The Bell Inn, Bath

At last, a welcome return to restaurant critique and travelling around the country. Featuring the first pizza on this site for nearly a year…

I don’t know why but we generally have a lull in restaurant reviews in between October and November. Financial preparation for Christmas, I guess. Nevertheless, we’re back and in reviewing a place in the city of Bath for the first time.

To give you a bit of context, I was in Wiltshire once again reviewing the Trowbridge Symphony Orchestra and their most recent concert. Daniel Gibson and Jack Tunney were in tow. And we had been told about another gig going on in Bath the following day — a popular “Early American Roots” band called The Hot House Four. They’re well worth a listen on YouTube if you’re curious. Very multi-talented musicians with a great and varied repertoire, ranging between the genres of western swing, blues, hokum, jazz and ragtime.

Anyway, they were playing at The Bell Inn in Bath, where there is also an outdoor pizza kitchen, called Pizza Bike. It was a modest selection of pizzas on the menu. Not too varied, but I guess they have to be easy to whip together and cook in the space of ten minutes. At that point in the day, I wasn’t too fussed. I just wanted a pizza!

The Somerset Special — Cheddar cheese, Tomato sauce, Basil and Oregano

While Jack contented himself with a somewhat more adventurous Pepperoni Pizza with Jalapeños, the now-pescatarian Dan and I opted for a more understated Somerset Special (see pictured). That would be with cheddar cheese and fresh basil leaves, drowning in a gorgeous, rich tomato sauce and dusted with oregano.

First of all, those colours are just so appealing! Rich reds and greens – very festive, I know. But, in all seriousness, I find nothing more offputting in a pizza than loads of burnt browns and blacks. Appearance-wise, this pizza was one of the best I have had. I just wish the takeaway boxes hadn’t been necessary.

It did a lot for me in the flavours too. I didn’t find the cheese tasted any stronger or anything than in a regular pizza. So, if it was cheddar, it can only have been a mild one. The crust was firm and did not disintegrate under all that sauce, which in and of itself was beautiful, rich and flavoursome. The basil leaves added that little extra Italian genuineness. Delightful.

As a venue, I felt The Bell had more to offer outside in the beer garden than inside. It may have just been testament to the Hot House Four’s popularity, but it was quite cramped in the bar, with some latecomers to the gig having to watch from the front doorway. The spacious beer garden was attached to a makeshift outdoor record shop, plus a sheltered pool table. But I’ll wager that, in the hotter months, it gets much busier out there.

This will be the only review you will see this November; but be assured I have loads lined up for the upcoming festive season. And the revelations of this year’s best and worst tried and tasted restaurants…

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