Well, approximately 87 miles after starting our trek down the Cotswold Way, we finally arrived in Bath, pulling up to the end of the trail at Bath Abbey. Bath itself is actually a reasonably metropolitan city, and we were already feeling a bit out of place with our sweaty clothes and muddy boots (oh, the mud!), so our first order of business was finding our hotel (a nice little boutique hotel called the Bay Tree), followed by beer and dinner (one might have recommended, well, a Bath, but ironically, our hotel room didn’t have one. A proper Bath would have to wait until the next day’s trip to the Thermae Bath Spa Modern Roman Baths. Luckily, just down the way from our hotel was a fairly new restaurant that looked quite inviting: The Thief.
First of all, The Thief models itself after a classic English coaching Inn, and indeed, it’s as much a boutique hotel as a restaurant, of the “talk to the bartender to get your keys variety”, and as such the bar also serves as a lobby, and we found a pleasantly vibrant dining room with people enjoying light dinners and beers. The menu at The Thief is fairly simple upscale bar fare: chicken wings, a few steaks and roasts, some pasta dishes, and the like.
We ended up settling on trying the “Southern Fried Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Sauce” as a starter. The phrase “Southern Fried” in the UK always makes me wonder a bit. I think they mean it the same way I would, as in “Southern US”, but you never know (hey, pretty much every country has a “South”). But in any case, these were nicely executed chicken wings with a good, lightly spicy breading and a reasonable good blue cheese sauce, so it was a pleasant start to the meal.
Myself, I opted for the onglet. I always love a good onglet, it’s one of those cuts of meat that seems to often get neglected (for one, to be a proper onglet it needs to be butchered in the French style, otherwise, you end up with the similar, but somewhat differently used, hanger steak), but done nicely, it’s a really flavorful cut of meat, and the onglet at The Thief didn’t disappoint: Juicy and tender, with a nice crisp sear, it was just oozing with a nice beef flavor. Add in a nice green salad and a nicely done fondant potato (another one of those French potato methods that I seem to encounter mostly in the UK), and this was a nice light dinner.
Carol did similarly well, opting for a nicely done Wild Mushroom Pappardelle. There’s something subtle about “pasta mechanics” when it comes to pappardelle… I’ve been to many a competent restaurant making their own pasta that can make a pleasant linguini or fettucini somehow fall a bit flat when it comes to pappardelle, but here it was a pleasant pile of nicely al-dente ribbons of pasta served up with a surprisingly robust and woody wild mushroom sauce. Again, a nice way to celebrate the end of several long days of hiking.
I’d rather like to come back and try The Thief again. The staff was quite pleasant, the menu simple but well executed, and, quite frankly, it looked like quite the pleasant hotel as well. I may have to try and book a room here on our next visit to the area.