Friday, 5 August 2016

Garden & Forage: The Very Best Graduation Meal at The Pig near Bath


Nestled in a valley a few miles on the outskirts of old town Bath, amongst a kitchen farm of apple trees, vegetable patches and lavender, sits a handsome manor house with a most curious name. Inside its doors, rustic country style meets elegant classic architecture with an unpretentious medley of eclectic decor. Imagine having evening dinner in your granddad's greenhouse but having that food served by lovely smiling strangers; dinner at 'The Pig' is something like that. 

It's not particularly often that you'll catch me sharing a restaurant experience on this blog. I have always tended to shy away from that area of blogging as I never found a place that I truly wanted to rave about. In fact, this is truly the very first restaurant visit post and it's a very special one at that because this was where we went for my BA graduation celebrations - and that's the kind of meal you only do once.




When Dad asked me where I wanted to go for my graduation meal, I immediately thought of 'The Pig'. Since my second year of living in  Bath and having stumbled upon its existence in a good food magazine, I had been looking for an excuse to go. It had always lay just outside of my budget for spontaneous eating out (George and I are more 'Blue Monday at Yo Sushi' kind of people) but Dad wanted us to go somewhere special and I quickly suggested 'The Pig'. They had been described in the  local foodie magazine as 'freshly foraged and local fayre with a menu that changed daily' and with Dad being an ex-chef and me having hobbit-like enthusiasm for eating, it solidified in my heart as a must-visit (and the fact that it was the most photogenic looking restaurant I have ever seen in my life had nothing to do with it at all :P)

As well as a restaurant open to the public, the Pig serves as a hotel. It comes with acres of gardens which are used to grow food for the kitchens and they keep birds and deer which stroll about free range. This weekend, they were setting up for a music festival and had yurts scattered about for Glampers - something I am ashamed to admit (being a raggedy, working class country girl) I have always wanted to try. 








We arrived early. We knew the grounds were rumoured to be a delight and the city itself was so crowded it was a relief to break away into the lazy pace of the countryside. We meandered around, poking our heads around doors - every room was a treat for the eyes - and then took up a garden table where we sipped lazily at fresh drinks while we chattered and waited for dinner service. The staff were extremely accommodating, they had been brilliant from our reservation right up to our early arrival. Having spent a vast amount of years being a waitress, I tend to be a bit of a heller when it comes to judging service but these guys could teach me a thing or ten! The staff had mastered the perfect balance of being perfectly attentive whilst giving you space. You never once felt forgotten about nor did you ever feel watched over or encroached upon. Seriously guys! Hats off to you. 






The truly great thing about 'The Pig' is the attention to detail. N o t h i n g   has been overlooked. Not only had their staff mastered a level of 'perfect service' but everything from the design and stylisation of the hotel itself to the menu had been considered. You never felt bored waiting for your food (which was never slow) because there was so much to look at. I don't know about you, but sometimes I get a bit fed up with my chips being brought out in a miniature fryer basket or my mac and cheese served in falcon-ware on a chopping board. Sometimes the whole 'hip restaurant' aesthetic just gets a bit much - especially having worked in such a restaurant throughout my academic time in Bath (not mentioning any names) but sometimes it just comes across that places are just trying too hard. A restaurant will focus so much on its decor and ambience that it will forget about the food itself. Sometimes, the over attention to decor comes across as tacky and overbearing. Not at the Pig. Not once did I feel that the designing was just that bit overly kitsch and try-too-hard. The environment was that of a relaxed, country hotel with beautifully maintained gardens and a restaurant to match. The potted herbs that were dotted around meant that the place smelled   a m a z i n g   and if I could design my home to look like this, I would. 


Lord George of the manor 




The menu boasts that everything on it has been sourced within 25 miles, hence the name! It changes daily depending on what has been foraged or picked from the garden but to give you an idea, the day we went there was a mouth watering selection of fish dishes, tasty pork and chicken plates and nibbles like tangy vodka barbecue ribs, honey mustard sausages and quails eggs. 







Remember we were talking about attention to detail? There was a fresh bread basket on the table that never went empty and the faux bone handled cutlery and worn table layout really gave the impression of eating in the garden. The floral decorations on the food complimented this atmosphere and those five chipolatas were so tasty and didn't last two minutes. 
I did get a bit of food envy though when George and Dad's vodka smoky barbecue rib nibbles came out, but these little appetisers were great. We didn't go for full blown starters because we wanted to save room for our mains and I'm practicing this thing called 'not being greedy' :P Like I said, when it comes to food... I am a hobbit.




