I always enjoy visiting Bath. I’m a bit of a country bumpkin, so the pint-sized city is the perfect amount of urban for me. You can still see green hills within the city and the bath-stone Georgian architecture gives it a uniquely classical feel that I’ve not experienced outside of Italy (but with fewer mopeds – another highlight).
Bath also has a special place in my heart as it’s one of the places Tess took me to for a surprise weekend before we were married (yes, there was more than one surprise weekend. What can I say – I’m a lucky man). While there we made fudge, luxuriated in the Thermospa and ate a lot of very nice food. Even back then she knew me very well.
A few weeks ago we visited Bath again for the first time since that fudge and massage-filled excursion. This time we had a toddler along for the ride, so I was doubtful that we’d eat as well this time around (and the spa was definitely out – sorry muscles).
Shortly after arriving, our friends whisked us away into the city centre and down some rather pleasant back alleys, through the constant February drizzle and at the awkwardly slow pace set by a two-year-old with a fascination for puddles (Thanks for that Peppa Pig). Our destination was Bandook – a rather new, and highly praised by our friends, Indian restaurant with a street food spin.
The inside had a distinctly European cafe vibe – A flavour of India’s colonial past. Green leather booth seating with marble tables and a clear view of the kitchen gave a distinctly informal feel. The booth was also useful as a way of ensuring our daughter didn’t escape mid-meal.
The menu passed the initial test of making my FOMO-ridden mind convulse with indecision. You know you’re in for a treat when everything on the menu calls out to you at once, and before trying any of the food I had a feeling I’d be coming back in the not too distant future to order the dishes that didn’t make the cut on the day. Luckily, Bandook’s menu is split into small and large plates, encouraging sharing and filling the table up with many different things to try, so I didn’t have to compromise too much.
The menu also began with a short disclaimer advising that for every meal purchased at Bandook, an Indian Child will get a nutritious meal provided by the Akshaya Patra Foundation. Who could complain about that?
While my mind struggle to whittle down the choices, we ordered a round of Chai Masala and were reassuringly told that it would take a little while to prepare. The wait was worth it, delivering a milky, sweet and cardamom scented glass that instantly transported us to somewhere far more exotic than a rainy February afternoon in England. Another round followed shortly after.
Eventually, I decided on the Grandma’s Chicken Curry – Bandook’s signature dish (it seemed like a logical place to start). We also ordered a number of small dishes for the table, and for our daughter – a famed fussy eater, we opted for the Kori Kempu, spiced chicken strips (minus the green chilli) and a portion of Gunpowder Chips (Bandook apparently means rifle). Tess went for the Keema Pav, curried, minced lamb in petite buns.
The Grandma’s Chicken lived up the the expectations set by being referred to as a ‘signature dish’. The dark chicken meat was tender and delicious, and the sauce was probably my first taste of what I would consider Indian comfort food. Subtly spiced and with the deep flavour of cardamom and cloves. Exactly what I needed as the rain battered the windows outside.
Another dish worthy of an honourable mention is the Beetroot Galouti – Spiced beetroot patties that were soft and satisfying. I’ll definitely try making some of these myself when the Beetroot season comes into force – watch this space.
I could harp on about each dish as everything on the table without exception was delicious (yes – I tried the lot), but think that I’ve made the point well enough already that I’m a big fan of Bandook. Whether Indian cuisine is normally your bag or not, I believe that there’s something on Bandook’s menu for everyone. Even our daughter ate ‘some’ of her lunch – high praise as far as her fickle appetite’s concerned.
However, I will leave you with a picture of my dessert, as not only was it the nicest kulfi I’ve ever eaten (Indian ice cream for the uninitiated), it was also the poshest Mini Milk I’ve ever seen.