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Published July 12th 2017
The Beautiful, Relaxing Bathwick Boatman Restaurant
Just around the bend from the Holborne Museum, there is a magnificent restaurant. Tucked away and nestled lovingly above a stretch of the river Avon is The Bathwick Boatman, and it is truly wonderful. Serving a delicious menu of rustic and hearty food, it exudes relaxation and peacefulness. Diners sit beneath elegant, vintage rowing craft in a lovingly maintained, airy boathouse or along a gorgeous flower-adorned terrace that looks out onto the river below. A warm welcome awaits, along with 'lovely lunches and delicious dinners' served by owners Rosy and Ben and their dedicated team. In over a decade of eating out in Bath, I have never been made to feel so at ease and welcome than by these lovely people.
The Boatman is a very special place to visit, and I always feel privileged to go there. It has stayed true to its roots and sits proudly above the Bathwick Boat Company, which hires out gorgeous hand built rowing boats and punts to visitors. As one of the few remaining boathouses between Bath and Bristol, it is even possible to catch a riverboat from Bath's famous Pulteney Bridge and disembark directly beneath the restaurant itself. The gentle slap of oars on water or thrumming outboard motors acts as a soothing soundtrack to enjoying a meal upstairs. With its lovingly polished wooden interior and window-filled space, the restaurant itself almost feels like a riverboat itself, and one that could float gently downstream with other craft.
The food is incredible and extremely reasonably priced. The menu offers a wide variety of flavours from around the globe, but there is a distinct love of hearty, honest Italian cooking here, inspired by Ben and Rosy's years spent in Italy. On my last visit, I enjoyed the three course Evening Menu and picked two fish dishes, perhaps drawn to the river. Watching the evening sunlight sparkle on the water I had Crispy Calamari with Boatman Tartare Sauce; a delicately battered dish full of flavour. Served with granary bread, it was fresh and invigorating.
As the fairy lights twinkled on the balcony outside, I then picked a delicious Tandoori marinated salmon with Bombay potatoes, onion bhaji, chicken wing, grilled lettuce & yoghurt. It had a velvety and smoky spiciness to it and a wonderful variety of flavours. I could have eaten it twice over.
As darkness fell I chose a Warm spiced banana pudding with toffee sauce & banana chocolate ice cream, which was exceptionally tasty. A double espresso brought to a close the best meal that I have ever eaten in Bath.
It is a joy to eat at the Boatman, and going there on a quiet evening made the experience even more calm and relaxing. I think the people who frequent somewhere can tell visitors a great deal about a place, and I ended up chatting to the waiting staff and two diners at the cosy bar in the middle of the restaurant. All shared their love for, and knowledge of the boathouse, and gave me the feeling that it has a strong community surrounding it. They all told me how the whole ethos of restaurant and boat company is to preserve its traditions and heritage, and one look at the lovely black and white timbered buildings outside told me just that. It is a uniquely special venue.