Set in the majestic Grade II listed pile that is the old Empire Hotel, with a view across the weir to the famous Pulteney Bridge, Framptons Bar is the latest addition to Bath’s foodie scene, and after a serious makeover, the interior is just as imposing as the exterior. Lofty ceilings, huge windows, exposed brickwork, embossed black wallpaper – it’s unlike anything that already exists in Bath. And it’s full of elegant little details too. I love the hints of industrial vintage (geometric glass terrariums with miniature cacti, filament bulbs, metal and leather bar stools) combined with a little glamour (splashes of gold, an elaborate glass chandelier). From the relaxed bar area, presided over by two towering beer kegs above a wall of carefully selected spirits, you can peek through shabby chic wooden bookcases into the more formal restaurant. Food is served on both sides, and the menu is a mix of gastropub classics with a few curveballs thrown in for good measure.
|A peek through the bookcase|
We started in the bar with a drink – Framptons has an excellent menu of gins so it was hard to choose, but eventually I went for Trevethan, a beautiful citrus gin that’s been made in Cornwall for almost 100 years. The bartender gets extra bonus points for giving me the tonic to pour myself – I like my gin with the merest glimpse of the tonic bottle, so I hate to see a really good gin get drowned. Sufficiently relaxed and feeling pleasantly hungry, we moved into the restaurant for dinner. I started with belly pork, scallops and watermelon (top image) – to be honest, I was mostly just intrigued to see if the combination really worked. Unfortunately, I’m not 100% sure it did – all the textures were a little soft, and while bacon often goes beautifully with scallops, pork belly doesn’t have quite the same oomph when it comes to flavour. However, the scallops were beautifully cooked, and one combination that did really succeed was the watermelon and the sesame seeds in which it had been dipped – very yummy. My dining companion chose avocado stuffed with grilled, spiced chickpeas, which although simple was delicious (and vegan, too).
|Stuffed avocado – a delicious vegan starter|
For our main course, we kept it classic – I ordered a ribeye steak with chimichurri, which was perfectly cooked and absolutely mouth-watering. The chimichurri was full of flavour and I couldn’t resist dunking my fries in it. The only wrong note for me was the summer vegetables served alongside, which just seemed a little out of place with steak and fries – to be honest, I was going for indulgence, not nutrition! My dining companion, meanwhile, chose the Frampton’s burger, complete with melted cheese, bacon, salad and gherkins, which he pronounced to be extremely good.
|The Framptons Burger|
To finish, we just couldn’t choose, so we opted for the dessert board, which features a little bit of everything – perfect if you suffer with indecision at the end of your meal. The platter included Somerset Eton Mess with lemon curd and strawberries, a dark chocolate brownie with dark fruit coulis and shortbread ice cream, and a crème brulee. The Eton Mess was my favourite part – often it can be a bit lacking in excitement, so I thought the addition of sharp, tangy lemon curd made it much nicer.
All in all, there were a few missteps, but we did try some lovely dishes. I thought the bar was particularly inviting, with a great atmosphere, so I’ll definitely be back to try a few more of those gins, and I’ll be looking forward with interest to seeing how Framptons get on as they settle in.