As the weather gets warmer and the evenings get longer, I start craving holiday flavours – which for me means fabulous fresh seafood, as much of it as I can get. There’s nothing more summery, bringing back memories of incredible meals by the sea in Greece, Spain and France. So as soon as I discovered Allium Restaurant’s latest offering, a sumptuous three-course seafood menu with English sparkling wine from the Lyme Bay Winery, served on their beautiful sunny terrace, I just knew I’d have to try it out.
Allium is part of the Abbey Hotel, slap bang in the middle of Bath, so the terrace is the perfect place for a bit of people-watching, with comfy low-slung wicker sofas, plenty of greenery and, of course, wide umbrellas and patio heaters in case the summer gets a bit, well, British. Every Friday night from 5-9pm, you can try their seasonal seafood menu. It changes from week to week according to what’s fresh out of the sea, but involves a choice of three plates, each with several different delicacies – or you can order all three, plenty to share between two people, for just £35, which is a bit of a bargain in my opinion. If you want to wash it down with Lyme Bay’s delicious Brut Reserve Sparking, you can order it by the glass or splash out on a whole bottle for £38.
|How pretty is that oyster?|
We started, of course, with a crisp, chilled glass of the aforementioned fizz, which was absolutely delicious. I’m really excited about English wines at the moment, particularly sparkling ones – they used to be dismissed by most but lately they seem to be getting better and better all the time, and getting a lot more recognition too. I’m definitely going to be looking out for more from Lyme Bay Winery. The Brut Reserve Sparkling was the perfect match for the seafood, which comes served on a tiered stand, with glass plates the colour of crystal clear Mediterranean waters. Each one is laden with little edible works of art, bright with splashes of colour and sparkling with crushed ice. From the first plate, we tried fresh oysters with rhubarb and nasturtium oil (I loved the combination of oysters and rhubarb, which I’ve never tried before), a delicate, sweet scallop and strawberry ceviche, tender salmon glazed with miso, and a granita made with the same sparkling wine from Lyme Bay – I thought this was a particularly nice touch, gorgeously refreshing to the palate.
On our next plate, we found curried, battered monkfish cheeks with a gorgeously vibrant, fiery tomato dipping sauce, and chilli and garlic butterflied sardines on triple-cooked chips. The monkfish cheeks were one of the stand-out elements for me, especially with the sauce (which my dining companion and I both scooped up with extra bread, it was too good to leave) but I must admit I wasn’t too keen on the sardines. I never like all the little bones, and the chips were cold – this might have been on purpose, or maybe just because it was our second plate, but it wasn’t our favourite element.
|Creamy crayfish and dressed crab|
From our third and final plate, we had crayfish in a Bloody Mary dressing, served in curling baby gem lettuce leaves like delicate green clamshells, and dressed Cornish crab with caviar, grapefruit and peeled grapes. Both were absolutely delicious, classic summer seafood flavours with a little twist – I particularly loved the natural sweetness of the crayfish contrasted with a slight kick to the creamy dressing.
|Dreamy white chocolate mousse|
There’s no dessert on this menu, but our very lovely waiter promised to bring us a white chocolate mousse from the more extensive menu served inside the restaurant itself, and we were really glad he did because it was scrumptious, with coffee ice cream and a chocolate and pistachio crumble. Absolutely stuffed, we sank back into the sofa and finished off our bottle of wine while the stars came out overhead – is there a more delightful way to spend a summer evening? I don’t think so. In short, I’d have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Allium’s seasonal seafood menu – if you’re looking for a way to start the perfect summer weekend in Bath, this is it.