Restaurant Review: Menu Gordon Jones, Bath in Somerset
As cities go, Bath is up there with the best of them when it comes to its selection of Michelin starred and fine dining eateries. A foodie’s paradise with hundreds of high quality restaurants to choose from and a number of renowned chefs in their midst, this is one destination that will leave you spoilt for choice – and it’s well worth doing your research if you want to make the most of your visit.
Regional winner of the Good Food Guide’s Restaurant of the Year 2015 and listed in the Sunday Times Top 100 Restaurants 2016, Menu Gordon Jones is an unlikely jewel in Bath’s crown at first glance; an intimate and cosy affair with just eight tables and an open kitchen, spacious it is not – but it is all part of the air of exclusivity the tiny establishment exudes, its limited capacity making it all the more sought after. It is unique, too, treating diners to an eclectic setting with a background soundtrack of relaxed, indie music and a reasonably casual dress code– accessible and inclusive fine dining at its very best, some might say – and if you can afford the £75 a head price tag, then you’ll always be welcome. It’s a battle to get a table here night in, night out, and often booked up months in advance – though once you have had a taste of what Menu Gordon Jones has to offer, it’s easy to understand why.
Offering up a stylish and contemporary 7 course tasting menu that shrouds each dish in mystery until the moment it lands on the table in front of you, diners are given just a hint of what is to come, with waiting staff teasing the flavours you can expect next whilst remaining tight lipped about anything more. The menu changes on a regular basis, too, allowing the restaurant to maintain the element of surprise for repeat visitors – and each and every dish is inspired by the freshest seasonal produce, carefully combining the very best ingredients to create artfully presented and incredible tasting courses.
The first restaurant opened by up-and-coming cooking talent, Gordon Jones, the owner and head chef attributes his cooking success to his mother’s fresh approach to food and Scottish upbringing. “I grew up in Buckie, Banffshire and money was tight. Everyone grew vegetables and cooked everything from scratch. But it wasn’t until I started writing menus and developing my own cooking style, I appreciated how much my upbringing had influenced my passion for food”, he explains.
Having worked alongside various Michelin-starred chefs including Martin Wishart in Edinburgh and Martin Blunos at Blinis in Bath, Gordon made a name for himself at one of the city’s most sought after hotels, excelling in his role as Head Chef at the Royal Crescent. Adding some increasingly impressive strings to his bow along the way, he eventually returned to Bath to open his very own restaurant. And at Menu Gordon Jones, all the ingredients for a truly amazing eaterie are there – but does it live up to expectations?
We were well attended to from the moment we were seated; one thing is undetabatable – the service here is impeccable, the staff oozing with culinary knowledge and able to answer just about any question you’re ready to throw at them.
Opting for the wine flight to accompany our journey through the evening, we are informed that some ‘bread, snails and test tubes’ will be arriving with us shortly to start us on our way. Had we become part of some kind of science experiment!? It appeared so, but the snails arrived succulent and crispy in paper cones, with a selection of soft, freshly baked breads still warm from the oven, and a light and creamy whipped butter. The test tubes? Not as unnerving as they sound – a selection of oils and balsamic for dipping, and nothing more outlandish.
With our appetites whet, the next course is welcome, and we are treated to Cepes mousse with a cheese and onion madeleine, accompanied by Adobe, Gewurztraminer (2015, Chile). The mousse is a warm, foamy, mushroom affair – rich and creamy, and perfectly complemented by the crumbly, freshly-baked and utterly mouth-watering madeleine.
Next up is a Tartare of Salisbury venison with mung bean mayonnaise, radish, cucumber and watermelon. This is truly melt-in-your mouth stuff; the meat slightly salty and well balanced with the hydrating salad elements, which cut through the slight saltiness of the dish with ease. Washed down with Meinklang, Pinot Noir, (2015, Austria), it’s the first of three main courses – and a strong start to the evening’s main eventa.
From here, it’s onto the roasted wild seabass with cauliflower, raisins and smoked eel croquetas, accompanied by a glass of Chateau la Canorgue, Luberon Blanc (2015, France). A more delicate fusion of flavours to mark the midway point, with each element expertly arranged in another beautifully presented dish. The thing about Gordon’s menu is, not a single ingredient makes it in by accident; each has a strong purpose, and his instinctive way of combining flavours shows serious culinary flair.
The roasted squab pigeon is the biggest surprise of the evening, served up with with coleslaw, Jerusalem and Japanese artichokes, scarlet elf caps and a hot and sour consommé. Having sampled pigeon on countless occasions in the past, I have never been overly keen, so it came as something of a shock to find that this was, in fact, the star of tonight’s show. Tender and succulent, this was a more delicate flavour than I was expecting, but every bit as rich and velvety as squab pigeon should be. The accompanying La Bettola, Barbera D’Alba (2013, Italy) proved to be the perfect partner – though at this point, we were nearing capacity!
The arrival of a beetroot, cucumber and red cabbage sorbet on the table to cleanse our palettes signalled that the end of the meal was nearing. The intense explosion of flavours our tastebuds have been treated to thus far had been an experience, but we were thirsty for water and dehydrated from the wine! Light and refreshing, it slips down with ease alongside a glass of Le Noisette, Gros Manseng (2016, France), and despite our increasingly full stomachs, leaves us renewed and eager to sample the final course – dessert, of course!
A light and fluffy Ecclefechan soufflé with crab apple pate de fruit and rhubarb sorbet rounds of the meal, and although we had been expecting something altogether more decadent, it’s a fitting end to a wonderful meal. The tartness of the rhubarb against the sweetness of the sorbet makes for a delightful assault on the tastebuds, and we end the meal feeling satiated and content, thrilled with all that the evening has bestowed upon us. Finishing one final glass of wine – San Grod, Moscato d’Asti (2015, Italy) – as best we can, we leave feeling sad that the experience has come to an end – but entirely certain that we will be visiting again soon.
In a nutshell:
Gordon Jones has got cooking down to a fine art, right from his skilful combination of flavours to the beautiful presentation of his dishes. Menu Gordon Jones offers something that other fine dining restaurants do not; accessability, and a truly relaxed atmosphere. Everyone is welcome – that is, if you can get a table! A treat for the senses from beginning to end, and one that comes highly recommended by LLM.
Address: 2 Wellsway, Bath BA2 3AQ
Phone: 01225 480871
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