Restaurant Review: The Chequers

When it comes to The Chequers, I have a confession to make: although this little restaurant tucked away amongst the houses on Rivers St is, literally, sixty seconds from our front door, it’s taken me five years to get round to going in. It turns out that the loss was entirely mine, because I can honestly say that this is one of the best meals I have ever had in Bath.

The Chequers describes itself as a gastropub, so it’s warm and friendly rather than austere and impressive – old church pews with plump tartan cushions line the walls, the lighting is kept to a cosy glow supplemented with candles, and the specials are written up on a blackboard. The staff are very welcoming and I immediately felt relaxed, sipping on a warm, aromatic glass of Sol Malbec whilst I perused the menu.

For my starter, I chose squid fried in salt and pepper and served with a dressed green salad and a pot of garlic aioli. The combination of flavours was bold and zingy – slices of chilli and spring onion were scattered over the squid, livening up each mouthful with bursts of spiciness, and the fresh, clean flavours of the salad were a perfect foil to the rich seafood and aioli. My dining companion opted for a platter of freshly homemade breads served with hummus and olive oil, so of course I had to sample a little bit of that too – the focaccia was particularly delicious.

As my main course, I selected roast partridge with fondant potatoes, caramelised parsnip, bread sauce and buttered greens. This was a fabulously rich plate of food, perfect for a cold winter’s evening – the partridge was deep and gamey, the potato and parsnip sweet and gooey. Shavings of deep-fried parsnip garnished the plate, providing a lovely crunch, and the whole plateful went down beautifully with the red white which we had chosen. My dining companion chose a ‘Chequers Classic’, the house twist on a veggie burger, which was rather fabulously original – this kind of thing can so often be a little dull or samey, but the Chequers version, which consists of a field mushroom stuffed with feta cheese and kidney beans, was delicious.

Finally, we came to the desserts – we couldn’t possibly resist, but we were full to bursting, so we elected to share one – and what a good job we did, as the final course was, I think, the most delectable of the lot. We chose a passionfruit crème brulee, served with white chocolate sorbet and mango salsa, and the combination was both glorious and perfectly balanced . Served individually, the passionfruit crème brulee might have been too tart, or if it had been white chocolate ice cream instead of sorbet it might have been too rich, but with all the flavours together, the fresh, clean sorbet balanced the passionfruit perfectly, and the mango salsa was beautifully tender and delicate. It was the ideal way to cleanse the palate after such a rich main course.

Although courses such as we chose aren’t especially cheap, there’s nothing on the menu for more than £30 and some of the main courses come in as low as £10, which is extremely reasonable. The atmosphere is snug and welcoming, the staff are cheerful and obliging, and altogether I have no hesitations about recommending this little place as strongly as possible. I’ve also heard many good things about the Sunday roast on offer, so I shall definitely be back there soon.