Bath: Why You Must Visit Barton St Wine Café
There’s a whole wealth of wine to be enjoyed in the Bath area. From the awesome Tasting Rooms on Green Street to the spirit heaven that is Independent Spirit on Bog Island – not to mention the multi-regional award winning retailer Great Western Wine – Bath is amass with top quality wine destinations.
But there simply isn’t anything quite as bliss as Barton St Wine Café. This small enoteca (café, restaurant and shop in one) was inspired by owner Geoffrey Edgar and his time in Italy. Its mission is to bring together all the best things about wine – a hand-selected, tried & tested (mostly) wine selection, and quality food – to the heart of Bath.
There’s no lying about the size of the place – it is small. Yet when you get inside the atmosphere is relaxing. Customer service is speedy, pleasant, and the staff are (professional and) young so they’re eager to impress. Music plays as you select your choices from the menu of food, or by-the-glass vs by-the-bottle wines; it’s loud enough to prevent you twiddling your thumbs in those awkward spaces between conversation on a first date but quiet enough that you can have a decent conversation and not be bellowing, which is always nice.
Geoff joined me and served up a range of his bruschettas. As some of you may know I have sort of committed career suicide a bit by not liking cheese, and, interestingly, all of Barton St’s bruschettas have cheese on them. All the same, I needed to give them a go and loved the other ingredients he was talking about like Muschio mushrooms, grilled peppers, and fresh veggies. I concede – I did ask for less cheese than is normally served.
The picture above hardly does the food justice. While Geoff did admit he had a little over-grilled them, they were delicious. In fact I would have quite happily scoffed them down in a couple of minutes in private company. I’m glad I didn’t though because I enjoyed the experience of eating cheese for the first time. Considering some of the cheeses he served me were smoked mozzerella and blue cheese I’ve got to admit I’m stunned I liked it.
Perhaps it was the quality of the food or the brilliance of the wine selections. At £7.00 each for the bruschettas I certainly would go and try the whole range. But it’s the wine where Barton St Wine Café comes into its own. The wine menu, which looks a bit quirky, is full of very reasonably priced wines. By the glass you’re looking at around £5-£7, and by the bottle around £19-£26. Considering the quality, that’s bloody good.
While I waited for the bruschettas I enjoyed a really nice rosé Pinot Grigio. I had gone off Pinot Grigio a bit after finding the vast majority of it quite tasteless, but this was a lovely-coloured Provence-like rosé with aromas of light jam and tropical fruit. Pear and apricot made up most of the mouth feel. It was delicate and refreshing. Ideal as a wine before a meal. Alongside those were some nibbles from Puglia, Italy, of baked flour and olive oil. If anything were to whet your appetite it was these little things. Barton St also serves black pepper and chilli varieties, as well as nuts.
When it came to the bruschettas, the aubergine and parmesan bruschetta went very well with a Fleurie. This higher-end Beaujolais was as you’d expect: fruit-forward, youthful and jammy – but the good kind of jammy, you know? An excellent choice against the parmesan.
My favourite of the bruschettas was the grilled peppers and gorgonzola, by far. Oily, fruity and very well cooked it paired brilliantly with one of the most stunning Riojas I have ever tried: Paternina Rioja Crianza 2011 Banda Azul. It’s a rich, beefy Rioja with tobacco and farmyard notes but huge amounts of ripe fruit. To show that level of character so early promises that this Rioja will be a great wine to buy and cellar.
To top it all off, care seems to be in every detail. Each wine was served in an appropriate glass and temperate to maximise enjoyment. Advice is readily available – the wine list itself has very accessible, bullshit-free tasting notes – but everything is relaxed so the choice is ultimately yours to make.
A real hidden secret, and I would thoroughly recommend a visit.
After all, it’s not been open long and is already ranked in the top 20 places to eat in Bath. Pretty impressive, eh?
Barton Street Wine Bar Café Opening times –
Monday – Sunday, 12-10.30pm
Barton Street Wine Café is located just north of Kingsmead Square, south of Queen’s Square and east of Milsom Street.