Beckford Canteen – Bath
One of my and Mrs Yapp's preferred pastimes is visiting new dining establishments, preferably before we've read or heard much critical feedback from other people. It is something we have really missed out on since the Covid crisis and so we were delighted to get back in the game with a recent visit to the newly-opened Beckford Canteen in Bath. We managed to secure a lunch booking on a sunny Winter Sunday not having read or heard any reports from friends or critics. We were very familiar with the Beckford Group being frequent and enthusiastic visitors to the Talbot Inn in Mells but weren't certain what to expect of their latest venture.
Happily, we got off to a good start as it is housed in a terrific building that started life as Georgian greenhouse. It had more recently been home to a serviceable sushi and noodle bar but that was a victim of the pandemic. The main dining room is a light and airy space with comfortable furniture and someone with a keen eye has bedecked a wall in green plates which makes for an eye-catching feature.
In an era when switched on staff are a sought after commodity we were given a very cheerful and upbeat greeting from a team who impressed us throughout our visit. The menu and wine list are both sensibly short but carefully compiled and lean towards classic dishes that have been conceived by savvy head chef George Barson. On Sundays they make a feature of roasts for main courses complimented by some excellent starters and desserts that were never going to be an option for us as the portions here are on the generous side.
After ordering some sparkling water and a glass each of decent white Rioja we enjoyed starters of ham hock terrine and beetroot with goats' curd and walnut that were attractively presented and delicious. We then both opted for roast pork belly that was served with some excellent cauliflower cheese, steamed broccoli, some outstanding 'confit' potatoes, carrot, Yorkshire pudding and a little jug of gravy. We paired that with a glass of red Chinon 2018, for Pippa, and a glass of 'Château Fortia' Châteaunef-du-Pape 2019, for me, both of which were very good.
We finished our meal with an espresso and rounded our bill up to £140 after service had been added. We both really enjoyed the space, the food, the wine and, above all, cheerful, attentive and competent service that I was beginning to worry was a thing of the past. Beckford Canteen is a great addition to the Bath gastronomic, firmament and I am already looking forward to a return visit.