ordered individually or together, with a shot of Pedro Ximenez sherry on the side.

Choose your sherry of choice from the dedicated menu and make the most of any sunshine in the leafy sherry garden out back.

pintxobath.co.uk


Noya’s Kitchen

After moving from Vietnam to England at a young age with her family, Noya Pawlyn has become one of the most loved foodies in Bath and has recently transformed her popular Vietnamese supper club into a restaurant. 

As well as serving informal but hearty sharing dinners in the evening, Noya’s Kitchen also opens for lunch, Tuesday to Saturday, offering a thali-style menu, presented as a tray os small dishes that diners eat clockwise, starting with an appetiser such as fresh summer rolls with punchy dipping sauce or a squidgy pork bun, followed by small portions of Noya’s favourite Vietnamese stews and broths, and finally a miniature dessert.

Read our full review of Noya’s Kitchen here.

Vietnamese dishes on a bamboo tray

The Chequers

The place to satisfy carnivorous cravings is The Chequers. Owned by the team behind two other well regarded Bath pubs, the Marlborough Tavern and the Hare & Hounds, this double AA-roseette-winning gastropub offers popular Sunday roasts, 35-day dry-aged rib-eye steaks and superb burgers. It’s also a convivial place to sit and enjoy a pint of Bath Gem ale (50 Rivers Street).

Food at The Hare and Hounds, owned by the same company, comes with some of the best views in the city (that crown looks set to be challenged by the recently opened Packhorse Inn, a community-run pub on the southern slopes of the city with a fabulously set beer garden and a menu overseen by Rob Clayton, of the city’s popular Clayton’s Kitchen restaurant).


Henry’s

For a more decadent dinner, book a table at Henry’s and try dishes such as flat-iron steak with polenta, grilled leeks and pickled shallot or blood orange parfait with poached pear and toasted brioche (there’s also a full vegan menu).


Jars Meze

Try this light and bright contemporary restaurant for simple, home-cooked Greek food, served from the soul.

jarsmeze.com


Olé

A tiny, corner tapas bar with charming, Spanish staff, Olé is tucked in above above Paxton & Whitfield cheesemongers in Bath (a larger restaurant has also opened round the corner).

Settle in with a tabla mixta – jamon de bellota, spicy chorizo rounds, soft salami, pink slices of tender cured pork loin, triangles of manchego and goats’ cheese, the obligatory quince paste and bread sticks. Then turn it up a notch with fiery paprika-dusted slices of pulpo a la gallega (Galician octopus), tempura-battered, deep-fried aubergine sticks drizzled with dark honey from Malaga, and ensalada de tomato (the ripest raf tomatoes with aggressive minced raw garlic, earthy dried oregano, and the best Spanish olive oil).

Don’t forget drinks as the booze is just as well considered: think dry manzanilla sherries, white tempranillo riojas and Spanish craft beers (try El Boqueron, made from seawater). Book a table or turn up late (it’s one of the few places in Bath where you can grab a table after 9pm) and eat and drink until you (nearly) fall off the barstools.

oletapas.co.uk


Best cafés and coffee shops in Bath

You’re not going to go short of a caffeine kick in Bath. This pint-sized city is generously served by artisan coffee shops, the best of them including Society Café’s two local outlets, Colonna & Smalls and tiny Mokoko.

Colonna and Small’s

Head to Colonna & Small’s for a serious espresso. The brews, all double shots, change weekly, there are tasting notes for each one (including how the flavour changes when adding milk), and the in-house baristas are all experts (6 Chapel Row).

Which coffee to order: The Gigesa Grade 1 Washed, an Ethiopian coffee with promise of peachy sweetness, hints of melon and bergamot.

Mokoko

With two branches in Bath (a smaller one opposite the bus and rail stations mainly used by take-out customers, and a larger one beside the Abbey that also serves salad and quiche-style lunches) and a bakery cum coffee shop that also does breakfast bowls and lunches at Bristol’s Wapping Wharf.

There are two elements that set Mokoko apart. One is the coffee, which is all single origin and roasted in-house (as well as the usual flat whites and cappuccinos you can choose between aeropress, chemex and syphon filter coffees). The other is its cakes, which are freshly baked at the Bristol bakery, change regularly and usually include a vegan choice or two. Current picks include the cherry cheesecake cruffin and banana and peanut butter cake.

mokokocoffee.com

We asked local baristas where they go for their coffee fix, find out here…

Society Cafe
Society Café, Bath

Best tea houses in Bath

If tea is more your, er, cup of tea, you’re also well catered for in Bath. The Tea House Emporium is great for stocking up on loose-leaf teas, as well as pots, tins and infusers, while Comins Tea House is a serene spot to while away an hour or two making your way through its extensive menu of single estate teas or to fill up on cleverly paired food (Sri Lankan hoppers, matcha granola or gyoza anyone?). It also runs regular tea-themed suppers and tastings (read our full review of Comins Tea House here).

comins tea house in bath
Comins Tea House, Bath

Best bakeries in Bath

Best afternoon tea in Bath – Bath Priory Hotel

For a sit-down afternoon tea with all the trimmings, our top pick in the city is the decadent Bath Priory Hotel, especially in the summer when you can sit out on the terrace enjoying smoked salmon finger sandwiches, lemon drizzle cakes and raspberry tarts overlooking one of the best gardens in Bath.

