The Marlborough Tavern, Bath
Great food and drink in a central Bath pub where you feel like a local and far from the madding crowd
In the centre of Bath, just to the left of The Royal Crescent, right opposite Bath Approach Golf Course and less than 100m from the top of the glorious Royal Victoria Park. Very handy for pre- or post-prandial exercise with or without a dog, as well as cheap and – midweek at least – plentiful parking.
It’s Bath, so it’s Georgian – built in the 1770s and a public house since 1800 – with plenty of plain wooden tables and seating wrapped around the large central bar. The oversized illuminated stars and globe lampshades are quirky and cleverly serve to muffle the sound of any boisterous chat in the open plan space.
The walls are lined with fascinating black and white photos of ye olde Bath and banquettes with a not so fascinating yet olde Muddy editor (just to prove we visit all the places we review in person!)
Back in the day, the pub was popular with sedan carriers and servants and it’s still a laid back place, with a totally local, not touristy feel and even on a Monday lunchtime, a bit of a buzz. There was a woman working on her laptop with a coffee, people having a drink, and others – families with babies and young children in slings and pushchairs, a man with his dog, young women, groups of older people, us – eating lunch.
A largish outside space with fairy lights wasn’t looking its best on a grey winter’s day but I’ve heard it’s a sun trap in the spring and summer.
SCOFF & QUAFF
Jack Scaterfield heads up the kitchen team to cook up starters, mains, pub classics and sandwiches using West country ingredients that you can read about on the back of the menu.
For starters, roasted Cornish scallops which were plump, succulent and covered with an oh-so-garlicky, crunchy parsley crumb, with toasted sourdough and salad alongside. Ooh yes.
Here’s the Somerset goat’s cheese salad starter with candied beets, ginger and butternut squash puree, pomegranate and basil dressing. The salty creaminess of the cheese, sweetness of the squash and crispness of the beetroot made a winning combo of tastes and textures.
For mains, a choice of jerk poussin, Thai curry, wild mushroom and gorgonzola risotto, sausages & mash, fish & chips, steaks – and burgers.
These two may look alike but one’s a meaty Thai venison burger with kimchi, siracha mayo, little gem and tomato; the other’s a softish falafel burger with harissa creme fraiche. Both arrived with red cabbage slaw (which was very creamy and we felt needed a little more tang) and skinny fries, which were wonderful.
Only room for one dessert, though there were seven on the menu plus a cheese board, so it had to be one containing a superfood: the chia seed jelly and berry trifle with a mixed berry compote, mango, kiwi and a lemon sponge.
It might look a bit like frog spawn but chia seeds are super healthy – rich in fibre, omega-3, protein and minerals and digested slowly, keeping blood sugar levels stable – and it tasted good too.
Service: super friendly and efficient, though the pinging of the bell telling waiting staff that food was ready made us smile.
We will be back with the kids and the dog.
The Bath Approach Golf Course (12 and 18 holes, suitable for novices and experienced players), Royal Victoria Park (botanical gardens, Great Dell Aerial Walkway, play park, skate park, etc), the Royal Crescent (gaze at in awe) – and the rest of Bath city centre beyond.
Good for: Making you feel like a local. Relaxed, good food and drink with the kids (lots of high chairs), rellies, your mates – your dog – with tables from two to 10, in a central location that feels far from the madding crowds. Walk/golf/lunch combo. Cheap parking in Royal Victoria Park (less than 5 mins) and in Charlotte Street car park (around 10 mins).
Not for: Can’t think of reason not to go here if you want to enjoy good pub food in a laid back atmos.
The damage: Reasonable. Starters £6.50 – £9.50; sandwiches £9; mains £14.50 – £19.50; pub classics £14 – £24.50; desserts £4 – £7.
Open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and every morning for coffee from 9am.
The Marlborough Tavern, 35 Marlborough Buildings, Bath. BA1 2LY. Tel 01225 423731. marlborough-tavern.com