A pared-back menu is an advantage when it’s put together with this much expertise, says Tom.
Review: Upstairs at Landrace
If it isn’t love at first bite, then it’s most definitely lust. Parmesan fritters, so ethereally light that if they weren’t covered in a blizzard of cheese, I swear they’d float away. Fresh from the fryer, these plump golden pillows offer a moment of resistance, before dissolving into a hot, luscious mess. There’s Tuscan lombo too, sliced tissue-paper thin, the alabaster fat fragrant with fennel. And chewy, intensely piggy rounds of Westcombe saucisson, which shows the fine Somerset dairy is not only a master of cheddar, but charcuterie, too.
Upstairs at Landrace may be little more than a tiny ‘restaurant above a bakery’, but this Bath newcomer punches well above its weight. Head chef Rob Sachdev trained at Brawn and The Quality Chophouse, and his pared-back menu, scrawled daily on a blackboard, is as unfussy as it is alluring. There’s a half dozen local ciders by the big bottle, and a wine list that eschews the predictably dull.
A swaggering, gloriously punchy puntarelle salad is draped in Cantabrian anchovies, the crisp, bitter leaves wearing a mustardy dressing with just the right amount of citrus kick. A fistful of fried breadcrumbs adds yet another layer of crunch. At the other end of the spectrum isa dish of raw scallops, clean and pure. The shellfish, impeccably fresh and winsomely sweet, are mixed with chunks of blood orange, slices of celery and scraps of radicchio. There’s a beautiful balance to the dish, both in flavour and texture. Every ingredient has a role to play.
Fresh made garganelli has a sauce of wild garlic and lemon zest, a dish with joyous spring in its step, and one that matches the sunshine flooding through the windows. Trout, a mite overcooked, comes in a classic French butter sauce, heavy on the green herbs, with silken leeks and the very first, minuscule Jersey Royals. While puddings – a bracing Amalfi lemon tart, easily the equal of The River Café, and a Yorkshire rhubarb trifle that’s pretty much inhaled in awed silence – remind us that sweet can sometimes be the equal of savoury. It’s one of those lunches where the confidence and vitality of the cooking, and the charm of the service, makes the whole thing seem effortless. But it takes talent, experience and hard work to make a restaurant this good. The art lies in making it all seem so easy.
About £30 per head. Upstairs at Landrace, 61B Walcot Street, Bath; landracebakery.com.
DRINKS: Olly’s wines to go with Easter eggs
Sweet and fortified wines offer some of the greatest wine bargains, but their high quality remains overlooked. Sure, you could reach fora pink Prosecco to sip with your Easter eggs, but it’s not sweet enough to carry the day. Less fashionable options like cream sherry, Asti and Ruby Port are far more pleasing. These are packed with such richness that a little goes a very long way. Small glasses, big impact, great fun!
WINE OF THE WEEK: TORRES FLORALIS MOSCAT EL ORO (15%), £6.99 (on offer until 19 April), Waitrose. Orange-scented, luscious and sumptuous to serve chilled. The best all-rounder with chocolates.
PALE CREAM SHERRY (17.5%), £7.50, Morrisons. Packed with tangy sultana flavours, serve this chilled with salted caramels.
MALAMADO FORTIFIED MALBEC NV (18.5%), £9, Tesco. Fun and fruity, this sweet Argentinian invention is ace with bitter dark chocolate.
TASTE THE DIFFERENCE SPECIAL RESERVE PORT (20%), £10, Sainsbury’s. A sleek and spicy gem that’s wonderfully bold paired with berry-flavoured chocolates.