Bath is such a tiny city – you can walk around the whole thing in an afternoon and still have time to window-shop and stop for a cup of tea. Over the long weekend we had in Bath, ended up walking in circles a lot, revisiting our favourite places again and again. As such I thought it would be easier to divide my posts on Bath into two main sections: eating and shopping – rather than writing posts on what we did each day.
I was really excited about eating out in Bath as it is full of small, independent cafés, some of which are attached to a deli or bakery and therefore promise delicious treats inside. Kie is a tea-and-cake fiend – perhaps even more so than myself! – so it was lovely stopping off at a different place each day for a small sampling of their delights. Over our little trip we took full advantage of the breakfast provided by our B&B, as it was in fact the nicest part of said B&B: the chef knew how to cook a good egg! This meant that we generally only had small lunches.
1. An abundance in a tea room: Bea’s Vintage Tearooms, 6-8 Saville Row, BA1 2QP
On Saturday, after several hours trailing round the shops, we stumbled upon Bea’s Vintage Tea Room which is tucked away uphill near the Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum. As we had both recently visited the museum to see their collection, we gave it a miss this trip; but another time I would actually like to try the food at the Assembly Rooms too.
Bea’s Tea Rooms are like a kitschier version of a place like ‘The Vintage Emporium & Tea Rooms’ off Brick Lane: very much your ‘Homes & Antiques Magazine’ version of vintage, where the waitresses wore white frilled aprons, red lippy and floral headscarves and nothing left undecorated. The place was very chintzy and doilies adorned every surface; tea is served from a pot with floral china cups and saucers, complete with accessories of sugar tongs, a tea strainer and its dish, and an egg timer for the length of the brewing time. Their creamed teas looked grand, served on multi-layered stands (what else?) but cakes were not offered by the waitress pushing a tea trolley up to our table, but kept at a ‘deli counter’ [I quote the waitress] in the corner. (A tea trolley was the one thing the place truly lacked. Otherwise, it was a maximalist crocheted heaven.)
Everything was pretty and kitsch, and the speakers played out the Andrews Sisters and Marlene Dietrich singing ‘Falling in Love Again’. The tea was lovely – we had assam – but though I was generously served a huge hunk of carrot cake, I found it very sugary and strangely cold. I am very fussy when it comes to cake: it should be warm or at room temperature - never chilled!
The next day we had a slow and relaxing morning, and after buying cinema tickets at The Little Theatre Cinema (which was a truly lovely cinema, showing great films and highly recommended. It even had a ‘vintage season’ for old-movie buffs like myself.) we fled the Christmas shopping crowds in search of another café on the backstreets. Everywhere was packed but we managed to leap on a table at Hall & Woodhouse just as another party was vacating. It’s located behind Jolly’s department store, and was very popular for a Sunday lunch. The service here was really, really good, and they must get another shout-out for their food presentation: I very much enjoyed ogling other people’s meals! It’s very large, and the area we sat in was decorated in a rustic, English, countryside-y, outdoorsy manner (on their website it’s referred to as ‘the potting shed’). I found the bar very beautiful, where golden lighting made the rows of bottles sparkle against the mirrors.
We weren’t too hungry so went for a coffee and a small plate each. Kie had a slice of lemon tart, which she proclaimed very good; I chose butternut squash croquettes with chilli and red onion which were sadly quite bland. The coffee was delicious though. I’m no expert as tea is really my forte, but it was smooth, tasty and very drinkable! (Not like certain tax-avoiding chain coffee establishments, I must add!) Points go for pretty food, buzzing atmosphere, yummy drinks and lovely waitresses.
3. A Nepalese delight: Yak Yeti Yak, 12 Pierrepont Street, BA1 1LA
On our final night in Bath we had dinner at Yak Yeti Yak, a Nepalese restaurant tucked away across the basement floors of three of Bath’s many 18th Century townhouses. We had actually come here on our first evening, and it was so good that we decided straightaway to visit it a second time to try out more of the menu! I really am saving the best for last, because I really cannot put into words how delicious the food was. I really can’t.
The idea of Nepalese food is to order several small dishes to share across the party (which we hadn’t realised on our first visit) and so we did. The flavours were just fantastic: herbs like ginger and coriander were strong, as were a tight selection of spices which were incorporated across savouries, sweets and beverages. We ate braised pork, buttery black-lentil dal, sesame flavoured potato, poppudums in a piquant aniseed-y sauce, and crunchy spiced salad leaves. Kie drank a mango lasso but I had a glass of mulled wine, which although obviously European, actually went really deliciously with the meal due to the spices. There is the option to have meat dishes cooked with some chilli too, and in my opinion the genius chef used precisely the right amount: it made the pork spicy and exciting without overpowering the other flavours or burning the mouth.
I was extremely happy to have space for dessert (not that being bloated would have stopped me at that point) and ordered the spiced carrot tartlet with vanilla ice-cream, with a cup of chiyaa tea; Kie had chiyaa-flavoured ice cream. The chiyaa tea, what I assume is simply the Nepalese version of chai tea, was spiced, creamy and warm: not too milky, nor at all bitter from the tea leaves. The carrot tartlet was just heavenly: moist and warm, with a burst of perfectly-blended spices, drenched with syrup but in no way too sugary.
The atmosphere was beautiful as well: it was low-lit and they played soft music; though tables were quite close together, you were aware only of a murmur of conversation, the pleasure of other diners creating a contented haze about the place. The restaurant is decorated with Nepalese textiles and artefacts, and scented slightly with incense; food was served on Nepalese brass plates and bowls. The staff, too, were really nice; helpful, attentive, never intrusive. Top, top points all round: food, service, atmosphere – and price!