You might not have been aware of the previous incarnation of
The Stable in Bath – it was tucked away in a tiny space on George St – but
you’ll almost certainly have noticed it now, because they’ve taken over the old
premises of Pizza Hut on Kingsmead Square, with a bright, airy restaurant
that’s always packed to the rafters when you walk past. There’s something
pretty darn ironic about the fact that they’ve replaced Pizza Hut, because
they’re in the same game – but if Pizza Hut are playing in league two, The
Stable are definitely in the premier league.
The Stable keeps its offering simple, which I always think
is a great sign – they know what they’re good at, which is pizza and cider, and
they stick to it. Frankly, I can’t think of a combination more likely to
succeed round these parts. The menu has a properly local flavour – many
restaurants have a go at this, but they usually put one regional ingredient on
the menu and give themselves a hearty slap on the back for being so marvellous.
By contrast, The Stable’s menu is different in every restaurant and almost
every dish is themed around the produce of the local area – Great Poultry St
The space The Stable has taken over is almost unrecognizable
– airy and spacious, with blond wood benches and lots of candles. The classic
combo of exposed brickwork and exposed pipes is much in evidence, but it works,
so no sneering. Long tables are shared between different parties, or you can
grab a cosy corner if you want to be a little more intimate.
Once we’d placed our pizza order at the bar, cider supremo
Jaz expertly matched each of us up with our perfect cider from their on-tap
selection – turns out for me that’s Ashridge Devon Gold (sweet but not too
sweet) and for my dining companion, Dorset Draught (medium dry, a bit
stronger). Alternatively, if you’re not so sure about what you like, you can
order a tasting board of five different ciders for £7.50 – a seriously good
bargain, not to mention lots of fun.
Service was swift and cheerful, with our pizzas turning up
about ten minutes after we’d sat down again. A chum had told me in no uncertain
terms that I must try the garlic bread, which was fabulous, but I’m afraid my
heart belongs to the Westcountry Porker pizza – a beautifully thin and crispy
base, topped with Bath Pig chorizo and plenty of cheese, and finished off with
rocket and Dijon dressing. My dining companion went for the day’s special –
juicy chicken breast, wild garlic and field mushrooms, with tarragon aioli. The
chicken was perfectly cooked and the flavours were huge – pizza, Jim, but not
as we know it.
When it comes to dessert, once again, The Stable keeps it
simple and sticks to a few good ideas. I couldn’t resist the chocolate brownie
with clotted cream (a cliché, of course, but when it’s done well – as it is
here – you can see why) and my dining companion went for one of The Stable’s
funky dessert pizzas, topped with meringue, lemon curd and raspberry puree.
I’ll admit, I was sceptical, but actually it worked really well – I’d
definitely order it next time.
To finish, I couldn’t resist The Stable’s selection of cider
brandies – after another consultation with the bar staff (whose knowledge
really is exceptional) I went for Somerset Shipwreck, from the Somerset Cider
Brandy Company. Aged in weatherbeaten barrels recovered from a shipwreck, this
incredible brandy tastes of honey, oak and salt, and just the aroma is enough
to get you drunk. I’m already saving up for a bottle of my own…
The best pizza I’ve had in Bath for a long while, combined
with great cider and a brilliant atmosphere – I think it’s probably safe to say
that this was a good trade-off for Pizza Hut. We’ll definitely be going back.
To visit The Stable's website and check out their delicious menu, click here.