Bath is a beautiful city. There - I've said it. It's the one thing that hits you when you arrive and stays with you the entire visit, and lingers long after you drift away. It's gorgeous. Around every corner is more beauty and stunning architecture.
The same can be said about Bath's restaurant scene. There are more amazing restaurants than you can poke a stick at, and behind every corner lurks another little gem.
Bath was one of the places where I didn't bother making a restaurant reservation. After a few weeks of rather hefty eating and rich meals in wonderful places, I thought we might just wing it. Not very Kitty style, but occasionally I can be spontaneous. Sometimes. Not often, but it does occasionally happen.
We arrived in Bath in the late afternoon, just in time for a wander around the streets before sunset (and there was sun people!). We had a mosey down Milsom Street (and I may have bought a pair of shoes but that's for later...) and a stroll through the divine Bath Abbey which is a sight worth the trip to Bath alone. And all of a sudden it was time for dinner. We strolled the streets for a while, reading menus and trying to decide what we might feel like...
Hall and Woodhouse had been recommended by the owner of the Guesthouse we were staying at in Bath. Tucked around the corner from Queens Square in a beautiful old sandstone building, it's a combination bar and pub, with a fabulous restaurant upstairs and a magnificent terrace on the roof. It's been recently done up and while it's clear there has been a lot of money spent on the project, the result is a venue that feels luxurious and modern, while retaining the feel of the original building.
Unfortunately, being a Sunday, the restaurant and terrace were actually closed, but the menu was available in the bar downstairs. After a quick scan it was fairly clear what we would have: Mr Kitty, craving vegetables, opted for the wood roasted chicken salad and I, craving comfort food, chose Ella's perfect roast chicken with mash. How can you pass up something that claims to be the perfect roast chicken?
Our food arrived in quick time - good news to us hungry fol and we settled down to eat. At this point we realised why Carla had recommended H&W to us - not only is the atmosphere great and the place full of locals, the food is sensational.
Mr Kitty's chicken salad was the best example we have had since leaving Australia. A gem lettuce salad generously filled with meltingly soft chunks of chicken, crispy smoked bacon, sun blushed tomatoes, shaved Dorset Drum cheddar and herbed croutons, drizzled beautifully with house dressing, it was the perfect antidote to the heavy meals we had been having around Scotland. Light and refreshing but with a good amount of heft courtesy of the chicken and bacon, Mr Kitty was well satisfied by this offering. His side of fries was crispy and crunchy - a fabulous example of the genre.
My perfect roast chicken was indeed perfect. Gently perfumed with lemon thyme and a smidge of garlic, my chicken was tender and moist and full of flavour. The accompanying mash was luscious and buttery without being too rich, the occasional lump redolent of a home-made dish rather than restaurant fare. It was a perfect accompaniment to the chook, as was the sticky gravy and peppery watercress.
Sated but not entirely full, we decided to check the dessert menu. The sticky toffee pudding was calling my name, and the lovelies at H&W generously allowed me to swap the accompanying vanilla ice cream for the more local clotted cream ice cream, something I had been dying to try. It was a triumph - the pudding moist and sweet, the caramel sauce deep with flavour and the ice cream a fabulous foil to the sweetness of the pud. I could have easily eaten a whole carton of it.
Mr Kitty's bread and butter pudding was also a hit. Studded with sultanas and dried apricots and served with a traditional English custard, it was a great way to finish a meal and he was very happy with his choice.
Hall and Woodhouse is a top find. Happily fed and watered we wandered back to our digs for the evening, glad we'd take the advice of a local about dinner. It's usually a very good idea if you ask me.
Hall and Woodhouse
1 Old King Street