My boyfriend and I decided to drive down to Bath for the weekend. I could say we went under the premise of looking at the beautiful stonework on the buildings, or the ancient Roman Baths themselves but this wouldn't be true. Though the commentry from Bill Bryson on the audio guide as you go through the Baths is brilliant. We went to go to Longleat Safari Park. Who doesn't love the idea of driving a foot away from a rhino in the admittedly un-Saharan temperatures? The more exotic the animal the better. I'm aware that they are in captivity. But its really damn amazing to see a tiger walk in front of your car and out into the blossoming British countryside. Sales pitch over...!
Now to supper. I had heard good things about Bath's culinary scene and felt sure I could avoid the dreaded chain. I also partially hoped that sustinance could be had at a non London price. So I did what any self respecting person with high expectations but no clue would do. I asked Twitter. Frances Cottrell, who knows a good restaurant, it being her profession and all that, suggested the Circus cafe and restaurant.
I rang and got a booking for 9pm, my own fault as I booked late in the day, but I hoped that it being booked only served to suggest that I was on to a winner.
The Circus, so-called because of its proximity to the famous Bath landmark, is an intimate dining space across two floors. At a guess I would say it serves around 50 covers. The decor is light and minimal, the place settings unfussy. Couples are seated upstairs across flickering candles, whilst laughter from bigger groups could be heard from downstairs. There was one possible down side to this - for us as a couple, our table was too small to accommodate everything so our wine was kept on the bar. This wasn't a problem however as it was topped up by our waitress readily. Oh and we had a dessert wine from the Greek Island of Samos which was dangerously moreish.
As we were seated at around 9pm, the flavoured breads that came we very welcome. Sourdough, and a lighter rosemary white bloomer were served with lashings of butter. There is much debate around restaurants serving bread, stemming from the following school of thought, "is this a ploy to make me full and serve meagre portions for extortionate prices". When the main course arrived and I can reassure the bread doubters, plenty of food came. And besides the bread was delicious.
For main we had rabbit with beans, which arrived like a rustic stew and Dover sole pared back and presented simply with steamed vegetables. For dessert we had the trio of chocolate mousse, comprising of white, milk and dark chocolate. To die for. The Circus prides itself on simplicity. The menu changes every month because of Head chef and owner Ali Golden's ethos and passion for local ingredients. She cites her inspirations as Elizabeth David and Jayne Grigson. She delivers perfect, unfussy, plentiful food.
Meal for two plus drinks, cost around £80.
Www.the circus cafe and restaurant.co.uk