Flute Interview with founder Roger Payne and chef Angelo Errigo

At the forefront of the vibrant Bartlett Street food scene in Bath, is Flute Seafood Restaurant & Bar – where fresh flavours of the sea meet laid-back coastal vibes. It’s a place to celebrate top-notch seafood without the fuss. Famous for its catch being from boat to plate in under 5 hours, we recently had the chance to dive into Flute’s ethos in a chat with its founder, Roger Payne, and the contemporary new chef behind its dishes and the summer menu, Angelo Errigo.

Q: For those who haven’t experienced Flute yet, what’s the vibe?

Roger: Flute is all about celebrating the freshest fish and seafood dishes, cocktails that pack a punch and of course loads of bubbles and champagne, wrapped up in a great dining experience. Our chefs have the creative freedom to craft dishes based on what’s fresh that day as we get daily deliveries from our friendly fish suppliers in Devon and Cornwall. Of course, we’ve got amazing Oysters, bubbles and great mussels every day , but we love to mix things up, keeping it exciting for our guests.

Q: Angelo, you’re the new chef at Flute. What’s your story and what drew you to this spot in Bath?

Angelo: My kitchen journey kicked off at Gravetye Manor in East Grinstead—a fancy 1 Michelin star place. It was like stepping into a whole new world of chef life. I did my time there, soaking up all the ins and outs of high-level cooking during my apprenticeship. They really drilled into us the importance of every single ingredient. It wasn’t just about what was on the plate; it was a whole mindset about food.

Back when I was slinging champagne and shucking oysters in Brighton, I knew I had some unfinished business with seafood. So, when the opportunity to join Flute came knocking, I couldn’t say no.

Q: Angelo, what’s cooking on the menu? What’s the plan as we head into summer and beyond?

A: The goal for our menu is to showcase our ingredients in the best possible way. We’re talking about simple, delicious dishes that let the quality of the seafood shine through. As we move into summer, we’re excited about fresh, seasonal ingredients like lobsters, mussels, and clams from nearby waters. It’s all about letting the food speak for itself.

Q: And speaking of ingredients, how do you source your seafood, and does that influence your menu decisions?

A: Sustainability is key for us. We work closely with suppliers who share our values, ensuring our seafood is sourced responsibly. Whether it’s line-caught tuna or fresh mackerel, we want to know where our ingredients come from – the team at Wings of St Mawes are offloading the catch on the dockside at 6am and it’s with us by 11am. From ocean to plate in 5 hours – it’s that fresh.

R: Let me paint you a picture of what Angelo was just talking about – our legendary Fish and Chips. Now, we all know you can find fish and chips just about anywhere, right? You can either settle for something slapped together in a frozen food truck, or you can treat yourself to something truly spectacular.

Angelo’s whipping up some mouth-watering Ling. Now, this fish is a real gem, sourced from the depths of the Atlantic, a bit farther out towards America. It’s tender, it’s flavourful, and let me tell you, it’s not your average cod. Angelo works his magic with a gluten-free batter made from tapioca and rice flour, so not only is it delicious, but it’s also sustainable too!

As a side, we’ve got an amazing pea puree and some chunky chips to round out the meal.

Q: Angelo, any standout dishes you’re particularly proud of in the summer menu?

A: Definitely! Our Tuna Steak with chimichurri is a must-try. Simple yet bursting with flavour. And our Ceviche, perfect for a summer day. Plus, our Seafood Platters showcasing the best of what we offer.

You’ve got langoustines, clams that are super fresh, mussels that practically melt in your mouth, king prawns that are seriously huge, and to top it all off, some fantastic southwest oysters.

Roger had this genius idea of making a smaller version of the platter – The Mini-Mer. We figured, not everyone might be up for tackling the full spread, right? So, voila! Now, whether you’re flying solo, or you’ve got your full crew, there’s a seafood option for everyone.

Q: Roger, what are your hero dishes on the menu?

R: Prawns are a hit, especially on warmer days. Our hake with broth is a winter favourite, soon to be revamped for summer. And our brunch menu, curated by Angelo, is something special. Crab Frumpett, King Prawn Breakfast Taco—there’s something for everyone.

Q: Angelo, I hear you’re working on a sandwich menu?

A: Absolutely! We’re excited to roll out our sandwich board, featuring a killer Lobster Roll with confit garlic mayo. It’s a dish I’ve been eager to bring to Flute!

R: The sandwich board is a perfect lunchtime option, offering something lighter yet still satisfying. And that Lobster Roll—it’s going to be a game-changer.

Q: Roger, when it comes to your vision for Flute, you’ve been clear about not aiming for fine dining. Why was accessibility important for you?

R: You know, at Flute, we’re all about serving up top-notch food without all the fancy frills of fine dining. Don’t get me wrong, we’re obsessed with making sure every dish looks and tastes amazing, and we love seeing those ‘wow’ moments when our guests leave feeling blown away.

But what sets us apart is our focus on keeping things accessible. Take our Carlingford Oysters, for example – they’re the cream of the crop, but we don’t break the bank with them. Sure, they’re a bit pricier to us, but they’re worth every penny. And you won’t find any stuffy vibes here; we’re all about that laid-back coastal feel. Think tiled walls, relaxed driftwood tables – it’s all about letting the freshness of our ingredients and taste and simplicity of our dishes shine through.

Q: Beyond food, what else does Flute offer?

Roger: So, here’s the deal with Flute – we’re not just your average eatery. While delicious food is our bread and butter, we like to keep things interesting, so we’ve got an awesome selection of cocktails that’ll knock your socks off such as our brand-new Oyster Martini or the Champagne Old Fashioned! We’ve even scored a late-night license, so the fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down!

Our bar is often buzzing with folks popping in for a glass of wine, a glass of fizz or cocktail– we’re becoming quite the hot spot for grown-up drinks!

We also have a backroom lounge bar called The Octopus. It’s our little hidden gem, giving us some extra seating for when things get busy. Plus, it’s perfect for throwing private parties!

We’ve had a lot of interest in our private dining events, with clients asking for custom menus for their gatherings of 20 or 30 guests. You can relax and take your time – there’s no rush to finish your meal and head out. We know that after a big celebration, you want to hang out with your pals and soak up the good times – that’s why we’re open until 2 a.m!

Q: Finally, Roger, how has Bath received Flute, and what’s your aim for engaging with the community?

R: Overall, the response has been positive, though like any business, we’ve had our challenges. We aim to be an integral part of the community, offering not just great food but a welcoming space for everyone. It’s about building relationships and serving our guests to the best of our ability.

As I said my goodbyes to Roger and Angelo, I left feeling inspired by their shared love for culinary mastery and their commitment to crafting a welcoming environment where everyone can appreciate the pure delight of fresh, flavourful food.

In a time when culinary trends are ever-evolving and food exploration is at its peak, Flute shines as a symbol of authenticity—a haven where each meal isn’t just about indulging the senses but revelling in life’s little joys.

Flute, Seafood Restaurant & Bar.
9 Edgar Buildings, George Street, Bath BA1 2EE