When word went out a few months ago that Bath was to get another café I cynically thought ‘good luck with that then’, in light of the city’s already well populated coffee scene. Surely, I thought, Bath has enough places where you can grab a flat white and we must have reached peak caffeine by now?
How wrong could I be. I popped in to the new Boston Tea Party on Alfred Street a week after it opened. It was buzzing with people.
I went back again a few days later. Still bustling. And every time I’ve gone since, whether it’s been for a work meeting or for lunch, it’s been busy every time.
If you’ve been in Bath a long time you’ll recall Old Orleans the burger’n’ribs place that used to occupy this building. It was a dark, wood panelled barn of a place as I recall. The newly refurbished building is filled with natural light. It’s spacious and stylish. There are booths for quiet, serious talk, sofas for lounging and chatting, tables for two and four and even a long shared table down the middle, where solo diners can grab a place without feeling uneasy.
Last week Missy B and I called in for an early lunch. The laptop brigade were just wrapping up their earnest briefings and the mummies with their little dears were just settling themselves at tables and into high chairs. The little dears were soon busy colouring in on specially designed children’s menus, with crayons provided. There was even a brace of beautiful dogs posing in the window. No, that wasn’t us. We were at the other table in the window. A great people-watching place.
The menus are simple but beautifully done, giving off a cool New York vibe. You want one of BTP’s legendary west country breakfasts? Then have one. There’s no Fawlty Towers reticence about giving the customer what she wants when she wants it. You want bacon, sausage, scrambled egg, tomatoes, baked beans and toast at 3pm? You got it.
You can bring your veggie chums, your vegan pals and your gluten intolerant friends. There’s clear labelling on everything – which gets a big tick from us.
The other thing we like about BTP, is that despite being technically a chain, it retains the air of an independently run cafe. The staff are mostly young and stylish and very friendly too. Our waitress recommended the raspberry and chocolate flapjack, as she had baked this batch herself and was particularly pleased with them. Everything is made on the premises and clearly, the joy of creativity is in the finished dishes.
BTP prides itself on offering up locally sourced good quality produce, with 80 per cent of its suppliers being based in the south west. Vegetables are grown in the Chew Valley by A David & Co, free range meat is from Devon Rose Farm and the organic milk comes from Yeo Valley cows, while award-winning family business Hobbs House bakery supplies the bread.
So what do we recommend? I’ve tried the eggs Benedict and the toasted sandwich delightfully named the Get your Goat, You’ve Pulled! containing a winning combo of goats cheese, thyme and onion marmalade. I would also recommend the teriyaki salmon, which feels incredibly healthy, with its mix of brown rice studded with red pepper, pak choi, spring onion and coriander.
My table companion chowed down, as she would say, on a veggie burger. Essentially a sweetcorn fritter with feta, avocado and a hint of chilli, she pronounced it deliciously light yet filling. There was some creamy fresh coleslaw which she devoured appreciatively and a huge mound of skinny fries we’d have needed a teenage appetite to polish off.
The prices are not extortionate for freshly prepared dishes. An energy boosting super salad of avocado, mango, radish, sprouting seeds, sugar snap peas, leaves carrots, nuts and seeds is £7.50, the toasted goats cheese sandwich is £4.95 and the veggie burger is £8.50.
It is one of those places where you have to remember your table number when you’re ordering at the main counter. I’m sure they’ve laid it out like this so as to seduce you into one of the cakes, scones and flapjacks which beckon seductively as you place your order.
We can’t leave without answering the unasked question: what’s the coffee like? It’s really good. It’s hand roasted in Bristol by Extract Coffee Roasters and I thoroughly recommend it. The healthy smoothies (£3.25) are pretty good too.
If you’re running the Bath Half on Sunday 13 March and can manage to hobble up the slope to Alfred Street, this would be a good place to book a table to re-charge your batteries.
Boston Tea Party
8 Alfred Street,
Bath BA1 2QU
Tel: 01225 425318