Restaurant Review: The Dower House at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa in Bath
Sitting nicely in Bath’s famous Royal Crescent is 3 AA Rosette holder, The Dower House Restaurant. The eatery is hosted by 5 star luxury, The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa and offers delightful views of the hotel’s secluded gardens with garden dining options in warmer months.
Executive head chef, David Campbell, lists presentation and ingredients among the key aspects of his culinary success. He stresses, “meat, game, fish and cheese are all sourced locally, complemented by the very best of what the continent has to offer, our only proviso is that it has to be in season, fresh and of the highest standard. That way we can keep the flavours true to themselves and at the forefront of everything we put on your plate.”
I was invited to dine at the restaurant during my stay at the hotel and I was intrigued to see if the food lived up to the standards set by Mr Campbell. I started my evening with a raspberry Champagne cocktail with my fellow guest, Nick, in The Montague Bar & Champagne Lounge, which is also part of the hotel. The relaxed atmosphere was aided by the contemporary blue, walnut, silver and beige décor and furnishings and it set us up well for our evening ahead. We sipped our drinks while we made our choice to sample the ‘Taste of the Crescent’ six course tasting menu. Before we left we enjoyed an amuse bouche of goat’s cheese, onion and radish on a thin crisp, green olives and crispy potato, chicken and cheese croquette. This was a pleasant start to the meal and a good introduction into what might lie ahead.
We made our way through to the elegant restaurant, took our seats and tucked into a selection of tasty breads. Our table was tucked away next to a window and glass wall filled with wine bottles and wine paraphernalia – the other side of this wall making for a striking entrance into the building. The restaurant is decorated in a classic style highlighted with modern touches. Spotlights offer low lighting, fifties music plays and dark blue and truffle colours complement the pale walls offering us a relaxing environment for the evening.
Course one of the tasting menu soon arrived and consisted of cep soup, roast pistachio, pickled mushroom and Wiltshire truffle. This introductory course awakened my senses with its deep, earthy flavours and creamy textures. Crunchy and spongy mushrooms sat in the bottom of the small dish while the thick, rich and creamy soup sat above, followed by the tasty truffles and a sprinkling of chives, while lifted the heavy flavours to make a great start to the meal.
Course two consisted of cured, smoked sea trout and salmon, dill, oyster soup, Cornish caviar and samphire. The dish arrived at the table with an element of theatre with a glass lid holding in smoke. Once the lid had been lifted and this flourish of activity had passed I tucked into this cold dish and enjoyed the tender and plump trout and salmon. The food was full of flavour with raw onion being the most prominent one. The onion and radish added a welcome crunch to the plate and the oyster soup was a gentle addition. This was a good sized portion of food with gentle and strong tastes.
Our third course was a slow cooked duck egg with chicken essence, Iberico ham, mushrooms and chicken crisps. I am a big egg lover so this dish was well suited to me. The ham added a salty, smoky flavour, which suited the richness of the egg and the chicken essence in the sauce was tasty, while the crisp added some much needed texture to an otherwise rather sloppy textured dish due to the egg. I could have done with something to mop it up but overall it was another flavoursome plate of food that was well enjoyed.
Course four, and our main course for the evening arrived soon after, consisting of Everleigh Farm venison loin, beetroot, horseradish potato, red wine salsify and rainbow chard. The beetroot was cooked three ways – pickled, roasted and puréed – and spiced blackberries were added to the dish. We greatly enjoyed the pink and tender venison along with the rich flavours in the vegetables, all of which were well complemented by the choice of wine for the meal; Domaine Fabrice Gasnier, ‘Vielles Vignes’ Chinon. The potato was mashed and creamy while the heat and sweetness of the beetroot was tasty and the perfect accompaniment to the high quality piece of red meat. You need to like beetroot to fully enjoy this dish and, luckily, I do! The lovely spicy and sweet flavours and the creamy mash made up a delightful plate of food.
Course five was something I was really looking forward to trying. The B.F.G – Black Forest Gateau – intrigued me as I have recollections of trying defrosted versions when I was young and not liking it very much – luckily this was not supermarket knock off! Panna cotta sat in the bottom of the dish, topped with a raspberry jelly and sponge, tiny crunchy dried raspberries, chocolate sorbet, cherries and flaked chocolate. The cherries were tasty and the jelly had a great wobble to it, while little sour bites of the dried raspberries added a great kick to it. Fantastic sweet flavours combined with soft, juicy and crunchy textures to make this my favourite course of the evening so far.
If one dessert wasn’t enough, a second soon followed, making this our sixth and final course. ‘Banoffee’ arrived looking exceptional. This deconstructed banoffee pie was wonderfully put together on the plate and ended the meal with flair. Caramelised banana chunks, banana sorbet, caramelised popcorn, rolled cream cheese coated in a biscuit crumb, whipped cream mounds, banana purée and chocolate and toffee sauce all sat in harmony together on the plate. The fun of taking different elements and combining them in my own way was fun and I loved the flavours and textures on this plate.
Just in case we could fit some more in we were bought a selection of fine petit fours. A lovely Mojito macaron, tasty strawberry ice cream ball coated in white chocolate, salted caramel fudge and lemon and poppy seed cake truly finished us off.
If I were to be picky I would say that one or two dishes could benefit from a tiny extra to perfect it and at least one of the waiters dropped our plate off with no explanation. However, these are very minor in comparison to the evening overall from the lovely way in which Nick and I were treated to the quality of the cooking itself.
In a nutshell
The restaurant sits in a remarkable location in a fine British city and showcases the very best of the finest British foods and cookery styles that can be found today. It was a delight.
Address: The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, 16 Royal Cres, Bath BA1 2LS / 01225 823333
Natasha’s visit to The Dower House was kindly organised by Bath Tourism Plus – the official tourism website for Bath and beyond.