Ladies that Lunch

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Last Friday my mum came over to Bath for the day so we could go to the ‘Great War in Costume’ exhibition at the Fashion Museum (it’s only on till this Sunday – 31st Aug) so go quick if you haven’t seen it!)

It was really interesting, not least because it had costumes from the tv programme ‘Downton Abbey’ as the main attraction. There was also a lot of information about women’s roles during WW1, and suffragettes. The war certainly seemed to help the women’s rights movement – women couldn’t just be the home-makers anymore when there were jobs in factories and on farms to be done. Their clothes changed too – particularly underwear. The old-style corsets couldn’t be worn to do manual jobs, so more fluid styles were created.

It must’ve been strange for women when the war was over and they were expected to go back to their lives at home, and also for the men coming back from the war…

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Some great posters about food during the war – and the dreaded alcoholic drinks!

Anyway, on to the food!

We wanted a nice lunch, but nothing too expensive, so I did a bit of research the day before and looked at lots of set menu’s for restaurants in Bath. There are definitely some good deals to be had, but it all depends on whether you like the look of any of the choices on the menu! More so, because set menu’s tend to only have around three choices per course.

I always like the sound of the menu at The Circus restaurant, but we’d eaten there the last time mum came over for lunch, so I thought somewhere different would be nice.

Allium Brasserie at the Abbey hotel came up with the goods.

Their set menu was £17.50 for two courses or £23.50 for three, and I would’ve happily eaten at least two of the choices on each course – luckily mum agreed!

I also knew the food would look great, having eaten there on my birthday in the past, and the dining room is spacious and attractive – with modern art hanging on the walls.

This is what we ate:

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For starter, I had the Chicken and leek terrine, with pickled mushrooms, a mustard & potato salad, a Caesar dressing (and a bit of crispy chicken skin). This was really tasty, the terrine went well with the pickled mushrooms, and I saved some of their lovely bread to have with it too.

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Mum had what would’ve been my other choice – broad bean and pea salad with feta, lemon, goats curd, and chargrilled courgettes. It tasted as fresh and summery as it sounds (and looks!)

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For the main course I had Pan-fried gnocchi, girolles mushrooms, peas and broad beans, baby artichokes, and a hazelnut & mushroom pesto. This was the standout dish for me – the combination of flavours was great – the freshness of the peas and broad beans with the earthiness of the mushrooms and gnocchi – I may have to try and recreate this at home sometime!

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Mum had roast chicken breast with bacon, peas, carrot, baby gem, and pasta tubes. This tasted almost like a summery stew – quite delicate flavours, but with the richness of the bacon coming through.

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Mum chose to have a glass of prosecco as her ‘dessert’, but I was feeling greedy and went for a proper one (I was also feeling a bit tipsy after the wine we’d already drank so didn’t need anymore alcohol!)

I went off-menu for my dessert and onto the ‘a la carte’ menu. I normally try not to look at the main menu in a restaurant if I’m eating from the set menu, because I always decide I want something from the more expensive one! I didn’t feel too bad doing it this time though, as we’d already got our first two courses for £17.50.

I had a ‘milk tart’ with white peaches and peach sorbet, cinnamon, grated chocolate and mint. This was approximately £8 (it’s not on the menu anymore so I can’t say for certain).

It looked beautiful and tasted good – although I didn’t think it needed all the extra bits. I would’ve been happy without the chocolate and mint, I felt they overpowered the actual tart a bit, as it had quite a subtle flavour. It wasn’t like a traditional tart, it reminded me more of a mille feuille with its very crispy layers of pastry.

As it happened, the dessert ended up being free because it took a long time to get to me in the first place, so that made it a bargain!

We were impressed with the service we received throughout the meal, and particularly when ordering the wine. We had ordered a half-bottle of wine that wasn’t available, and were given a ‘free upgrade’ to the next bottle up, which was delicious – hence the tipsiness…

It’s definitely worth trying the set menu at Allium, as the food looks and tastes lovely, and of course the a la carte menu too, if you’re feeling a bit more flush!

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