Bath review: Cowshed

“We were all too ready to tuck into the rich and comforting likes of pork and black pudding Wellington, with its precisely cooked filling and golden flakey pastry”

JESSICA CARTER gets a tad more than she bargained for on her first visit to Bath’s Cowshed 

Cowshed is arguably best known for its original Whiteladies Road gaff in Bristol, which sits right next door to its sister butchery, Ruby & White. Back in 2014, though, it opened a Bath site, which perches on The Paragon in the city centre. The restaurant was redesigned recently, and now has a stylish, laid-back look – in keeping with its Bristol sibling – with spaces for socialising and sharing drinks and nibbles, as well as for more formal and intimate dining.

Deceptive from the outside, this restaurant – which is housed in a handsome grade II listed building – is not all it seems. The windowed frontage gives the impression of a cosy dining room, which you’d perhaps be lucky to squeeze into if you’d not already booked. There’s a whole lot more to this venue though – and by a whole lot we mean a winning alfresco spot with one of the best views in Bath; a light and airy dining space from which you can looking out on to the scenery through floor-to-ceiling windows; a cosy, underground area with bare brick and vaulted ceilings; and a chef’s table, where you can sit and watch the team of pros work their magic in the kitchen.


The latter is exactly where we made ourselves at home when we went to check out the foodie offerings at the Bath branch. The U-shaped seating around the huge table makes for social dining and means you’re not constantly shouting down to the other end for someone to pass the wine…

You’d be forgiven for thinking that somewhere called ‘Cowshed’, which has a sister butchery, is going to be all about the steak. Forgiven, yes, but still wrong. Of course, these guys know their beef, and sure, you’ll get a cracking dry-aged fillet, but you shouldn’t let that cause you to overlook the rest of the menu. And I’ll tell you for why. 

Reason number one is the list of starters. When we were there, these included pan-fried pigeon breast (£6.75) with dripping toast and fois gras butter (decadent without being too heavy or overpowering); al dente parcels of confit duck tortellini (£6.75), with velvety butternut squash sauce; plump, fleshy scallops (£8.95) with crisp pancetta, garlic purée and punchy wasabi; and meaty king prawns (£8.25) with homemade bread, and garlic and chilli oil. (Yup we nibbled at them all – there’s no place for judgment here). Not a steak in sight so far, and we were more than happy.

The menus change regularly, as is the norm, to reflect the seasons and use the best of the produce West Country suppliers have on offer. These raw ingredients are prepared simply but with skill, being allowed to shine in their own right. It was still rather chilly and gloomy when we took our trip, so we were all too ready to tuck into the rich and comforting likes of pork and black pudding Wellington (£16.75). With its precisely cooked filling and golden flakey pastry (no soggy bottoms here), it was served alongside an earthy mushroom sauce to complement the meaty middle and was a definite fave of the evening. Seafood, meanwhile, came in the fresh and delicate form of crab and lobster risotto (£18.75), given crunch with a brittle Parmesan crisp. Hardly just a token fish option, there (the seafood here comes straight from Brixham, FYI). For those that are after a hunk of beef though, we can vouch for the slow-cooked blade. A great-quality, tender piece of meat, it arrived alongside horseradish mash – the fieriness offset by the soft, cooling creaminess, making for a subtle and well-balanced flavour. We tried the chips, too – chunky and pleasingly crisp-skinned, they were fluffy inside and really well seasoned. There were, and, indeed always are, a strong line up of steaks, too. All dry-aged, they come in a handful of different cuts, including sirloin on the bone (£21.95), t-bone (£24.50) and rib eye (£24.70).

If you can get a dessert down you after all of that, then do: we had tasters of an insanely gooey chocolate fondant (£6.95) – how can something so bad seem so, so good? – as well as a considerably lighter pear fangipane (£6.50), and bread and butter pud (£6.50) made with traditional Bath buns. 

Okay, sure you can visit this local gaff just for an after-work drink or to catch up with mates over a bottle of vino, but do yourself a favour and book a table for a meal one day while you’re there, eh?

 


COWSHED, 5 Bladud Buildings, The Paragon, Bath BA1 5LS; 01225 433633