Sal’s Kitchen discovers… Margaret’s Buildings

Green Bird Cafe Bath
The gorgeous Green Bird Cafe

Bath is a beautiful place, full of interesting corners and little streets, and some seriously excellent independent shops, restaurants and cafes. This latest series on my blog is all about my favourite spots in the city, and this week, I’m celebrating Margaret’s Buildings.

Tucked into the peaceful residential area just round the corner from the Royal Crescent and the Circus, and dating from 1769, Margaret’s Buildings is surely one of Bath’s most picturesque streets, with its worn flagstones and urns full of flowers, and the view upwards from Brock St to the little park in Catherine Place. There are no cars allowed, so in the summertime, it’s a wonderful place to sit out in the sunshine for lunch or a glass of wine. In the winter, it’s liberally sprinkled with festive fairy lights, making it one of my favourite Christmas shopping destinations, but in fact it’s fabulous for shopping and eating all year round.

 Green Bird Cafe Bath
Soup & a half, one of my favourite lunches

A few weeks ago, I popped down to take a few photos and chat to a few folks. Unfortunately, it was chilly and wet – but I knew exactly what to do, and headed straight for the bright, cosy Green Bird Café. When in doubt, have lunch. The Green Bird is a lovely little café that’s always buzzing, hugely popular with locals and tourists alike, and their menu is simple but stunning. Needing a little warming comfort food, I ordered ‘soup and a half’ – an excellent lunch deal which gets you a bowl of soup and half a sandwich of your choice from the sarnie menu, for just £8.50. The soup was wonderful, bursting with fresh tomatoes and basil, but the ham, cheddar and wholegrain mustard toastie, made with incredible Bertinet Bakery bread, was the star of this show. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever had a toastie that good. I had to order the other half, that’s how good it was. As well as damn fine toasties and other lunch options, the Green Bird also does excellent coffee, cakes and pastries, and has a small selection of local goodies to buy and take home. If you haven’t been yet, I highly recommend this place.

 Homefront Interiors Bath
A photo from a different, sunnier, day… Margaret’s Buildings is gorgeous in the sunshine

Handily, the rain stopped while I was tucking in to my lunch, so once I’d finished (and restrained myself, with difficulty, from ordering a second round of toasties) I went for a stroll around. First of all, I popped next door to Homefront Interiors, a fabulous little shop that’s full of beautiful things for your living space. Full disclosure, I work with Homefront, writing their blog, but even if I didn’t I’d still love this place. The range is fabulously eclectic, so you never know quite what you might find, but the unifying theme is sustainability – from home furnishings made with gorgeous upcycled and recycled materials, to beautiful restored vintage pieces, to decorative work, pottery, jewellery and stationery by local independent artists (something owner Vanessa is particularly passionate about). They run some great workshops too – check out my review of their lampshade workshop and admire the amazing lampshade I made. Oh, and fancy finding out more about my blog-writing services? Just click here.

 Homefront Interiors Bath
Fabulous finds in Homefront Interiors

Next, I crossed the street to Jonathan Potter’s Antique Maps. It’s the sort of fascinating shop you’d expect to find on an old street like this, with a window full of beautiful charts and maps that I always stop to look at. I must admit I’d never been in before as I felt like I needed an excuse (I don’t quite have the budget to start collecting antique maps) but Jonathan and Helen couldn’t have been more welcoming. It’s always wonderful to get someone chatting on a topic they really care about. Helen took out some of her favourite pieces on the local area to show me, including an amazing map on a paper hand fan from 1793 (the perfect souvenir to keep one cool and stop one getting lost) showing the old city and on its outskirts the meadow, King’s Mead, that would one day become Kingsmead Square. If you’re interested in local history I particularly recommend a visit.

Jonathan Potter's Antique Maps
See the King’s Mead, top left?

Margaret’s Buildings may be small but it’s packed full of fabulous independent places, and you could easily spend an hour or two browsing. Other highlights include Heavens Bazaar, which has an amazing collection of vintage clothing and jewellery alongside home furnishings, Bath Old Books (full of fascinating finds for bookworms), newcomers Ellie Rose Bridal (with a window full of exquisite, dreamy, fairytale gowns) and Rustico Bistro Italiano, a great little Italian restaurant which may be one of Bath’s best kept secrets – it’s cosy and friendly, and the menu is minimal but really authentic and full of absolutely delicious dishes. If you haven’t been for a saunter along this little street yet, then make yourself a date with Margaret soon.

Do you have a favourite street or square in Bath? Leave me a comment and let me know where I should explore next!

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