2 John Street, Bath BA1 2JL. Tel: 01225 482070, visit: firehouserotisserie.co.uk
Spicy Indian dish (five letters), boat race meeting (seven letters), small island (five letters), universe (six letters), estimates (seven letters). I love a good crossword, but I was probably never going to find the answers to these particular clues because the paper puzzle had taken on a second life as a food display mat. And there was a glistening chuck steak burger bursting with ingredients settled in the middle obscuring the majority of the down clues, and, indeed, the crossword grid.
My steak burger (with aged cheddar, tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles and French fries), you see, was placed on a neatly cut-out crossword on a wooden platter. It sounds eccentric, but it was quirky and original, the burger and its accompaniments basking in the warm orange light of the interior, looking glorious, and waiting to be eaten.
I was sitting in the Firehouse Rotisserie in John Street and the main meal had just arrived. I was reluctant to destroy the crossword artistry, to be honest, so I didn’t rush to dismantle the platter. Fortunately my blood sugar was stable as I’d already had a ‘small plate’ of Chinese chicken salad with ginger wasabi dressing, toasted cashews with a wonton on top.
I’d been nervous about having a small dish because I knew the main would be a substantial one, and I like to think of myself as a light eater. Anyway, the chicken salad had been an absolute dream – as things often are when you hesitate over them – with the combination of soft chicken slices, the pliant grain of the toasted cashews and the oh-so-divine deep red wasabi dressing. The wonton hovered on the surface, drizzed with wasabi, to give an extra crunch.
So, I was admiring the crossword platter with chuck burger. I eventually broke the puzzle charm by lifting a single French fry from the said crossword and daubing it in a red sauce beginning with ‘k’. That was it. More duly followed. Along with some pickles, and onion, and tomato, and rocket. The burger was naturally too big to eat gracefully (as is the way with burgers), and the serving wasn’t small, but the crossword and the platter beneath were there to pick up the escaping ingredients.
It was very tasty and extremely satisfying – onion, pickles and all – and I ate so much of it that if I’d had a fine-liner Sharpie I could probably have filled out a few of the crossword clues.
My companion Jessica hadn’t got a puzzle and she didn’t appear to be upset or jealous. This was possibly because, to start, she had enjoyed crisp halloumi fries with a salsa picante dip. The deliciously salty strips of halloumi had a delicate smokiness, and the dip subtle underflavours of coriander. This was scattered with (miniature) pickled chilli pearl peppers, adding a little kick of spice. Her main course was the classic herb and lemon rotisserie chicken with applewood smoked bacon and Dijon tarragon aioli, the robust flavours balanced with a tomato and red onion salad.
The general menu offers a selection of small plates – including creamy mozzarella, vine tomatoes, fresh basil and mammoth olives and warm ciabatta. Three styles of rotisserie chicken include Texas spiced and Cuban spiced as well as the classic herb and lemon. The burger and grills section, which has the serious meat content, also features a vegetarian option, a grilled halloumi salad with asparagus, green beans, blushed tomatoes, fresh herbs and crunchy chickpeas. There are five choices of pizza and side dishes ranging from sweet potato fries to fine green beans with toasted almonds.
You’ll also discover an extensive wine list and a compact choice of desserts. I didn’t have to think too hard before ordering an affogato, vanilla ice cream drowned in espresso. This is currently my dessert of choice – nothing to do with being a caffeine fiend, it’s just that the espresso takes away the frost chill of the ice cream divinely.
We were also treated to a warm and attentive waiter service, with advice on wine and the prompt identification of ingredients. How would I describe my meal at Firehouse Rotisserie? Here’s a clue: delicious, tasty, mouthwatering, agreeable. Seven letters; first letter ‘s’, last letter ‘y’.
Crisp halloumi fries with salsa picante dip £6.50; Chinese chicken salad £7.50; rotisserie chicken £13; chuck steak burger £13; affogato vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso £4.50.