Didii Cakes

If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, head along Walcot Street to Didi Cakes and pick up something from its vast range of cupcakes (peanut butter, Black Forest and passionfruit cheesecake among them), a slice of vegan banana bread or a pear and almond tart to take away and eat in nearby Hedgemead Park.

Bertinet Bakery

For more conventional baked goods, Bath’s most famous bakeries are arguably the city’s two Bertinet Bakery sites (a third outlet is also attached to the Bertinet Kitchen cookery school in Bath). They’re known for their traditionally made breads – sourdoughs, ciabattas, baguettes and foccacias – but if you want a sugar hit look out for their superior twist on a Bath bun, essentially a sugar-topped sweet roll.

The Thoughtful Bread Company

Also good for a posh Bath bun, as well as all manner of other baked goods, is The Thoughtful Bread Company, a sustainably minded bakery and bakery school that focuses on seasonal, hand-crafted breads and cakes. It has been known to barter its bread for homegrown or locally foraged ingredients brought in by regulars and is brilliantly imaginative (one of its signature inventions is a little egg box filled with tiny flavoured breads and dipping oils flavoured with wild garlic and the like).

the thoughtful bread company
The Thoughtful Bread Company, Bath

Best vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Bath

Near-neighbour Bristol has long been prime territory for veggie eats but Bath is catching up. If meat isn’t your bag, head to Beyond The Kale for juices, salads, smoothie bowls, beet burgers and Bath Culture House kombucha, The Green Rocket Café for cashew and coconut curries, chickpea and cider stews and salads, Chapel Arts Centre Café for flatbread and salad platters or Chai Walla for veggie Indian street food served from a hole-in-the-wall.

There are also plenty of meat-free options for eating out in the evening, including Sol Kitchen Supperclub. In Larkhall, a 20-minute walk from the city centre, out along London Road (or take a scenic, off-road detour along the canal towpath), there’s a dedicated vegan restaurant, Nourish.

Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen

A real highlight for local veggies, however, is Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen, which serves high-end menus in a sleek, modern space; if the agnoletti with smoked Winchester cheese, king oyster mushroom and layered celeriac and monksbeard is listed, order it. We’ve also had one of our all-time top three desserts here – forced rhubarb with almond amaretto cream, fennel sorbet and almond crumb. The house cocktails are always imaginative, too. Rhubarb vanilla martini, anyone?

And if you want to learn how to cook your own dinner, sign up for a course at Demuths, a specialist vegetarian and vegan cookery school just around the corner.

Richard Buckley of Acorn Kitchen won the title of veggie pioneer in our first olive Chef Awards here…

acorn restaurant- rhubarb dessert
Acorn restaurant, Bath

Best family friendly restaurants in Bath

We’re not fans of children’s food shaped into faces but Dough manages to side-step the silliness while adding just the right amount of cute by shaping subtle bunny ears onto its (otherwise simple margherita) children’s pizzas (read our full review of Dough here).

Other places worth checking out with children include The Scallop Shell (see below) and Yak Yeti Yak, the city’s long-standing Nepalese restaurant, with its cushioned seating area, benign staff and mildy spiced, fun-to-dip momos. The latter has also set up a street food twist on Nepalese food, Phat Yaks, serving hot pots, pakoras, salads, curries and wraps.

Or head out to Hartley Farm, between Bath and Bradford on Avon, and fill up on eggs benedict, pulled lamb flatbreads or a Sunday roast before browsing the shelves of its farm shop – or letting the children loose in the play area.

Ice cream, of course, is another classic route to keeping the kids happy. Swoon Gelato opened in Bristol last year and its seasonal gelatos and Swoon on a Sticks (think artisan Magnum) have gone down so well that it’s just opened a second branch in Bath. Current guest flavours include cremino, a heady whirl of vanilla, chocolate and coffee but regular varieties include that children’s holy trinity of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla.

dough pizza
Dough pizza, Bath
Swoon Gelato
Swoon Gelato, Bath

Best bars in Bath

Bath has no shortage of bars. From quintessential dining pubs like The King William and The Chequers to real ale pubs like The Raven and The Bell, microbrewery The Bath Brew House, The Electric Bear Brewing’s tap room, and The Dark Horse craft cocktail bar, whatever your poison you’ll find it in Bath. Don’t miss Pintxo, a Basque-style tapas bar with a pretty garden and a dedicated sherry menu. Three new(ish) spots deserve special mention, however, as they’re offering something genuinely different.

