Monday 12 May
We've always wanted to go to Bath, so the four of us took off on the train for an overnight stay.
After arrival, touring the Abbey, the Roman baths, and taking a rooftop plunge at the modern Thermae spa, we headed for a restaurant named after its location, Eleven Margaret's Buildings, on a small, quaint street between the scenographic Circus and the Royal Crescent.
Though its chef and name were both new, Holt picked Eleven out from an unbroken series of raves (which ours has now joined) on Trip Advisor. We found a small, modern, low-key bistro, were warmly welcomed and given a table in the window. Two big wooden platters of fresh bread, butter, oil-balsamic, and olives came out to stay hunger while we considered our orders.
The wine list is brief, but perfectly chosen to go with the foods on offer. The friendly server/manager got us a bottle of Gascogne that even Joel exclaimed over (La Reserve de Fontan, Côtes de Gascogne 2013), as Holt did later for the glass of meaty Malbec recommended for the venison.
Start with starters. The pan-seared scallops tossed on leaves with crispy bacon and balsamic glaze were luscious, but even they were surpassed by a twice-baked smoked salmon, cream cheese and chive soufflé with radish and pea shoot salad, plus a tranche of smoked salmon alongside.
Our mains were a pan-seared venison loin with pine nuts, roast squash, potato croquettes, wild mushrooms, and a sugary fig, in a dark port jus; and panfried sea bass fillets piled on sautéed potatoes in a moat of smoked haddock chowder, like a tower with a fennel portcullis.
All the dishes' building blocks were packed with intriguing flavors, and though the chef does tend to build towers topped with greens, every part of the ingredients agrees with every other part.
As our review said, we feel like friends already.