Describe Taste of Bath in one sentence:
"Smaller, wetter, friendlier, more interesting version of Taste of London."
Controversial? Possibly... True? Probably.
Taste of London is great fun. It's a fair reflection of London's impressive range of restaurants. But we felt a bit bored by what was on offer. It all seemed a little bit samey. Nothing massively adventurous. Nothing that blew our socks off. Nothing ground breaking. All very expected.
Taste of Bath was similar and to be honest we were a bit underwhelmed to begin with. Not to mention soaking wet!
Lots of good old fashioned dishes such as roast fillets of lamb from Wheatsheaf...
... and well cooked sea bass from Fish Works. Delicious but hardly adventurous.
Mum would have been pleased to see the flowers on the lamb.
I tried some pork belly from Bells Diner that was going really well until I popped a few of the sultanas on my plastic fork and almost spat it out. The combination of boozy sherry that they havd been soaked in destroyed the dish completely. What a shame.
So far so provincial. But then we came across Chris Horridge who cooks at Bath Priory. He did really well in this year's Great British Menu - his style involves using minimal ammounts of oil, salt and sugar. He uniquely always ensures that his dishes are nutritious as well as tasty. One by one I spent my crowns on his dishes.
His birch sap cured duck was delicate, clean, full of flavour and a breath of pure, fresh air. A bit like when you crawl into the bathroom and brush your teeth after a heavy night on the booze. As the brush and paste do their work the taste of raw garlic, onion, kebab and beer fade away leaving you feeling human and revitalised. The tangerine paste added a beautiful swathe of colour and sweet acidity. And the seeds added a soft gritty texture.
In fact the plate looked just as good once I had hoovered it all down - which surely must be the sign of a good dish!
We went away and were drawn back to his roasted scallop with lemon balm foam, which wasn't as exciting to look at as the duck but was a delight to eat. The scallop was meaty and the foam was light and fragrant. A hugely welcome alternative to the ubiquitous cauliflower or pea puree combination.
We then did another circuit before I convinced Cowie to go for the pud. It was a blackcurrant and redcurrant jelly type thing with space dust and mango paper. Sublime. Light. Zingy. Rammed so full of flavour I wondered whether he had laced it with LSD. The picture doesn't really do it justice but it probably helps to get the idea across.
We left feeling inspired. Delighted to have come face to face with Chris Horridge's food. Eager to find an excuse to book ourselves in for a foodie weekend.