When I received an invite from Wolfsmouth to try out their new kitchen at The Bath Arms, I jumped at the chance. I’d tried their burgers at the World’s End and remember enjoying them immensely. I’d never been to the Bath Arms, let alone noticed it. Nestled between the famous Chockywockydoodah and the Font it didn’t strike me as somewhere I’d go to for food. It feels like a local pub in decor, yet it is apparently far more popular with tourists. And given its location you can see why.
The first thing that struck me about the menu was the number of options. There were 4 starters, 6 mains, 4 side dishes and 4 desserts. I was glad to see this, surely fewer dishes means they’d be done well. There is something for everyone with meat, fish, veggie and vegan options.
When Jack and Will contacted me they said that chef Dan Cropper had created a menu based on whole animal butchery, local shellfish, seasonal vegetables and traditional English recipes. This was clear from the very start, especially using the whole animal. I’m not a massive meat eater and would usually choose fish, but I was drawn to the venison due to the accompaniments. I quite often choose my main based on what they come with. The seasonality of ingredients was also clear, with root vegetables and comforting flavours.
We ordered a bottle of Primitivo from Puglia (Italy). It’s been my wine of choice since visiting Puglia for my honeymoon. I’ve noticed it go from it not being that easy to find and one of the middle priced bottles on a wine list, to one of the most reasonable and featured on almost everyone’s list nowadays. At £19.95 for a bottle, it was an excellent choice.
Smoked ham hock scotch egg with hay mayo and an apple and caper dressing
Various types of scotch egg and croquette seems to be a trend at the moment. I wouldn’t choose your bog standard scotch egg but jazzed up versions always take my fancy. The presentation was fantastic, a very generous portion and the egg yolk had a nice ooze. The meat casing was a nice texture and had a crispy outside. The only thing I would say is that it lacked a bit of seasoning for me. And I’m not sure hay mayo is something to rave about, it was subtle in flavour and I guess that was probably a good thing so as not to overpower the main part of the dish.
Marmite glazed ox tongue crumpet with pickled cockles and turnip
My dining partner was brave enough to order the ox tongue! The idea of the marmite glaze and crumpet was what sold it I think. I never thought I’d try tongue but it was actually very nice, and melted in the mouth. I don’t think I could have eaten the whole thing, just because of the thought of what it is, but my friend really enjoyed it and I’m sure there’s plenty of people who wouldn’t have a problem with eating it.
Venison faggots with parsnip, pickled blackberries and black cabbage
Venison is not something I eat often, nor are faggots but I had a feeling this would be a comforting Autumnal dish. It certainly was that. The faggots were soft and very well seasoned, the puréed parsnip was a lovely texture and the crispy black cabbage (I imagine this was what I’d usually call cavolo nero- never heard it translated before) was perfect. There was just the right amount of jus which was deep in flavour and brought the dish together perfectly.
Smoked poacher and artichoke tart with truffle, hazelnut and leaves
When we read this dish in the menu we were both intrigued. Anything with truffle on it is usually a winner and we were curious to find out what poacher was, it sounded like a fish but it said it was vegetarian. It turns out it’s a type of hard cheese! The tart was very tasty, it had a nice smooth texture inside with excellent pastry. The menu said the salad was with hazelnuts but I’m pretty sure ours came with walnuts. Whatever the nut, the salad was very nice! The ingredients were very autumnal; however, a tart and salad feels a bit more like something you’d have in Spring or Summer. Perhaps the same ingredients could work well in a pie and served with mash and vegetables to turn it into a more comforting dish.
We ordered a few side dishes as well. Dripping chips which were chunky. These were a bit disappointing, they we’re quite crunchy, I prefer a fluffy chip if I’m to have chunky ones. They do also do skinny fries which are vegan. We also ordered seasonal greens with walnut and lemon. What came didn’t match the description, we got carrots, red cabbage and I think celeriac or some other root vegetable. These were all tasty and went well but it wasn’t what we’d asked for. In hindsight we should have mentioned it to the waitress, but I wouldn’t like them to have wasted them for the sake of some green vegetables. I fed this back to the guys on Instagram and they were grateful for the feedback and that they’d pass it on. They mentioned that the head chef was off on that day and so that was why. It’s understandable that somewhere that’s just started up may have some teething problems, but the kitchen should produce the same high quality even when the head chef is off. So, I’m glad that was flagged up to them as it’s something to be mindful of and I’m sure this will improve in time.
I’m not a big dessert fan but we had to try these!
Fig and pistachio tart with clotted cream ice cream
I would describe this as more of a cake texture than a tart, it did have a pastry casing but the inside was more dense than I was expecting. It had a nice flavour of pistachio and fig and the clotted cream went nicely with it.
Plum crumble with ginger ice cream
The crumble was quite rustic, with the pieces of fruit and crumble being quite large. The flavours were really good and the ginger ice cream was something special! A warming wintery dish for sure!
All in all, a very enjoyable, comforting meal in a cosy setting. The portions were all very generous and at a reasonable price. Starters £6.50-8, mains £12.50-16, sides £3-3.50 and desserts £6-7.
The introduction of Wolfsmouth kitchen will undoubtedly bring more locals to the Bath Arms with their name being known by foodies in the city. And I am sure tourists will be impressed by their local seasonal produce. There is a token fish and chips on the menu too, which will please those looking for what many foreign visitors believe to be THE British dish! If you are a meat eater, I’d definitely recommend the ox tongue starter and venison faggots as a main, they were definitely the highlights for us and what made it stand out from anything else I’ve had recently.
Thanks guys for an inspiring British evening!