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, there's a bumper crop of independent places to eat, drink, shop and sleep across this Somerset city

Looking for restaurants in Bath? Want to know where to eat in the historical spa town? Our travel expert and Somerset 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.

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olive’s top 10 must-visits for foodies in Bath

The Scallop Shell

This simple seafood restaurant is unpretentious and artily rough around the edges – tick your menu requests on a paper menu and hand it to the jolly manager in her local beer and ale-lined cubbyhole. Starters are unfussy plates of the freshest shellfish available on the day, while the mains range from hake in crisp batter to grilled skate, all with proper ‘chippie’ chips and homemade tartare sauce served in a pretty scallop shell. If you’re staying in the west of the city look out, too, for The Oyster Shell, the restaurant’s younger sibling based on Moorland Road.

thescallopshell.co.uk

Scallop Shell serves sustainable catches in various guises, including classic fish and chips
Scallop Shell serves sustainable catches in various guises, including classic fish and chips

Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen

A real highlight for local veggies 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?

acorn restaurant- rhubarb dessert
Acorn serves one of our all-time top desserts – forced rhubarb with almond amaretto cream, fennel sorbet and almond crumb

Colonna and Small’s

Head to this contemporary coffee shop and roaster 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. The Gigesa Grade 1 Washed, an Ethiopian coffee with promise of peachy sweetness, hints of melon and bergamot.

colonnaandsmalls.co.uk


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


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


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
Noya’s Kitchen lunches include spring rolls and small portions of Vietnamese stews and curries

Comins Tea House

This contemporary 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 is a serene spot to while away an hour or two

Swoon Gelato

Bristol’s artisan gelato shop has a second brand in Bath, serving seasonal gelatos and Swoon on a Sticks (think artisan Magnum). 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.

swoononaspoon.co.uk

Swoon Gelato
Swoon Gelato serves seasonal gelatos and Swoon on a Stick

Landrace Bakery

This small but thoughtfully formed bakery-café intends to do for Bath’s bread lovers what Colonna and Small has done for the city’s coffee fans. In other words, precision-source everything from the grains to the (wild) yeast and make every loaf from scratch on site every day with nothing added to the mix except flour (from Gilchesters Organics), water, salt and yeast. Artisan plus you might call it.

As well as a brisk trade in loaves to take away (on our visit there was a choice of sourdough or a vast prune and buttered oat number) and a counter heaving with fresh-from-the-oven Eccles cakes and cinnamon buns, there’s also a small retail area stocked with Cacklebean eggs, Pump Street chocolate and bags of Workshop Coffee (which also supplies the café).

In a pared-back, industrial-style space – white walls, rustic wooden benches and metal kitchen kit are softened only by a large, tactile wall sculpture made from wheat by Lunaria – there’s a purposefully short menu of breakfast and lunch choices for those who want to eat in – from warm and flaky sausage rolls made just beyond the counter to sausage, sage and runny-yolked egg on toast or chicken salads made with peppery salad leaves from Undercliff Urban Farm, just along the canal. This being a Westcombe Dairy baby (it’s run by the same people) there are plenty of options for local cheese lovers too, from classic Westcombe Cheddar toasties to pumpkin and ricotta pasties or bacon, leek, potato and Caerphilly quiche.

@landracebakery

Cinnamon bun and coffee at Landrace Bakery Bath
Landrace Bakery has a counter heaving with bakes including cinnamon buns

Eight

With eight unique bedrooms and eight seasonal dishes on the menu, Eight is a neat premise. Just a few cobbled steps away from big-hitting local attractions such as Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths, the hotel’s two beautiful bow windows give passers-by a glimpse into this recently revamped and restored townhouse on North Parade Passage.

Rooms are decked out in a palette of chic, neutral greys with colour pop accents – burnt orange in our superior double – on velvet furnishings and thoughtful illustrative artwork. There are a variety of tea and coffee pods for the Magimix drinks machines, as well as homemade shortbread in a Kilner jar for dunking (though UHT milk is a disappointing surprise; there are no in-room fridges). 

Room at Eight hotel Bath
Rooms at Eight are decked out in a palette of chic, neutral greys with colour pop accents

Under head chef Fred, modern French/Italian menus reflect the team’s international heritage. Menus change with the seasons and are surprisingly accessible, with seven of the eight dishes being gluten-free, two vegan and two vegetarian. Dishes include butternut squash risotto with bath blue cheese, confit pork belly and de-boned short rib of beef. The ‘short eats’ bar menu – think chipotle and rosemary warm mixed nuts and deep-fried scampi – is similarly inclined too.

