A 12-minute train ride from Bath or 15 minutes in the car, Bradford-on-Avon is the perfect base for a relaxing break, with a good selection of food and drink establishments. Here, Caroline Mackay from Woolley Grange Hotel, on the edge of the town, introduces us to her five favourite foodie places to discover…
1. The Bunch of Grapes, Silver Street
Expect a rustic country restaurant combined with a traditional Parisian bar at The Bunch of Grapes, where perfect flavour combinations are expertly presented. Their homemade pea soup tastes freshly picked, and the lavender panna cotta is mouthwatering! Tony Casey, Head Chef and proprietor, does our town proud with his passion and dedication, and, afterwards, for more examples of businesses showcasing the community’s independent spirit, take time to browse some of the beautiful little local shops. Find unique gifts in Strawberry Blue, or, equally exciting as a giftshop for some, pop into the enduring and reliable Browns Hardware Shop.
2. Gilou’s Café, The Shambles
Praised by The Independent Coffee Guide for his “speciality coffee served with a soupçon of French flair”, Gilou came to Bradford-on-Avon three years ago and has been embraced by our coffee-loving community. He serves a fine brew! The café makes for the perfect coffee stop in The Shambles to fortify you before zigzagging steeply up to the Tory, a terrace of quaint cottages, and the medieval chapel of St. Mary. You’ll then be rewarded with beautiful views across the town and beyond.
3. The Cheese Shop, Market Street
Continuing the French theme, The Cheese Shop is run by Christophe Bonneau. Here you’ll find a good selection of local cheeses including The Bath Soft Cheese Company’s Bath Blue and Wyfe of Bath, plus the Baronet (made from Jersey cow milk at the local Neston Farm Park) and the bestselling Vintage Cheddar from nearby Cheddar Gorge. Perfect for picnics down at Barton Farm Country Park between the river and canal – a mere ten-minute walk from the shop – don’t forget to visit the Tithe Barn whilst you’re there too, one of the oldest, largest and most beautiful in the country.
4. Ravello, St Margaret’s Street
The Italian connection is not underrepresented in Bradford-on-Avon, with a least three Italian restaurants. My favourite is Ravello for perfect pizza and pasta, served in a picturesque seventeenth-century building. Be tempted by their range of fresh pizzas or take your pick from lasagnes and risottos. There is a small garden for warm summer evenings, and the rambling building is surprisingly large inside. On a Thursday morning, enjoy a pre-lunch browse in the small but perfectly formed market just outside the restaurant or pop up to the town museum above the library.
5. Woolley Grange Hotel, Woolley Green
The kitchen of this Jacobean manor house hotel is headed up by Jethro Lawrence, a BBC Masterchef: The Professionals quarter finalist, and talented chef. Check out the small plates (with big flavours) for a perfect alfresco lunch on the terrace, Afternoon Tea for a relaxed family affair (the menu includes a children’s tea), or the evening Candlelight Menu for fine dining at its best. Much of the produce originates from the Walled Garden, perfect for an after-lunch stroll to see the fresh fruit and veg, the ducks, chickens, pigs and rabbits, plus the chance to buy some fresh produce from the Potting Shed Shop.
The award-winning Woolley Grange Hotel is situated on the north-eastern edge of Bradford-on-Avon, and is surrounded by 14 acres of stunning grounds. The perfect place to enjoy a family-friendly break, they offer fantastic children's facilities and activities, a spa and a two AA Rosette restaurant. Accommodation ranges from quirky bedrooms tucked in the eaves, to spacious and contemporary suites.