Saturday 12 July 2008

Taste of Bath

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!

Wet under foot

Lots of good old fashioned dishes such as roast fillets of lamb from Wheatsheaf...

Mendip lamb with truffled peas

... and well cooked sea bass from Fish Works. Delicious but hardly adventurous.

Sea bass from Fishworks

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.

Pork belly

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.

Chris Horridge

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.

duck salad

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!

Duck plate

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.

Blackcurrant pudding

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.


aforkfulofspaghetti said...

He did do well on GBM, didn't he? I guess his manner didn't endear him to the voting public, though - he came across as serious and over-worthy, and not a little arrogant. Shame, because his food was visually stunning, and clearly tasted fab, too - as you've just confirmed!

Browners said...

I loitered for ages hoping to have a chat with him but I never got a look in which was a shame. In complete contrast to Oliver Rowe (on another occassion) who noticed that I was hanging around suspicously and broke off a conversation to come and have a chat.

CH's food was fantastic. I really want to experience the full thing at his restaurant. Going to have to save some pennies first though.

Anonymous said...

CH is leaving the Priory to head up the Kitchen at Cliveden in Jan 09...think a few more pennies need to saved to enjoy his food there!!!
Micahel Caines is taking over as "executive head chef" at the Priory so should still be worth a visit depending on who they bring in.

Loving the blog.


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