To be honest, if you’re reading this and you live in Bath, there’s a good chance you already know what the Locksbrook Inn is like – although it only opened a few weeks ago, it’s been packed to the rafters ever since. The Bath Pub Company (the family to which the Locksbrook belongs) has been teasing us about it for months, so anticipation was running high, and it seems everyone I chat to has already been down to experience the place for themselves.
On the off-chance you haven’t been, though, I think I’ll probably do my review anyway. The Locksbrook Inn is a little out of the city centre, tucked in amongst quiet residential streets, so the large courtyard is a lovely peaceful place, with views along the canal which runs past on one side. Inside, it’s a bit of a maze, with several large dining rooms and the bar connected by smaller, cosier spaces. It’s one of those places that could easily host big rowdy get togethers and intimate dates at the same time, without the former getting on the nerves of the latter.
When we visited, we were seated in a cosy booth in one of the larger dining rooms, which opens up all along one side to the courtyard. We immediately got stuck into the Locksbrook’s extensive menu, which offers all sorts from burgers to pizzas to fancier mains, and found it incredibly hard to choose, but eventually decided to start with the seacuterie platter (geddit? I love this idea) – a huge board overflowing with scallops, prawns, haddock fishcakes, gravadlax (my absolute favourite thing), tuna, green leaves and various breads. To be honest, this is my idea of heaven, and it was almost perfect – the only thing I didn’t really get was the tuna, which didn’t taste of much. Everything else was delicious, from the butter-soft salmon to the crispy fishcakes, and I had a tough job saving enough room for other courses. To wash it down, our waitress recommended a glass of chardonnay for me, which was an excellent choice, while my dining companion went for a frosty Stoney Bonk, from the fabulous local Honey’s Midford Cider.
It was a real struggle to pick a main, but in the end I chose spring lamb with pearled couscous, preserved lemons and mint gravy, which was sensational. The flavour combination was a fusion of springtime in England (lamb, asparagus, mint) and summer in Morocco (lamb, lemon, mint, couscous) and it just worked perfectly. The tart, almost medicinal flavour of preserved lemon is just the thing to balance rich lamb, whilst mint and lemon make fresh asparagus sing. The textures were also really well thought-out, from the bite of the asparagus to the soft, gravy-soaked couscous. Extremely highly recommended.
My dining companion decided to try out the Locksbrook’s pizzetta – that’s pizza, to you and me, the only difference being that at 9”, they’re slightly smaller than you might expect in a traditional Italian restaurant. I must admit I was sceptical – usually I find that unless a restaurant has devoted most of its menu to pizza, it tends not to get enough of the loving care and attention it needs – but I’m happy to be wrong in this case. The base was beautifully thin and crispy, and the toppings were nicely thought out and generously portioned – my dining companion chose the meatball marinara, with black olives and pesto, but I definitely want to go back and try the Thai bbq with chicken, chilli and ginger too.
The portions at the Locksbrook are pretty lavish, so again I had to restrain myself from cleaning the plate in order to have room for dessert, which was a sort of deconstructed banoffee pie, with light sponge, ginger crumbs, salted caramel and mascarpone artfully arranged in a squat kilner jar. It was nothing revolutionary, but the flavours were certainly fabulous and we scraped the jar clean between us (unable to face a whole dessert each). To wash it down, I had an espresso martini, which the bar staff very obligingly made for me with decaf coffee – a fabulously elegant way to finish your meal, if you’re bored with the usual cappuccino.
Throughout, service was speedy, friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere was great. There were so many tempting things on the menu that I’m already planning when we should go back – so all in all, top notch. Get yourself down there.