Sunday Lunch at The Cowshed
I have a confession to make: normally, I don’t really hold with roast lunch in restaurants. So often they can be a disappointment, unable to hold even the smallest candle to a home-cooked Sunday roast round Granny’s dining room table. But I am entirely prepared to make an exception for Sunday lunch at The Cowshed, because it was (please don’t tell my Granny) one of the best roast lunches I’ve ever eaten.
I was a keen devotee of dear old Bottelino’s, so when that restaurant closed its doors, I was really sad to see it go, but I must say that when you enter the same space now, you can hardly recognise it – what was a rather poky set of rooms and drafty terrace covered by a weather-beaten marquee, The Cowshed has transformed into a haven of light and space. I actually paused, mouth slightly agape, at the view you can now enjoy from the rear of the building, because I’d never really been able to see it before. There’s nothing dramatically original in the restaurant’s décor but it is a very pleasant space to be in – blond wood, lots of light, the old golden Bath stone revealed here and there – and the terrace, come the summer, is sure to be one of Bath’s most popular drinking spots.
We started out with a carafe of the house red, a really good Sangiovese Rubicone – and can I say, as well, that I always really like a restaurant that serves wine by the carafe, rather than making you choose between a bottle or a ridiculously overpriced glass? It just seems like a nice gesture towards customer ease and enjoyment, rather than profit.
To start, I chose the Beef Croquette with Horseradish and Lamb’s Lettuce. The flavours were really rich and glorious, but I have to admit that I felt frying it was unnecessary, because it made it a bit too greasy – if the filling had been served as a little stew, perhaps with some bread to sop it up, I think it would have been better. However, as I say, the flavours were fantastic. My dining companion chose the Vegetable Soup, which I feared might be a bit boring, but actually it was very pleasant – bright and zingy, with plenty of carrot, rather than potato brown.
For my main course, I ordered the Duo of Lamb, which comprised one lamb breast, saddle of lamb, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, gravy, macaroni cheese, carrot and swede mash, and spring greens. And yes, it was quite as enormous as that makes it sound. I didn’t care though, because I was in a complete roast lunch swoon, unable to stop eating even when I was full. Practically every detail was exquisite – the lamb was beautifully, meltingly tender, the roast potatoes were the most gloriously golden and crunchy examples I’ve ever encountered, the spring greens were cooked just right, the macaroni cheese was properly hearty and made with a really good, strong cheddar, as it should be. The gravy could inspire a diner to poetry (be thankful I haven’t taken that opportunity here). If you’re looking for somewhere to do the cooking for you of a Sunday lunchtime, I would unhesitatingly recommend The Cowshed. My partner, by the way, opted for a sirloin steak, since that is one of The Cowshed’s particular specialities (they work closely with the Ruby & White butchers’ in Bristol, so that they are involved at every stage of the rearing, butchering and preparation of the meat). Once I’d come down off my gravy high, he reported that it was thoroughly delicious.
Belts groaning, we soldiered on through the dessert course – I did it for you, dear readers. I had a beautifully light vanilla crème brulée with an immaculately crunchy top (just the thing after a heavy main course) and my dining companion chose an apple & pear bread & butter pudding. He’s no stranger to bread & butter pudding, so his standards are high, but he scraped the plate clean and pronounced it scrumptious.
To sum up, our meal was fabulous (the walk up the hill afterwards, not so much). Afterwards, I couldn’t stop daydreaming about that lamb (rather to the detriment of my productivity the next day), and we’re already planning our excuses to go back. Perhaps we’ll see you there.