Tuesday, 18 October 2011
Lime Lounge, Bath
This is a lunch quest update from Blythe’s sometime widget advisor, Angus and his travelling companions Helen and Kate, who all find themselves in Bath and in search of an independent lunch location. Bath is, of course, famous for its geologically heated spas, both historic and contemporary, so it seems appropriate to mention that prior to searching out lunch, our group enjoyed the atmosphere of the Roman Baths.
Included as part of the tour is the ability to sample a glass of the earth warmed natural spring water which apparently contains 43 minerals! Quite how this mineral count compares to Edinburgh’s trusty tap water is not known to me, and what properties these minerals impart was also not explained.
Anecdotally those in the queue seemed agreed they are “very good for you” although I am not sure this could have been backed up by a double blind clinical trial. Having all tried the water, I can report that both my dining companions screwed up their faces, and Kate reported that “it tastes like blood and there was too much iron”! This is actually not an unfair representation of the effect of drinking warm and slightly salty water.
Your correspondent found it reasonably palatable (perhaps I have hitherto undiscovered vampire tendencies?) and ended up drinking two glasses hoping for a double dose of goodness. All I can authoritatively report is that I wasn’t the least bit thirsty come lunchtime.
In terms of presentation the spring water is served from 3 spouts emanating from a two foot high Edwardian styled stone urn on a large stone pedestal, with the spa water flowing into the mouths of three ornate leaping fish. It goes without saying that this knocks into a cocked hat pretty much anything that even the most ostentatious contemporary bar can rustle up.
My scores for the spa water at the Spa Fountain at Bath Pump Rooms are as follows:
2/5 for food (or maybe this should be taste, as water having no calories doesn’t constitute lunch, anyway, while not unacceptable, “bloody water” doesn’t score highly for flavour or “mouthfeel”)
5/5 for presentation (I feel Edwardian urns should be used to dispense my beverages more frequently)
5/5 for service (which came with a smile, although that may have been the server’s bemusement at the number of punters willing to queue up and drink warm slightly salty water )
4/5 for setting (the Pump House is a bit cavernous and feels like Barbara Cartland might be wheeled in at any moment)
Water contains no calories (even naturally warmed water with 43 minerals) so we move on to find lunch and walked up towards the Royal Crescent, the famous row of Georgian residences overlooking Bath.
Having concluded that while it was all very nice, really what was needed was some food. Luckily the Lime Lounge in Margaret’s Buildings was just a minute’s walk away and provided a table outdoors and the offer of fleece blankets to keep us warm! This is a tradition I first encountered in the evening at in beach side bars in Estonia and one to be recommended as the sign of an establishment that understands it clients and their needs. Having said that, we turned down the offer, as the sun was still shining and the walk up Bath’s valley sides had warmed us up.
Service from our waitress was friendly and bubbly, and refreshingly like being back in the US, where keeping the punters happy is pretty much the norm. We kept our food order simple, and ordered the soup of the day and cream scones.
We can report that the Pea soup tasted and felt properly home-made (with proper bits of pea in it) and had nicely presented balsamic vinegar drizzled in lines on the surface, which both tasted and looked good. The bread served was warm and tasty, although I would have preferred to see more bread, and the butter served in a dish rather than the little individually wrapped butters, which are seem impossible to eat without ending up with both bread and knife handle covered in butter.
The scones were warm and moist and the cream served in proper dish, with individual jam samples and quickly got demolished by Kate. As a seasoned fan of the muckle big Scottish scone, I would say these were a bit on the dainty side, and in an ideal world, they should be a wee bit more substantial. However, there were no complaints from my companions. A debate did start on the order in which scone, jam and cream should be combined. We all agreed the scone goes on the bottom, but after that we failed to agree whether cream or jam follows. (Answers on a postcard please, c/o Mrs Trellis of North Wales).
As far as drinks go, your correspondent had a very tasty latte and Helen and Kate had bottled coke (skooshy coke would be outlawed if they had their way), which came with plenty of ice, lemon and lime and therefore met all the key criteria.
Margaret’s Buildings is a pedestrianized street of Georgian blonde stone full of the kind of shops which fit the browsing category, including a shop offering to fulfil both “my Alpine needs” and sell me strudel from its basement strudel bar! So plenty of quirky goodness available for those that like to browse.
Our outside table had an elegant vase with equally elegant flowers (which provided a good subject for photography), plus, without asking, an ecologically sound refillable bottle of tap water (another US dining habit that it’s good to see appearing as part of the UK dining experience). Inside the Lime Lounge was a compact bistro with a lively lunchtime buzz, and the menu looked easily extensive and attractive enough to warrant an evening visit.
Angus scores Lime Lounge:
4/5 for food (very tasty, but bigger scones please)
4.5/5 for presentation
5/5 for service (where nothing was too much trouble)
5/5 for setting
giving an overal 18.5/20
Today’s lunch questers were: Angus, Helen and Kate
We ate: Pea soup, and scones with cream and jam
We drank: spa water earlier, followed by Latte and Coke
Kate wore: A look of disgrace as her mother tries to tell her that the jam goes on the scone first and then the cream gets splodged on top.
Helen wore: Military jacket and heels, and a look of bemusement at Kate’s response.
Angus wore: The smile of someone enjoying weekday autumn sunshine on his face.
Total bill: c£20