Nan and Dad had a platter of chilli rubbed chicken to share. It was a W H O L E chicken, cooked spatchcock style and arrived boned so that you only had to worry about the legs and wings. I deviated from my usual and had a sirloin steak - that sounds pretty boring for me since I tend to opt for dishes that I can't cook at home but I had been really craving a steak recently and it was absolutely melt in your mouth tasty. George had a goats cheese salad which he said was fantastic - how colourful is everything? The presentation was immaculate and even though my chips came in a flowerpot (Yes, a real terracotta flowerpot) I didn't cringe because it was a real flowerpot and not a pretend one and the table ware was absolutely gorgeous.

I ended up pinching some of Dad and Nan's chicken which was full of vibrant flavours and cooked to perfection. The texture was tender and succulent and the array of spices that it was marinaded in were complimentary, zingy and came with a kick without scalding the taste buds.




We decided to forgo deserts, but only because we felt so fed and full and didn't want to needlessly spoil a good thing. We moved from our conservatory table, back out onto one of the garden tables to watch the sun sink and enjoy the remainder of our wine.
Before heading home, I went off to explore the kitchen gardens which went on seemingly forever.
A picture says a thousand words and my fingers are stiff from cold water (I've just come back from the beach as I'm finishing this) so I'm going to let the images do the talking.





















If you're looking around Somerset for a spot for a special occasion, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Pig to you. Beyond being heartbreakingly insta-worthy (because lets face it, that's not really important :P) it really has the perfect recipe for not only a chilli and lime rub spatchcock chicken, but also a memorable evening. I would love to come back here for a stay in the hotel because if their restaurant is anything to go by, I know it will be amazing. Alternatively if you're on holiday in the Bath/Bristol area, I'd highly recommend getting a reservation here. Although Bath itself is filled with restaurants, I've yet to find one that is particularly memorable. It's rife with popular chains which is great when you want consistency and familiarity but for me, I wanted something quirky, unique and truly special for graduation. My family and I absolutely loved it and that's why I've decided to break my restaurant-blog-post-silence in order to rave about this place - because I truly believe it is something to rave about. 

Where to find it:
On the road to Weston Supermare from Bath, about twenty minutes in the car. Leave Bath at the Globe roundabout but take the road to as if you were going to Wells and not Bristol, then follow the signs to WSM for a few miles, keeping your eyes peeled for the little brown road sign directing you right down into the valley. 

Tips + Info:
  • Reserve a table! This place is very loved and you don't want to be disappointed, we booked up well in advance (months) and then tried to add some more people to our party later on (a few weeks before graduation) only to find out it was all booked up! 
  • Take a walk around the Kitchen Garden, it really is a must see. 
  • The bill includes a 12.5% service charge. 
  • Arrive early and take a drink in the gardens whilst soaking up the atmosphere. 
  • The hand wash in the toilets is the nicest smelling thing I've ever smelled. 
Life in Cornwall is still taking time to settle down. I took a new job and then left that job within a month, we're still living with family whilst waiting for our cottage to be available and I've just emptied my bank account on a new car because the old one just isn't reliable enough to travel around the UK for photography work. Although the weather has been just lovely this summer, I haven't exactly had the adventures I had envisioned but it's okay, the dust will settle and things will fall into place. In the mean time, I seek peace in the small fleeting things; the formations of clouds, a lovely shade of evening sky, the sight of the fishing boats bobbing on the harbour through the window at (former) work, the twinkling festoon lights along the harbour at night, the smells of farmyards coming through the window when I'm driving and the taste of proper clotted cream ice cream. 
Coming back here and adjusting to the real world hasn't been easy at all - it's been a turbulent and stressful venture and it's still ongoing. I feel like a little boat churning about the sea in a storm even though the sun is shining and the air is warm. It's a little strange at times. 
But we'll get there in the end. Wherever there is, because we always do. 




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4 comments

  1. Since I didn't get a chance to comment on your latest post yet (which I absolutely loved, by the way!), first of all congrats on graduating! :) And you really couldn't have chosen a better place to celebrate - what a gorgeous restaurant this is! I just marked it on my ever-growing UK bucket list in case I ever make it to Somerset and since I share your hobbit-esque approach to food I am sure I will love it as much as you do! It really does seem to be a perfect combination between restaurant and countryside mansion and, oh, how beautiful are those gardens? Anyway, I wish you the best of luck in this new chapter of your life! :)

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  2. Your photos are so so beautiful! I love Cornwall and visit often as my family live there, such a beautiful area. I'd love to live there one day actually but I have to finish my studies first. I also love Bath, a very fascinating city! I'm going through some life turbulence too but I guess that's just it. Best of luck to you!

    Sally - DiagonSally

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  3. Congratulations on your graduation, this place looks like the perfect place to celebrate! Definitely adding it to the list of places I have to go, it looks beautiful! x

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  4. This looks like the prettiest place ever! I'm a total foodie so am definitely adding this to my list to try in that area - my tummy is officially a-rumbling!

    http://thecornishlife.co.uk

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