Tuesday, 20 May 2014
Dining review // The Stable, Bath.
I could make life very easy for myself and just tell you all to go to The Stable, right now, order the pizza pudding, and thank me later.
But I know that I like more than that from a restaurant review, so let's get down to the knitty gritty...
The Stable has six branches scattered throughout the south west: Bath, Bristol, Bridport, Fistral Beach, Weymouth and Poole. The Bath restaurant is located at the top of town on George Street, next to The Porter. Parking is available at nearby Charlotte Street car park, or if you visit in the evening, you may be lucky enough to snag a spot on a single yellow line right outside, like I did.
Enough about the boring bits, onto the venue itself! Entering at raised street level, you immediately descend a staircase to the restaurant in the vaults below. Having visited several other vaulted places in Bath, I was concerned that it was going to be a cramped, dark and somewhat claustrophobic experience - not so. The stairs open out into a spacious, light dining room, with surprisingly high ceilings.
The neutral walls combined with chunky wood and leather furniture gives The Stable a cosy, rustic, yet classic feel, reminiscent of a luxury farmhouse kitchen. I loved the quirky murals dotted throughout, which lend a fun and contemporary edge.
I must admit that when I arrived, I was a little unsure where I was supposed to go - the many archways of the labyrinthian vaults rather disguise the way to the bar. This could perhaps be remedied with a sign in the same style and colours as the murals; even a simple arrow would help. (FYI, head through the arch next to the fireplace!)
With a variety of seating choices - large open tables, cosy booths, or secluded alcoves for those wanting more privacy - I settled on a comfy booth in the main dining room. I really like the fact the tables are well spaced; they haven't crammed in as many small tables as possible for the sake of it. Combined with the warm colours of the furniture, the fireplace and the soft candlelight, it gives the place a really comfortable atmosphere.
Onto the bit you really want to know about: The Food.
The menu isn't extensive, but has something for everyone, with a mix of pizzas, pies and salads. There are several vegetarian choices, but no vegan options. However, I did tell them ahead of time that I'm dairy free and they assured me that they were more than happy to make up any of the pizzas without cheese or prepare a salad to suit. For this I commend them. The Stable also offers gluten free pizza bases on request, there is a kid's menu for the little ones and an impressive cider selection if that's your bag.
There is also a decent wine list and for the non-drinkers amongst us, a nice selection of soft drinks. In addition to the usual offerings, The Stable carries the delicious Orchard Pig range, which I was happy about. They were out of my favourite Totally Minted (for which the waitress apologised profusely), so I settled on Very Berry, which turned out to be just as scrumptious.
After perusing the menu, my weak will caved to the temptation of cheese and I ended up not dining dairy free after all. Shame on me. First up, I had garlic bread.
I'm not usually overly keen on pizza style garlic bread, but this offering changed my mind. The base was so thin, it was verging on poppadom, but retained some of the 'flop' of a pizza. Light and somehow not greasy, despite being generously smothered in very garlicky garlic butter, I devoured my half and wasn't left feeling stuffed full of bread before the main course. I could easily (and happily) munch a whole one of these! Off to a good start.
The mains arrived amazingly quickly. I opted for the spinach, sweet potato, butternut squash and goat's cheese pie, which is served with salad, chutney, a pickled onion and the biggest roast potato wedges I've ever seen. My boyfriend chose The Fitzwilliam pizza, topped with herb roasted potato, Bath Blue cheese, roasted Spanish onions, English spinach, tomato and mozzarella.
The pies are locally made and I'm pretty sure they are served at other eating establishments throughout the city, but I'm always happy to eat one because they are delicious. Seasoned well and with the perfect combination of herbs with the butternut squash, this pie feels like such an indulgent treat. It was a refreshing change to have it served with something other than the usual bog standard chips or mash. I approve.
The Stable excels when it comes to their pizzas. Obviously I had to sample this as well, so my boyfriend kindly parted with a slice or two. Uh - YUM! When it comes to pizza I'm pretty well versed and didn't think I could be surprised much in the way of taste. The Fitzwilliam had both of us ooh-ing and aah-ing over the flavour party in our mouths. I've never had potato on a pizza and it worked remarkably well. The blue cheese wasn't too 'blue', the mozzarella gave it a creamy balance and the sweetness of the roasted onions tipped it over the edge. I'm kinda sad that I didn't opt for this myself! Oh and Hannes wanted to make sure I did the base justice - a fan of the thin crust, he raved several times about it: "The base is so good. That base though. The base!" In case you haven't gathered, the base was bloody marvellous.
Onto dessert. There are the fairly standard offerings of cheesecake, crumble and brownie. I didn't see anyone eating any of them, so can't comment, but anyway forget those. What you want is a pizza pudding. Oh lawdy.
Described on the menu as 'hazelnut chocolate and mascarpone pizza', I ordered it more because I was intrigued by a pizza for dessert than any other reason. Boy, am I glad I did.
It may not look like much, but this is possibly the best pudding I've ever had at a restaurant. By now we're all familiar with The Stable's amazing pizza bases and this one is topped with lashings of Nutella and generous blobs of mascarpone. I pretty much died and went to heaven, drunk on decadent chocolatey goodness. We didn't want to be piggy so shared one, but screw that: you want one of these bad boys all to yourself. Trust me. Hot damn. We have reminisced over this dessert multiple times since our visit; one of us will suddenly come out with "I want another pizza pudding!" Who knew something so simple would be such a taste sensation?! Bravo. I'd go back for this alone. It's bloody spectacular.
The only slightly negative things I have to say are minor points - one was that the loos could've done with a little tidy up (they weren't dirty, just some tissue on the floor etc) and I found the music selection a little at odds with the atmosphere of the place - at one point there was drum and bass playing. It didn't interfere with our evening or enjoyment though; it just seemed a bit random.
The staff were friendly, helpful, attentive but not intrusive - they manage to strike just the right balance of looking after the customers without butting in every five minutes.
So that pretty much wraps up my dinner at The Stable, Bath. If you're after a casual dining experience in an interesting venue, with delicious food featuring some nice twists on the usual fare, I'd highly recommend The Stable and give it two very enthusiastic thumbs up. You can take a look at the Bath branch, including menus, right here.
Seriously though, just go there, right now, order the pizza pudding, and thank me later.
If you're a restaurant in Bath (or close by) and would like to be reviewed, please get in touch!
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