A visit to the elegant Royal Crescent Hotel and its resident restaurant, the Dower House, is always a special one. Set at the centre of the famous Royal Crescent in Bath, the five-star hotel and 3 AA Rosette-awarded restaurant really has the location on point, with a high level of service, delightful food and splendid interiors too.
The staff and their impeccable service really made this experience a wonderful one. As I set foot in the hotel, the concierge welcomed me by name, and guided me and my dining partner towards the restaurant, I had stayed a few years previously, so I knew where I was going but it was a nice touch.
Once I walked through the hotel and pretty courtyard gardens with a well-lit pathway, I was greeted in the restaurant building and guided towards the bar for a pre-dinner cocktail and a peruse of the menu. It didn’t take long to decide on the six-course tasting menu or to finish my deliciously fruity and refreshing strawberry crush, which consisted of vodka, Champagne, strawberry puree and finished with a strawberry garnish. Being autumn, more rich flavours find their way onto menus and this one looked varied and seasonal, with beetroot, lamb, pear and caramel, and I was looking forward to getting started.
We made our way through to the restaurant and tucked into the sourdough and tomato and basil breads before an amuse bouche of beetroot espuma with orange gel and fennel salt arrived. With tiny cubes of beetroot and the fruity gel sitting under a cool foam, with a sprinkling of the salt on top, this was lovely cool, fresh serving with good flavours.
We enjoyed a bottle of wine with the meal and our fantastic sommelier chose a gorgeous bottle of Argentinian Chardonnay, which I thought suited most dishes very well, especially the salmon dish, which was up next. This course turned out to be my favourite of the night – lightly cooked Loch Duarte salmon with scallop, Cornish crab, charred corn and Exmoor caviar was an absolute delight and one I tried to savour for as long as I could. With a very moreish puree, lovely scallop ceviche atop a generous portion of salmon, this serving celebrated seafood with decadent caviar and a helping of mixed crab and smoked salmon, offering up some gorgeous flavours to devour.
A fine dining take on a Full English breakfast, the duck egg dish was, I was informed, a popular one. A large, creamy and rich slow cooked duck egg sat atop rich ingredients including Iberico ham, truffle and black pudding along with some cherry tomatoes, toasted sourdough and a full and flavoursome chicken jus to pour over. With so many tasty, yet, full on flavours in the bowl I actually found this a difficult one to finish, which is unlike me! I really enjoyed all of the flavours and the bold ingredients used but perhaps less would be more here.
Barbecued lamb rump with braised neck, piccolo parsnip, black garlic and mushrooms a la crème was the next dish, and the sommelier treated us to a glass of a sumptuous red Rioja for this. This very autumnal dish held some lovely flavours, not too heavy, but very tasty indeed (especially the barbecue scents and tastes as well as the juicy rump) along with an array of excellent textures.
The first sweet course of the evening was caramel mousse with vanilla pear, puff pastry and pear sorbet. The pastry offered a crispy, savoury element, while the delicate pear slice, not-too-sweet mousse and zingy and refreshing sorbet made this a good all-round dish. Apple cheesecake with blackberry sorbet and cinnamon crumb was the final course and arrived very soon after, this looked fantastic with the different coloured layers making for a striking dessert. The gratifying and zingy combination of apple and blackberry were calmed with tastes of cinnamon and I ate as much as I could, but the course sizes were fairly generous for a tasting menu. Petit fours were an option, but we took those away to enjoy later.
It was a Monday evening in late October and not overly busy so the final few courses arrived very soon after we had finished the previous, which left little room to digest what we had just consumed, however, if too good a service is a bad thing, I think the restaurant is doing very well indeed. The one thing that struck, outside of the food we ate, was the professional, polite, polished and very friendly staff members that we encountered throughout the evening. Everyone went out of their way to make us feel welcome, special and to chat, I feel this fantastic level of service is a real credit to the hotel and restaurant.
IN A NUTSHELL
For a delectable dinner in Bath I would always recommend Dower House restaurant; the setting is resplendent, the service second to none and the food full of satisfying flavours using quality ingredients.
Address: 16 Royal Cres, Bath BA1 2LS / 01225 823333