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Ever since George Perry-Smith opened his ground-breaking Hole in the Wall restaurant in the 1950s, Bath has been a destination for food lovers in addition to the swarms of tourists who come to see the city’s historic Roman remains and Jane Austen attractions. The local restaurant scene is ever-evolving and, despite the arrival of countless chains, the independents are standing their ground as ambitious and creative young chefs open interesting new places showcasing the region’s finest seasonal produce.
Chef Chris Staines held a Michelin star for seven years when he was at London's Mandarin Oriental, and his recent arrival in Bath has caused much interest among local foodies and tourists alike. Dishes such as poached fillet of haddock with Cornish mussels, chorizo and butternut squash show confident cooking of tip-top ingredients.
Occupying a handsome Georgian building in the street connecting The Royal Crescent and The Circus, this family-run bistro is a firm favourite with in-the-know locals. Chef/owner Alison Golden sticks to a fiercely seasonal menu, allowing well-sourced produce to shine in dishes such as Basque-style rabbit or classic cheese fondue with kirsch.
This Georgian building close to the city centre is one of three gastropubs owned by Charlie and Amanda Digney. A warren of intimate dining rooms is the setting for straightforward, gutsy dishes created from seasonal produce – some grown by the owners themselves. Devilled kidneys on toast might be followed by Cornish fish stew.
Adjacent to allotments that supply some of the produce destined for the menu, this elegant gastropub has been a favoured haunt for locals since it opened in 2006. New head chef Sam Coltman's menu changes daily and might include the likes of roast duck with a confit leg spring roll and pumpkin purée.
After working in several top-flight establishments, Gordon Jones launched his first solo venture in 2011, and there’s a genuine buzz about this intimate 20-cover restaurant with its daily tasting menus. Dishes entitled 'turbot and haggis' or 'sweetcorn, strawberry and wheatgrass' have made this the most talked-about new eatery in town.
It has been open less than a year, but this contemporary Indian is already attracting a great deal of critical attention. Ignore the unremarkable exterior and unlikely location, because the kitchen delivers cutting-edge Indian cooking of a quality rarely seen outside London. The fragrant seafood moilee stew is worth a detour alone.
Occupying the basement of the boutique Queensberry Hotel, The Olive Tree exudes class and sophistication but remains a refreshingly relaxed dining experience. Chef Nick Brodie's modern European food utilises the very best ingredients in dishes such as Brixham plaice served with Cornish lobster, rainbow chard and Loire Valley white wine butter.
A short walk from the city centre and set in splendid gardens, this elegant hotel restaurant is surprisingly unstuffy thanks largely to its relaxed staff. Head chef Sam Moody recently regained the Priory’s Michelin star with well-executed dishes such as slow-roast loin of Salisbury venison accompanied by braised cabbage, juniper and red wine jus.
With seating for no more than 20 people at a time – most of them around a central farmhouse table – this former antiques shop opens all day for excellent coffee and pastries through to hearty lunches and beyond. The open kitchen knocks out everything from roasted pork belly sandwiches to fragrant salads and to-die-for cakes.
A stone's throw from the railway station, this smart gastropub is a firm favourite with Bathonians. The short but appealing seasonal menus from chef Jason Horne and his team might include roast rump of lamb with wild mushrooms, spinach and fondant potato. In summer, eat in the pretty walled garden.