Sal’s Kitchen discovers… The Beach Bar at The County Hotel

The Country Hotel Beach Bar

What a summer we’re having! It’s transported me right back to those fabulously golden summer holidays you’d have as a kid, jumping off the school bus on the last day of term and basically not going back indoors again until September. No shoes, a faceful of freckles, a diet that was 90% ice cream – and for me, as a Devonian born and bred, long hot days spent on the beach. Although Bath has been my adopted home for over a decade and I love it to bits, if there’s one thing this city lacks it’s a place to get sand between your toes – until now.

If you’re fond of sand dunes and salty air, you need to get yourself down to the County Hotel, where they’ve transformed their terrace into the ultimate beach bar, complete with soft white sands, a tiki hut serving cocktails, and luxurious outdoor sofas and giant bean bags for lounging in style. Not only have they got a fabulous cocktail menu on offer, they’re also serving up some seriously summery food – so naturally I had to go down and check it out.

The County Hotel Beach Bar
Spiced Pina Colada

Settling ourselves on a gorgeous velvet sofa, piled high with fat fluffy cushions and shaded by a tasselled, embroidered parasol, with drinks in hand (a Mexican Watermelon Cooler for me, delightfully refreshing, and a Spiced Pina Colada for my dining companion) we inspected the menu. It was too hard to settle on just one dish each, so we went for a feast of indulgent holiday food – a chilli dog featuring bratwurst smothered with homemade chilli, sour cream and crispy onions, a quattro formaggio pizza loaded with melted mozzarella and gorgonzola, a tricolore salad with tomatoes, avocado, mozzarella and basil, and a basket of Cajun sweet potato fries.

The County Hotel Beach Bar
My absolute favourites of the dishes we tried – chilli dog and sweet potato fries

For me, the highlight was the chilli dog – a mouth-watering combination of flavours, with the perfect level of heat from the chilli – while my dining companion loved the simple summer flavours of the salad, and we both raved about the sweet potato fries, which are perfectly spiced and seasoned, and gorgeously crispy – whatever else you’re ordering, make sure you get some of these too. The pizza, meanwhile, was delicious (plenty of cheese, it’s hard to go wrong) but if I’m honest, the base was just a little tough.

The County Hotel Beach Bar
Tricolore salad: summer on a plate

Service was very cheerful albeit somewhat slow, but to be fair, at lunchtime on a gorgeous sunny day no one’s in the mood to rush – we spent several hours lounging on our sofa as we nibbled. And although we’d tucked into a beach banquet, we couldn’t resist trying something from the dessert menu, as soon as we spotted that a proper old-school knickerbocker glory was on offer. The tall narrow glass was packed with layers of vanilla ice cream, meringue, whipped cream and blackcurrants, and it was absolutely delicious – there’s something about the combination of cream and blackcurrants that feels particularly and delightfully English. My dining companion had intended only to try a mouthful or two, but I ended up fighting her for my half…

The County Hotel Beach Bar
The old-school summer superstar that is the Knickerbocker Glory

The County Hotel Beach Bar is offering a BBQ on Friday and Saturday evenings (the perfect time to get a few cocktails in) and all day Sunday, and I’m sure it’s going to be fabulous, but for me their beach bar is the ideal place to while away a sunny lunchtime – preferably one where you have no obligations in the afternoon, and can simply loll about in luxurious comfort whilst eating and drinking a lot of very lovely things, exactly as you would on holiday.

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