people hear that I review restaurants, they pretty much always ask me the same
question - which is your favourite? We're so spoilt for choice in Bath that I
can never just give one answer, but lately, The Chequers has most definitely
been on my list of recommendations. Back in January, I was absolutely blown
away by their winter supper club, and so when I was invited to sample the
spring version, my answer was an immediate yes.
Chequers is always lovely and cosy in the winter, and on warmer days has tables
on the pavement and space for drinkers to spill outside (no pun intended) into
the sunshine. We started outdoors with glasses of a lovely English sparkling
wine from Furleigh Estate (top tip – I’ve been told by several experts lately that English sparkling
wine is really good at the moment and well worth trying), before taking our
places at the tables indoors for the feast. With our glasses topped up with Bear
Wit beer from Electric Bear Brewing (a lovely local tipple) we started out with
a few fabulous little nibbles delivered to the table in fine style – tiny wafer
cornets of duck liver pate, arranged along sunbleached sticks of driftwood,
shots of warm duck consommé, little skewers of duck in a nest of fluffy pine
needles, and warm Scotch eggs (right) lounging on a bed of hay. I must admit I’m not
really a massive liver pate person, but I loved the duck and the Scotch eggs
were absolutely outstanding, a sentiment heartily echoed by the rest of the
table. We also tried beef dripping candles, with bread to dip in the dripping
as it melted – this rather split the vote, but it was certainly a showstopping
piece of presentation!
up was something a little lighter – a beautiful tomato dish, the first of
several really impressive veggie dishes for the evening. Crisp heirloom
tomatoes, radishes and goat cheese, along with a beautifully crafted tomato
mousse – that’s it in the middle of the picture, disguised as a tomato – were all
washed down by a Bloody Mary with home-infused chilli vodka. I’ve never been a
Bloody Mary fan but I really liked this, possibly because it just went so well
with the dish. Our third course was another vegetarian dish (left), and a close
contender for my favourite of the evening – a pretty little plate of asparagus,
speltotto made with spelt from nearby Sharpham Park, wild garlic, mushrooms and
foraged jack-by-the-hedge. The flavours were fresh and bright, and the speltotto
was gorgeously creamy, especially with a glass of fruity Leonora's 2014, from Oatley's Vineyard (another English winemaker).
our fourth course, we moved on to seafood, with a plump pan-friend scallop,
pressed chicken wing and crispy chicken skin, and carrot puree and microfennel
from everybody’s favourite family greengrocer, Eades of Bath, all washed down
with a top-up of ---. I loved the flavours here but thought it could have had a
little more oomph – still fabulous though.
Course number five (stay with me now) brought lamb cooked to absolute
perfection, with a rich, dark lamb jus, broad bean puree and broad bean
flowers, and more micoveg from Eades. This dish rivaled course number three for
my absolute favourite – the flavours were huge and rich, with a few really
creative surprises, like the broad bean flowers, which I’d never tried before
but really enjoyed. I also loved the drink pairing for this one – not a red
wine as you might expect, but instead a glass of cider from local producers
Honeys Midford, which worked beautifully.
last two (!) courses were both dessert, and I must say that even though I’d
cleaned my plate on every round so far, I wasn’t feeling unpleasantly stuffed –
it might sound like we ate a lot of food (and we did) but the portions were
very well judged! We started the sweet courses with something light and
delicate, just the thing after the rich lamb dish – hay-infused pannacotta (right) with
rhubarb and granola on top. The hay infusion was incredible – bringing a smoky
cinnamon flavor to the pannacotta – and the crunchy granola and sharp rhubarb served
as a lovely contrast.
Our second dessert course came with a beautiful English
Garden cocktail (left) – gin, apple juice and elderflower – served over ice with
frozen edible flowers. The dish itself brought together an elderflower jelly,
strawberry ice cream, and dandelion parfait – a bouquet of beautiful English
flavours that looked as lovely as they tasted.
satisfied, our final treat was a cross between a tipple and a treat – shots of
Electric Bear milk stout poured over homemade vanilla ice cream in the style of
an Italian affogato (below), which was a nice twist on the usual postprandial coffee. Phew
– feeling jealous? I have some amazing news for you: The Chequers enjoy serving
their tasting menu so much that they’re now offering it on a regular basis from
Monday to Friday. You can enjoy seven exquisite courses for just £49 per
person, and to be honest, I can’t recommend it highly enough - booking is essential, make sure you don't miss out.