Read our full review of Eight, Bath, here…

Dish and glass of wine at Eight Bath
Eight’s modern French/Italian seasonal menus reflect the team’s international heritage

More places to eat and drink in Bath

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

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


Koffman & Mr White’s, The Abbey Hotel

The duo behind Bath’s latest hotel restaurant need little introduction but here’s a foodie refresher. Pierre Koffmann has been on the British restaurant scene for the best part of 40 years. It was at Chelsea-based La Tante Claire that he reached the heady heights of three Michelin stars, a feat his former employee, Marco Pierre White, was to later repeat at his own eponymous restaurant in Hyde Park. Now the much-lauded chefs have rekindled their professional relationship, this time as restaurateurs, in Koffmann & Mr White’s, a pared-back French-English brasserie inside the Abbey Hotel.

Minutes from the city’s train station, the restaurant has a menu of French and English classics, from shepherd’s pie and steak au poivre to sherry trifle and pain perdu. There’s other familiar names to look out for, too – from Bath-based baker Richard Bertinet’s sourdough, to Cotswold adoptee and former Blur bassist Alex James’s cheeseboard. Head to the hotel’s ArtBar for after-dinner drinks.

Read our pro vs punter review of this restaurant here…

Koffmann and Mr White’s in Bath

Hare & Hounds

This stone-built, dog-friendly inn is only a mile from Bath city centre, but nevertheless the Hare & Hounds is surounded by beautiful countryside and extensive gardens. From the terrace there are sweeping 10-mile views across the city towards Solsbury Hill, an Iron Age hill fort immortalised in song by Peter Gabriel. The garden comes into its own in the summer, with its large lawn, picnic benches and children’s play area. It all makes for a lovely spot to enjoy a pint of Somerset-brewed Butcombe ale and simple dishes such as beer-battered fish and chips, or mash and beef braised in red wine.

hareandhoundsbath.com

Double doors look out over the Bath countryside. To the side is a terrace with tables and chairs

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.

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

Tea House Emporium

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.

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.


Bakeries in Bath

The Thoughtful Bread Company

Great for a posh Bath bun, as well as all manner of other baked goods, this sustainably minded bakery and bakery school 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).

thethoughtfulbreadcompany.com

the thoughtful bread company
One of The Thoughtful Bread Company’s signature inventions is a little egg box filled with tiny flavoured breads and dipping oils

Didi Cakes

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.


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. 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.

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…


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 above) 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.

dough pizza
Dough pizza, Bath

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.


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


Eight

There’s an unexpectedly cool bar below the Eight hotel. It makes the most of its medieval structure, with cavernous original fireplaces and stone stairways to nowhere. Decked out in shades of opulent dark blue and emerald, set off with the odd metallic shimmer from gently flickering lanterns and collections of statement mirrors, it feels like the perfect ‘secret’ spot to make a beeline for after dark. Drinks take the form of a thoughtfully curated wine list – France and Italy feature highly and there’s a good selection by the glass – as well as classic cocktails and a variety of bottled beers, ales, ciders and spirits. We pop down for a nightcap – Jura single malt and amaretto on the rocks – but it’s easily the sort of place you could spend a few hours; you can eat down there too, if you prefer.


The Dark Horse

A local and seasonal ethos is the central tenet of cult Bath bar The Dark Horse. It draws a grown-up crowd with its dark basement setting, traditional styling (brawny wooden furniture, button-back sofas and rioja-coloured walls), table service and ultra-local drinks list.

Alongside beers and ciders from the Southwest, and English wines and liqueurs are cocktails made with juices pressed to order and homemade syrups, cordials and bitters (often made not just with seasonal ingredients, but locally foraged ones).

This experimental approach means there are a few misses – we weren’t wild about our Twelfth Night (Tullamore Dew whiskey, Cocchi Torino, Somerset Pomona and coffee) – but the gamble usually pays off. Dear Prudence (Sipsmith gin with strawberry and lavender syrup, fresh lime and orange bitters) was a triumph.

darkhorsebar.co.uk

The Dark Horse, Bath

Beckford Bottle Shop

What started as a modest shop in the Wiltshire village of Tisbury has recently grown into a flagship bar, restaurant and wine shop in Bath. Serving inventive small plates, British charcuterie and cheeses, and an enormous range of wines, Beckford Bottle Shop is also a place where people pop in for an informal lunch, a romantic dinner, an evening wine talk, wine and food courses, or private dining. All the wine shop’s bottles can be opened to enjoy with a meal in the restaurant for a simple corkage charge, which gives customers reasonable prices and a wide variety.

Click here for the best wine bars across the country

Beckford Bottle Shop wine bar counter lined with jars of nuts, nibbles and bottles of wine

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 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 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 (currently closed for relocation)

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 favourite choices in the area for a date-night dinner or lunch, drawing an unusually dashing line between decadent and unfussy. A bar, café and restaurant with a pretty oriel window, an unusual ceramic fireplace and an impressive collection of vintage cocktail glasses, it serves a modern British menu.


Photographs by Rhiannon Batten

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Words by Rhiannon Batten and Mark Taylor