Best of British: “This is how food was before the advent of the supermarket and mass production,” runs the sales pitch at this tiny deli-cafe. It certainly ticks all the boxes. Ingredients are British, “100% organic” and there’s a real, transparent emphasis on local suppliers. Breads come from Hobbs House in Chipping Sodbury; its Godminster Vintage cheddar from nearby Bruton etc., as you can read on the chalkboards. Crucially, the end products, its gourmet sandwiches and immaculate quiches, taste fantastic. BoB’s proclaimed “best brownie in Bath” is very good. It’s biscuity without, fudgy within and full of bitter, fruity nuggets of a, presumably, high-quality, high-cocoa solids chocolate. DETAILS – 12 Broad Street, +44 (0)1225 448055; bestofbritishdeli.co.uk
Demuth’s vegetarian restaurant: Bath’s vegetarian scene revolves around two distinct poles, the Porter and Demuth’s (2 North Parade Passage, off Abbey Green, +44 (0)1225 446059; demuths.co.uk). Rachel Demuth’s restaurant offers the more sophisticated experience, but with even lunchtime mains – say, an elaborately-pimped plate of lemon and herb aracini – coming in at just under £10, it hovers on the outer reaches of this feature’s remit. It’s only really Demuth’s breakfasts and snacks – perhaps a warm cheese scone or piece of lemon polenta cake (with tea/coffee, £3.95) – that could be described as “affordable”. The Porter is a much earthier experience. About as close as Bath gets to grungy, this iconic vegetarian pub and live music venue has been feeding a boho crowd for years. You can munch on stuff like hummus and garden salad rolls; a mixed bean and lentil chilli; or artichoke and sweet pepper pizza. The only danger is lingering too long. All dark woods, drowsy blues rock and laidback good vibes, it’s the kind of place where you can easily pop-in for a snack and end-up in a long, boozy session.
Jika Jika Cafe: “Coffee should be as black as hell, as strong as death and as sweet as love,” runs the famous Turkish proverb, painted on one wall. My flat white certainly has a complexity of flavour that puts the high street chains to shame. Popular with yummy mummies and young professionals, this long, quirkily decorated “coffee house and canteen” is, perhaps, a touch smarter than that title suggests, but the food – which, from lunch onwards, centres on ciabattas, salads and a selection of interesting stone-baked flat bread ‘pizzas’ – is good value. A breakfast dish of eggs Florentine (£6.50) is well rendered, the perfectly poached eggs perched on sweetish muffins and slathered in a creditable lemony Hollandaise. DETAILS – 4a Princes Buildings, George Street, +44 (0)1225 429903; jikajika.co.uk
The Whole Bagel: Fresh and traditionally baked still-warm bagels filled with good things. What’s not to like? Well, OK, a New York connoisseur might perhaps pooh-pooh the salt beef on the Guardian’s sample bagel, but said meat, like the other components (tomato, red onion, horseradish mayo, on a lightly onion-flavoured bagel), has decent flavour, and it all combines well. For £3.25, it is money well spent. The “pizza” bagels, incidentally, halved and thickly topped with cheese and pepperoni (£1.85), look like the kind of guilty, filthy food that a man could get addicted to. DETAILS – 4 Upper Borough Walls, +44 (0)1225 333259; thewholebagel.co.ukThe Fine Cheese Co
The Fine Cheese Co: It was always unlikely that one of the country’s finest artisan cheesemongers would have a crap cafe, and, so, happily, it proved. On principle, the Guardian is knocking off a point for the pre-packed sandwiches (they actually look pretty good), but, otherwise, the Fine Cheese Co cafe, next door to the shop itself, is a bit of a doozy. Chef Hugh Dennis-Jones’s team turn out incredible savoury tarts and cakes, and superior versions of simple dishes such as potted freshwater crayfish or local asparagus, poached quail’s egg and Peroche goat’s cheese. A bowl of celery, new potato and spring onion soup, served with an excellent rye sourdough bread, is a serious potage, the flavours clear and true. Somewhat surprisingly, given the company’s influential role as a cheese wholesaler, retailer and maturer, the dairy doesn’t dominate. Although, you can graze on a plate (£6.95) of fruits, crackers and three freshly-cut cheeses chosen by owner Ann-Marie Dyas. The place itself is a higgledy-piggledy sequence of rooms – think posh country kitchen – with some suntrap seating on the street outside. DETAILS – 29 & 31 Walcot Street, +44 (0)1225 487993; finecheese.co.uk