Another pre-theatre lunch, this time at Allium in Bath. The Good Food Guide says that executive head chef Chris Staines has ‘been around long enough to know what people want to eat’. We finally get to the brasserie after struggling through the hordes of Christmas Market shoppers and find Allium lively but a relative state of calm compared to the crowds outside.
As a rule, I don’t normally rave about bread – it’s rarely as good as the bread Rock makes at home. Today, though, we are served sourdough with rye and it is light as a feather with a really crisp crust and a beautiful flavour. No more standing on ceremony… I need to crown the moment with an excellent beer and the Gold from Bristol Beer Factory is just the right choice.
Rock orders the pan-fried cod on a throne of roast salsify with spiced lentils and red wine foam. I decide to be moderately adventurous and try the pan-fried “Magret” duck breast with a succession of miso braised turnips, figs, chicory and mushroom puree. We are both enjoying the food but my adventure is paying dividends as the duck dish is just a prince of flavour combinations.
We still have time to share a dessert and choose the warm almond financier with a parade of poached pears, salted caramel and an orb of bay leaf ice cream. More beautiful flavours.
The service has been very good and Chris Staines really does know what his subjects want to eat. We are now ready to face the shopping hordes again as we head to the Theatre Royal to meet King Charles III.