The best places to eat out in Bath: restaurants, cafés and hidden gems
Bath Priory

Casting a discerning yet entertaining spotlight on food & drink in the South-West of England, popular gastronomic blog The Pig Guide is a veritable feast of restaurant news, reviews and gossip.

Contributor and critic Melissa Blease is something of an expert on the booming Bath dining scene. Here, she offers her top tips for the very best places to eat in the beautiful city.

Bath Priory
[Gourmet Greatness – a perfect-looking plate at the Bath Priory]

The best thing about the Bath restaurant scene…

Bath offers a fascinating, eclectic mix of old and new, traditional and modern when it comes to eating options. The unique, independent restaurants, bars and delis – despite the vagaries of the financial climate – continue to fly the flag for inspirational, passion-fuelled, good times. I’ve been writing about food in Bath for over a dozen years, and I’ve never, ever found myself bored.

My favourite place for a quick, no-nonsense bite to eat…

When the urge for a curry hits, only the Boojon Tandoori will do: it’s fast, friendly, welcoming – and BYO too, which really helps keep the price down. I’m a huge fan of Thai food as well – and you can’t beat long-standing institutions such as Yum Yum Thai, Salathai and Mai Thai for speedy, wallet-friendly sustenance with style.

Best place for a special occasion…

Bathonians are spoiled for choice when it comes to glamorous fine dining experiences. I love what head chef Chris Staines is doing in the Allium Brasserie kitchen at the Abbey Hotel, supplemented by Andrew Fisher’s amazing cocktails in the ArtBar. But for a real ‘red carpet’ gourmet extravaganza, you can’t beat the Bath Priory.

Garrick's Head
[Lunch is served at the Garrick’s Head]

For a romantic night out – or first date…

A table for two at Casanis – a lovely little French bistro on one of Bath’s prettiest traffic-free lanes – brings out the old romantic in everybody; if you’re in the mood for whispering sweet nothings, this is the place to do it. For those who want to add a bit of subtle bling to the occasion, the Hudson Steakhouse, Koh Thai Tapas and Nonna’s are perfect for couples… and if the date doesn’t quite go with a swing, all three restaurants are lively enough to stave off those dreaded “I don’t know what to say next” moments!

Specialist restaurants I would recommend…

Portvcale specialises in properly authentic Portuguese tapas rustled up in the kitchen by the owner’s mum – it’s my home-from-home comfort zone. Meanwhile, the meat-free menus at Acorn (formerly demuths) are imaginative enough to seduce even the most committed carnivore.

An old favourite I keep going back to…

Both Gascoyne Place and the Garrick’s Head are like second homes to me – I might as well keep a toothbrush and a change of clothes behind their bars! Fabulous food, lively atmosphere, lovely staff: I think of both of these places as my favourite locals.

Cloisters
[Sumptuous surroundings at the Cloisters Restaurant]

New restaurants that have impressed me…

I applaud the brave souls who have opened the doors to a brand new venture in these cash-strapped times and, because they’re so good at what they do and so passionate about their aims, make it work. So step forward cheerful Italian hotspot Yammo, the uber-glam Cloisters at Bailbrook House, steak haven Herd and the super-chic Porter – I raise my glass to all of them!

The best hidden gems…

To a Bath newbie, Menu Gordon Jones doesn’t look like anything more than a little cafe on the corner of a prosaic thoroughfare. But in fact, the hob in that tiny open kitchen is home to one of Bath’s most talked-about chefs; eat here, and you won’t forget the experience for a long, long time to come.

My perfect foodie day/night in Bath…

I’d start with breakfast at the Indulgence Cafe – the full English here is my favourite wake-up call. For elevenses I’d snack on pastries from the Bertinet Bakery, but make sure I leave room for a terrific tapas lunch at Same Same but Different. For afternoon tea, it’d be Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms – comforting, quirky retro nostalgia a go-go! For dinner, I’m always spoiled for choice: Gascoyne Place? Nonna’s? Koh Thai Tapas? The Marlborough Tavern? But if Sam Moody (head chef at the Bath Priory) wanted to run his latest tasting menu by me, I’d go to bed at the end of the day a very happy Piggy indeed!

Find all of these restaurants and eateries with our handy map:

For news, views and food-related gossip from the Bath and Bristol eating out scene, visit The Pig Guide on www.thepigguide.com or follow The Pig on Twitter @ThePigGuide

What are your favourite places to eat in Bath?

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