Maddie Bowman’s guide to eating, drinking and being merry in Bristol and Bath…
Home to some of the South West’s most accomplished eateries, including several Michelin-starred restaurants, a whole host of quirky cafés, and some of the best tapas bars this side of Spain, Bristol and Bath are two cities brimming with foodie delights, and what better time is there to sample the offering than over the Christmas holidays? Here’s just a few of our favourites to help you on your way.
Brothers Jonray and Peter Sanchez-Iglesias have been serving up award-winning cuisine at Casamia since 2006, when they first took over the running of the restaurant from their parents, Paco and Sue. They were awarded a Michelin star the same year and have since continued to push the boundaries of modern gastronomy with their expertly crafted dishes, all of which are made using the best seasonal produce available from the British Isles.
Casamia’s 12-course festive tasting menu is inspired by Jonray and Peter’s childhood Christmas memories and offers a unique take on traditional festive flavours. Discover a whole host of winter delights, including Brussels sprouts with bacon, and venison with parsnips, all jazzed up Casamia style, of course. Christmas dinner wouldn’t be complete without a serving of fruity, boozy Christmas cake and Jonray and Peter’s is sure to be one of the best you’ve ever tried. For a traditional festive feast with a twist, be sure to book a table at Casamia this Christmas.
The Pig near Bath
If you’re looking for somewhere to celebrate Christmas away from home, The Pig near Bath should be your first port of call. Nestled amidst the stunning Mendip Hills in the picture-perfect village of Pensford, this quintessentially English restaurant with rooms provides the perfect setting in which to enjoy Christmas lunch or dinner. Within this beautiful Georgian country house you’ll find a cosy interior adorned with rustic wooden tables, plush sofas and a roaring log fire to warm your cockles on chilly evenings.
Whatever time of year you visit you’ll find a seasonal menu adapted daily to incorporate whatever produce is available from the kitchen garden. Anything that can’t be grown on site is sourced from within a 25-mile radius, ensuring everything served is as fresh as possible. The food here is so fresh, in fact, that the details of the festive menu, which will be available on Christmas Day, haven’t yet been released. What is certain, though, is that diners will be treated to three delicious courses with mulled wine, homemade mince pies and freshly ground coffee – a very tempting offering indeed. The price per adult is £95 and children can dine for £45; be sure to book now to avoid disappointment.
The Rose of Denmark
Tucked away in Hotwells, just a few minutes’ drive from the ethereal woodland of Ashton Court, is The Rose of Denmark – a cosy 18th-Century inn serving everything from hearty British grub to tapas and curry.
While chef Euan Campbell’s food is inspired by his travels across the globe, his Christmas menu is distinctly British, featuring the best of the UK’s winter larder. To start, you might like to try smoked duck, venison and hare terrine with plum chutney and pickles, or beetroot and vodka-marinated salmon with saffron crème fraiche and soft quail’s eggs. If you like the sound of Euan’s starters, you’ll certainly be impressed by his sumptuous main courses, which include the likes of slow-braised belly of wild boar served atop celeriac and apple purée with cider gravy and smoked bacon-wrapped pheasant breast with roasted shallots and mushroom sauce. For dessert, delve into hot chocolate fudge cake with brandy and clotted cream ice cream, or Baileys and honeycomb cheesecake with kirsch cream and white chocolate. For a truly traditional festive treat, Euan’s brandied Christmas pudding served warm with quince and sherry custard is not to be missed.
Complement your meal with a pint of real ale, a glass of fine wine or an indulgent cocktail and your visit to this hidden gem is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. Booking in advance is highly recommended.