That said, when I asked twitter for a list of restaurant suggestions a few weeks ago I realised that it's one of the few "good" vegetarian places I've not been to yet. We were planning to drive down the M5 on Easter Saturday (for a few days in Dorset) anyway, so a detour via Bath made for a welcome break to the journey (as opposed to Welcome Break, which is quite the opposite for vegans!).
Given that we were still in bed in Warwickshire at 10am, it's a miracle we made it there at all. What was meant to be getting on the road at 10.30 somehow warped into 11.30. We weren't the only people who thought of going to Bath that day either: once we hit the outskirts we sat in a 20 minute queue. Parking was a bit of a challenge too, the best onstreet I could find was 2 hours.
We eventually found Demuths at 2pm, fully expecting there to be no tables free. As they don't allow you to book for Saturday lunchtimes and it was over Easter we didn't fancy our chances at all.
First impressions? It's really small. Quite a lot smaller than I imagined, with only about 10 tables in total. It was also half empty!
The weather on Saturday was unseasonably warm and sunny. I've not been to Bath before and the experience was reminiscent of the French summer holidays I had in the 80s. The restaurant too had similar proportions to ones I've visited in France, with small rooms, high ceilings, wood panelling and large sash windows. We negotiated a table by an open window and with a small breeze and bottle of chilled water; bliss was achieved for a few moments at least.
The lunchtime menu seems to consist mainly of the evening menu's starters, re-branded as "light bites". Luckily the majority of these were vegan, compared to the main courses where the only choice was a curry. Given that it was the hottest day of the year so far (that I've not been stuck in work anyway), this really didn't appeal.
We ordered 3 "light bites" and 2 sides, which seemed to be a reasonable amount of food for 2 people:
Roast Red Pepper Bruschetta (vg) £6.95Service was friendly and waiting time reasonable. As usual we ordered things we both liked the looks of and shared them out between us:
roasted red pepper & creamy cannellini beans with toasted sourdough bread.
Coconut & Lentil Kebba (vg/gf) £6.95
with date puree, coriander & salad.
Purple Sprouting Tempura (vg) £6.75
with rhubarb ketchup & tamari reduction.
Balsamic Red Onion Bread (vg) £3.95
with garlic & herb oil.
Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary & Garlic (vg/gf) £2.95
Being the brocolli hater I am, it was with extreme pleasure to find they'd run out and had substituted it with asparagus instead:
Where as the asparagus tempura from Terre a Terre (review and photo here) was exceptional, this attempt was more in the OK bracket. The batter was heavier than usual and asparagus not yet in season. I'm not sure what the rhubarb ketchup bought to the dish, but it looked pretty overall.
We both agreed that the Kebba was by far the best thing we experienced there. We weren't entirely sure what it was when we ordered it and the best description I can really give is large bhaji meets curry kiev. We ate it far too quickly to take a photo, but the inside was potato based with coconut curry in the centre. I'd certainly order this again and will probably have a go at making it sometime soon.
I wasn't really looking forward to the bruschetta. It didn't look overly appetizing either (I shalln't say what it reminded me of):
It was pleasantly nice however. The beans were really creamy and overall taste good.
The red onion bread appeared to be flatbread with caramelised onions on top. It tasted pretty good. Not outstanding, and there wasn't enough of it (maybe I'm just greedy though? :)
The big bowl of roast potatoes were just that: a big bowl of roast potatoes.
I'd have paid a pound more for them to be crispier and have sea salt, rosemary and cloves of roasted garlic included, to make them a bit more interesting. I think they may have missed a trick here.
In the name of research, we ordered the 2 vegan desserts they currently offer:
Cashew Cream & Coconut Praline (vg/gf/n) £6.75It's really difficult to gauge this one, as it's quite unlike anything I've had before. I was expecting panna cotta, but it was more like coconut ice. It was pleasant but odd - we ate it all but I'm not sure I'd order it again.
with toffee almonds & berry compote.
Rich Chocolate Mousse (vg/n) £6.75
on a chocolate sponge with a bitter orange sauce & a coriander & pink peppercorn tuille.
I normally groan when I see vegan option of mousse on restaurant menus, but this one was a lot more decent than a pot of tofu tasting cocoa sludge.
The layer of sponge and puree on the side complimented it well and it was overall a good dessert. Whilst the tuille had novelty appeal, I'm not sure it added anything beyond aesthetics.
I've read several reviews that complain the food's overpriced. Our bill was 50% higher than we normally pay for a similarly sized meal at other vegetarian places.
Was it 50% better? Probably yea. It wasn't outstanding like Saf or Terre a Terre, but it's pretty decent food and the overall experience was an enjoyable one. I can see how they came up with their pricing and I think it's reasonable for what you get.
If they increase their choice of vegan options and/or change their menu then I certainly expect that we'll return.
I noticed on Google that there are 2 for 1 vouchers available on mains, so if they have more than 1 vegan main in the future then it'll be pretty good value.