What tourists don’t know or embrace about Bath is the wonderful countryside that surrounds our stunning city. Bath itself is beautiful, rich in culture and architecture, with a vibrant foodie scene – why do you think so many disillusioned Londoners escape the rat-run and move here?
Yes, my love affair with Bath is mainly about food – but also easy access to breath-taking countryside. At the weekend I love nothing more than escaping the hordes, donning the walking boots and finding a good pub!
Growing up in Bath, my family were regulars at The Inn at Freshford, a traditional pub in an outrageously beautiful setting. I was delighted when the Ideal Trade Co took over and brought a somewhat crummy local inn into the 21st century.
It’s now a traditional country pub with contemporary craft flavour, worthy of lifestyle magazines and Instagram, with its original timber beams, open fires and a beautiful garden.
As a foodie, this place doesn’t disappoint. The Ideal Trade Co is a group of gastro pubs focusing not only on interiors, location and service, but on putting food at the heart of their offering. This isn’t your typical pub grub place – they have taken gastro pub grub and elevated it.
A focal point of the menu is the Smokehouse, located in the stunning pub garden. It doesn’t dominate the offering, there is a lovely balance of dirty food (BBQ ribs) pub classics (fish & chips) and finer dining (pan-roast hake). It ticks every box – big family gatherings, rugby lads’ night out and girly gossipy dinner.
We rather overindulged on this occasion, the menu reads so well that you get somewhat over-excited… do not get sucked in, the portions are huge!
We started off with a glass of local cider (Iford Cider is just 1 mile away) and a Chilean Sauvignon from the surprisingly comprehensive wine list. Starving after a hard day’s hamper-packing, we ordered the pork scratchings. Crisp, fatty and devilishly moreish, we devoured half a pig’s worth of crackling (£4), dipped into a local cider-apple sauce.
Eager to sample some more small plates from the menu, we had the ‘hero of the night’ dish: crab on toast with pickled fennel (£6).
The sourdough toast was opulently stacked with creamy crab, pickled fennel and zingy dressed salad. I was rather loathed to share this with Mr Taste of, who tucked into a mushroom dish topped with local Wyfe of Bath (£6), superbly cooked and seasoned with garlic and herbs.
Feeling somewhat stuffed already (I think the crackling portion did us in) we tackled our mains.
Mr Taste of (a bit of a BBQ nut) tried the house-smoked sticky ribs (£18), a vast succulent, melt-in-the-mouth portion, with BBQ sauce on the punchy side of spice rather than sickly sweet. He adored the ribs and sweet potato fries, but oddly for my carnivorous sous-reviewer his highlight was the celeriac remoulade on the side.
Now, prepare your eyes for this bad boy! I opted for the ‘Cow Pie’..
I love a mystery and this Cow Pie (£14) was too intriguing to say no to. The suet-based pastry was filling and flavourful, the beef tender and melt-in-the-mouth, the vast chunks of veg a welcome addition (less guilt-inducing). The sauce could have been a little thicker, the bone could have been filled with marrow… but wow what a triumph! No need for chips, this pie is a dish all in one, this was perfectly paired with a fantastically fully bodied Argentian Malbec
Surprised by how accomplished the dishes had been so far, despite the full tum, I embarked on pudding: chocolate mud cake, laced with choccie sauce, Bath Soft Cheese Vanilla ice cream and honeycomb chunks (£7). It was no patisserie masterpiece, but it satisfied the chocolate craving one often feels when treating oneself.
Freshford do food well, better than most gastro pubs – these guys are so proud of their pudding selection, they even set up the Freshford Cake Company.
There is even a handy little walk between Freshford and Avoncliff if you fancy it!
This company’s ethos is quite clearly to create a countryside haven for discerning locals and city-dwellers alike, accessible not just by car but also via the canal cycle paths or trains to Freshford (request stop only – how endearing).
The attraction of this place is not just Sunday lunch (which is offensively good) or a long pub supper with chums. This is my special place to retreat to! Long summer bike rides, with a good BBQ lunch and Pimm’s in The Freshford Inn’s beautiful pub garden.
More often than not, in the craziness of winter season (hampers, hampers, hampers) you will find the Taste of Bath team retreating to this countryside treasure – slumped in leather armchairs, staring into the real fire!
Resurrected only by a stonkingly good local brew and a board game…
Win a £50 Voucher to spend at the Freshford Inn
Terms and Conditions Apply:
Voucher has no cash value, valid on food purchases (not drinks) and must be used in conjunction with no other offer- Valid Monday- Friday, 12pm-9pm, until 30th November 2018.
All entrants must be 18 and over. Entries will close on Wednesday 16th May.
By entering your email into this competition you are giving consent to be joined to both Taste of Bath and The Ideal Trade Co. Mailing lists- you details will not be passed to any additional third parties.