The Chequers, Bath
Relaxed Modern British fine dining and pub classics in a central Bath pub that's been here since the American Declaration of Independence
The Chequers is quintessential Georgian Bath. It’s pretty mind blowing to think that people were supping beer on this spot back in 1776, the same year the Americans were declaring their independence from Great Britain. Menu’s changed a bit since then, though.
On a quiet road a few Georgian-house-lined roads away from the sweeping Royal Crescent, the Circus, St Margaret’s Buildings and Assembly Rooms. Park in the Charlotte Street car park and walk up through Bath’s Royal Victoria Park – couldn’t be easier – to a hidden gem that feels a world away (but is actually only about 5 mins’ walk) from shopping mayhem on George, Milsom and Walcot Streets et al.
On the ground floor, heritage pale blue walls with white cornices and mouldings lend a Wedgwood air, with a Baroque style mirror or two and some eccentric anthropormophic artworks around the place. Take a pew – literally – on one of the long wooden church benches lining the walls or a church chair.
The fresh roses on every table are a nice touch.
On the first floor, a smaller room with a New York tiled wall has a canteen atmos, with the added attraction of seeing live action – that’s chef Ross you can see there – in the kitchen.
SCOFF & QUAFF
We eschewed the selection of signature gin and tonics – Hendricks, Chase Pink Grapefruit and Pomelo, Star of Bombay, Oxley, Salcombe and Warner Edwards Rhubarb – as we were driving, for some fizzy water and cucumber and perused the menu. It changes daily, with a two- and three- course set lunch menu and an a la carte with Modern British and pub classics for lunch and dinner Mondays through Saturdays. Roasts on a Sunday.
The salt and pepper squid starter was light and crispy outside and tender inside, peppery but not mouth-numbingly so, with slivers of chilli adding bursts of extra heat, a creamy aioli and a squeeze of lime.
Very prettily presented seared mackerel fillets in a mussel sauce, with a little disc of sodabread topped with potted shrimps and precision dollops (can you have precision dollops?) of subtly tangy mayo which turned out to be flavoured with pickled cucumber.
For mains, beef onglet (the French name for hangar steak aka ‘butcher’s steak’, so called because butchers, recognising its superior flavour, would keep it back for themselves). Those butchers were right, the onglet was juicy and delicious and came with a vibrant green garlic crumb, green beans and Hollandaise sauce. Crispy, chunky chips on the side.
All good pubs have their own take on the classic burger and the twist here is that it comes in a pretzel bun – a crisp outer ‘shell’, yet soft and chewy inside. The red cabbage slaw was a tasty nod to the season. Those excellent chunky chips again. You can add bacon and cheese if you like.
If you want dessert, wear your trousers with an elastic waistband. This is a ‘light’ dessert: lemon pudding in a lemony sauce (fennel pollen custard) topped with a flapjack flavoured with lavender and drizzled with white chocolate. Delicious, moreish, naughty.
The Black Forest dessert is for hardcore chocoholics: a slab of dark chocolate terrine atop coca crumb, with white chocolate, black cherries and chocolate bark (another slab of chocolate) encrusted with pistachios.
Local ales and ciders and an extensive wine list (it comes in a fancy leather wallet), available by the glass and by the bottle.
Highchairs are ready and waiting.
OUT AND ABOUT
Shopping in town. A museum or two. The theatre. A stroll in the park.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Super relaxed fine dining away from the hubbub of the city but it’s there for the taking when you’re ready. Combine with a work meeting – there’s a room available. Their regular events sound good: lobster and game menus, a 9-course Roman Bath feast in the New Year…
Not for: No microwaved chicken in a basket here.
The damage: With three-course fine dining in Bath for just under £20, we say pretty good. Set lunch 2 courses £16 and 3 courses £19.50. On the a la carte, starters £7.50– £8.75; mains £18–£28.50; Chequers’ Classics £8–£24.50; desserts and cheese £8 –£9.50. Sundays menu, with a selection of roasts (including a nut roast): starters £6.50–£8; roasts £15.50–£42.50 (sharing roast for two); desserts £6.50–£9 (pub classic dishes also available).
Opens at 12 noon with lunch and dinner served every day. Book 01225 360017 or email@example.com