The Beckford Bottle Shop, Bath
Linger over British charcuterie, cheese and tapas, with good wines from around the world (they stock over 250) at this cool new wine shop with tasting rooms
The latest addition to the coterie of cool pub/restaurants owned by Charlie Luxton and co (The Talbot, The Beckford, Lord Poulett…), this place is a wine shop with tasting rooms where you can sit, sip and buy over 250 wines from around the world, with a tempting menu of small plates to go with.
Saville Row in the elegant Bartlett Street Quarter of Bath near the Assembly Rooms. You’ve got The Circus, the Royal Crescent and St Margaret’s Buildings a short walk in one direction and shopping on George, Walcot and Milsom Streets in the other.
Formerly Bea’s Tea Shop and an antique shop, the light and airy interconnecting rooms have a nostalgic quality, updated with simple decoration. A groovy tin ceiling hovers over scrubbed wooden floors. The walls are cool, muted and decorated with inventive art including framed collections of bottle-openers – and this chap.
Sit at a table or bar-style on stools at the window and watch the world go by.
The wine shop at one end has an established feel and the very knowledgeable Travis in situ to help choose from the 250 wines. Pick a wine, any wine: for a small corkage charge, they’ll open any bottle.
Elsewhere, there’s an extra-large sofa area for group wine tastings, a lounge that opens up in the evenings and a separate room for private dining.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Nibble on tender green olives and smoked almonds while you decide on what food to eat with your wine (or the other way around).
To start: boards of British charcuterie and cheeses from The Counter were the best we’ve ever tasted. Stand outs were creamy, air dried dairy beef (from 15-year-old dairy cows) and subtly spiced loin (both from Tempus Foods); seaweed and cider salami (from Cornish Charcuterie); and an extraordinary veal, thyme and lemon salami (from Trealy Farms).
British cheeses, along with hunks of fresh bread, biscuits and chutney, included Spenwood, a pecorino style cheese from Village Maid in Berkshire, a creamy Burt’s Blue from Ash Lane Farm in Cheshire and an intensely tangy Old Winchester.
Wine: a smooth, red Chateau Julien, Bordeaux and a crisp, dry, white citrussy Gruner Veltliner Federspiel, Johann Donabaum, from Austria.
As the menu is British-style tapas – small plates – you don’t have to limit yourself to just one dish (hurrah). Clockwise from top left: warm and spicy octopus and chickpea stew with harissa and fennel; a soft creamy burrata with radicchio, hazelnut and honey; rabbit, cider and wild garlic rarebit; and crispy Bath chaps (pigs’ cheeks) with apple sauce. All sensational. Wine: Viognier Viura, from Navarra Spain, a bold white with notes of oak and vanilla and Cahors Malbec, ClosTroteligotte, a sophisticated red.
On to deserts. A dark chocolate mousse with hazelnut praline.
Yorkshire rhubarb with blood orange and Earl Grey cream which was subtle and different (in a good way).
Wine: a glass of Vermouth, The Collector (the last of the greats) and a dark treacly Pedro Jimenez Jerez.
OUT AND ABOUT
You have beautiful Bath on your doorstep and it’s mostly downhill.
Good for: Foodies, wine-lovers, couples, friends, your parents, pretty much anyone who appreciates the finer things in life. Come in the morning for coffee and treats (sweet stuff); Sundays for brunch. Supper clubs, live music events and no corkage Tuesdays (first Tues of the month). The Counter will be opening soon as a deli.
Not for: People who want fast food and huge portions. Leave the kids at home.
The damage: Not too bad at all. Charcuterie plate £10, Cheese plate £12. Wine £5-9.50 per glass (175ml). Kitchen small plates £5-10; Treats/puds £7.
The Beckford Bottle Shop Bath, 5-8 Saville Row, Bath, Somerset BA1 2QP. Tel 01225 809302. beckfordbottleshop.com