The Canary Gin Bar

Don’t miss this dedicated gin bar, which offers up to 200 gins to choose from. Try the new Bath Gin (£7) – it’s flavoured with 10 botanicals including burnt orange peel and cardamom, and Thornbury’s 6 O’Clock, mixers included.

thebathgincompany.co.uk


Corkage

A wine bar and bottle shop – now with two locations in the city – that sells some extraordinary wines by the glass and serves imaginative small plates alongside them (its marinated octopus with smoky, lemon-infused hummus is legendary). It also does pre-bookable wine events and guest chef nights.

Read our full review of Corkage here.

corkage

Chapter One

An indie-owned pub that’s stripped back and slightly out of town but has a welcoming fireside, board games, a range of handmade Scotch eggs and an ever-changing choice of craft bees (it also hosts tap takeovers in partnership with breweries like Kettlesmith, from nearby Bradford on Avon).

chapteronebath.co.uk


Le Vignoble

Tucked away in Milsom Place, this chic wine bar is a colourful spot to gen up on your grape knowledge. Make the most of eight state-of-the-art Enomatic wine machines, home to 32 changing wines available by the taster, glass or bottle.

With empty bottle lights dangling above your head, it’s the ideal place to sip through your favourite vinous regions. A Sex, Drugs & Rock ’n’ Roll riesling didn’t disappoint with its famously dry mineral finish, while a salty Azorean white had us challenged and delighted in equal measure.

There’s plenty of local gin, craft beer and cider, too – and the staff are super-knowledgeable. There’s also tasty tapas to help soak up the booze, the highlight of which was the toasted Bertinet sourdough topped with 15-month- aged comté, warm honey, apricots and pistachios.

levignoble.co.uk


Best food shops in Bath

If you’re in search of a crate of local food and drink to take home, the easy way to do it is to get one delivered from Taste of Bath. Or, for non-perishable foodie souvenirs, make your way to Mr B’s Emporium and Topping & Co. for cookbooks, Magalleria for obscure indie food magazines, and Rossiters and Kitchens Cookshop for cookware.

If you’re self-catering in Bath, let someone else do the shopping for you and pre-order a delivery of Bertinet bread, Easy Jose coffee, Ivy House Farm milk and more from Three Bags Full. Or, make a beeline for some of Bath’s best independent food and drink stores – among them The Fine Cheese Co. and Paxton & Whitfield for cheese, and Wolf Wine, The Tasting Room and Independent Spirit for booze.

Bath is also home to various markets, including Bath Farmers Market, which takes place at Green Park Station every Saturday morning and draws some of the region’s best small produce traders. You can pick up a wedge of Westcombe Dairy’s tangy Somerset Cheddar or try a pint of Dick Willows’ proper West Country cider (Green Park Station).

On the third Sunday of the month between March and October there’s also the Independent Bath Market  for high quality baked goods, cheeses, charcuterie, preserves and pickles.

three bags full delivery service
Three Bags Full, Bath
paxton and whitfield
Paxton & Whitfield, Bath

Best place to stay in Bath for foodies

Berdoulat & Breakfast is a smart, two-bedroom b&b, set in a Georgian townhouse, and a definite step up in the style stakes. Not only have its photographer-architect owners, Neri and Patrick, revamped the building (originally designed in 1748 by John Wood the Elder, architect of Bath’s grand Circus crescent among other honey stone beauties), they’ve also remodelled the traditional guesthouse breakfast.

Neri was born in Istanbul so, alongside granola or bacon and eggs, you can opt for a Turkish breakfast of orange juice, coffee, pomegranate salad, flaky cheese pastries, figs, honey-drizzled ewe’s cheese and baked eggs with sage.


Where to eat near Bath

The Bunch of Grapes deserves a heads-up here. Although it’s not in Bath but in Bradford-on-Avon, 20 minutes’ drive away (or a 13-minute hop by train) it’s travel editor Rhiannon’s top pick in the area at the moment for a date-night dinner or lunch, drawing an unusually dashing line between decadent and unfussy.

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A bar, café and restaurant with a pretty oriel window, an unusual ceramic fireplace and an impressive collection of vintage cocktail glasses, its owners lived in southwest France for several years and they’ve brought with them an expert knowledge of handcrafted wines and wood-oven cooked pissaladieres alongside a small plates menu (think roast aubergine tartine with sweet red pepper and goat curd) and French-influenced Sunday lunches. Check the website for steak nights, guest chef dinners and special seasonal menus.

Bunch of Grapes
Bunch of Grapes, Bradford upon Avon. Credit: Mark Bolton