Saturday, 31 May 2014

Allium Brasserie, Bath restaurant review

The other weekend we went on a day trip to Bath.

Okay, perhaps day trip is over-egging the custard a bit - we ate some food, had a brief mosey around a few shops, drank a coffee, bought some cheese and then came home.

In summary, it followed pretty much the same formula as all of my so called “day trips”.

The primary of purpose of our visit to Bath was to check out Chris Staines’s restaurant, Allium Brasserie.

Before opening Allium, Staines cooked at Foliage in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, where he held a Michelin star for seven years until it was replaced by Heston’s Dinner.

Foliage was darn awesome and so I guess it’s no surprise that Allium is too.

Staines knows how to knock out vibrant, picturesque plates of food which combine old school technique and interesting ingredients. And, with a lunch and early evening menu offering 3 courses for £23, it’s stupendously priced too.

Located in the Abbey Hotel in the middle of town, Allium’s dining room has the potential to be a charmer. However, despite the high ceilings and huge windows, it still felt gloomy and a bit characterless.

Warm, homemade rye sourdough with a golden crisp crust and a light, complex tasting interior kicked things off on a stellar note. Served with salted butter, I didn’t turn down the offer of a second basket. 

To start, I had chicken terrine with Caesar dressing, lightly pickled mushrooms, tender potatoes in a mustard dressing and a shard of crisp chicken skin. This was a dish of intense flavours which all harmonised perfectly. 

The other starter, a velvety pea soup, combined well with creamy, citric lemon goat’s curd, crisp croutons and pea shoots.

For main was a whopping portion of deep flavoured pork loin - the intense flavour was perhaps down to its 55 days of ageing. The dish was given an Asian twist by way of its delicious accompaniments - carrot and ginger quinoa (one of those health food ingredients of which I’m normally so dismissive) and a nam jim salad, heady with fish sauce, chilli and coriander.

Mouth meltingly tender lamb, broccoli puree, broccoli, caramelised shallots, wafer thin beetroot tartare and beetroot and horseradish cream was a killer combination. But, the portion was seriously stingy. In fact, it wouldn't have looked out of place on a tasting menu. 

For dessert was a triple whammy of strawberry - an excellent strawberry cheesecake with strawberry sorbet, fresh strawberries and the fragrance of mint. 

But, even better was a light and sticky almond cake accompanied by poached pear, milky ice cream and salted caramel sauce. 

After lunch, we visited Colonna & Smalls to see why they’ve gained a reputation as one of the best coffee shops in the UK. A couple of cups of coffee were all it took for me to understand what all the fuss is about. 

Utilising a scientific attention to detail and a variety of brewing techniques, the coffees were complex in flavour without the merest hint of bitterness.

However, all this quality comes at a price… you’ve got to tolerate the melange of moustaches, red chinos and tweed waistcoats.

Before the drive home we also stopped in Paxton & Whitfield Cheesemongers. Despite the allure of the jaw-droppingly large cheese selection, I miraculously left with only a couple of pieces.

The Details:

Address - Allium Brasserie, Abbey Hotel, North Parade, Bath, Somerset, BA1 1LFN
Telephone - 01225 805870

No comments:

Post a Comment