Salamander, the Hop Pole and now Graze
It may have only been open for little more than a month but Graze is already making its mark on Bath's foodie scene.
The bar, chophouse and soon-to-be opened brewery is the latest addition to the Bath Ales empire, and occupying the whole top floor of the Vaults – Bath's new eating quarter next to the train station – it has a commanding position in the southern part of the city.
Whether it's the Bath Ales brand that's drawing in the punters, or the prime location, something definitely seems to be working. While other establishments may be feeling the pinch as people tighten their purse strings post-Christmas at Graze business is booming.
"It has been going really well so far," said Robin Couling, retail director for Bath Ales. "It is great to see it so full on what could be a quiet January day. We have had a very positive start and a lot of support. It has exceeded expectation."
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While Graze is not a new concept for Bath Ales (there is one in Bristol and another in Cirencester), it is very different from its other Bath venues – the Salamander and the Hop Pole.
"We have two Graze sites already," said Robin, "So this is a progression of that concept.
"We had the opportunity to get this site, which is a real landmark site in Bath, and we thought we would feel sick if we saw one of our competitors here instead of us.
"We really liked the idea of having a food orientated site with a brewery angle. There is nothing else in Bath like the brewery, and we felt that there was space for a modern, British brasserie.
"Graze complements our existing sites. The Salamander is a very cosy, popular pub. We have just invested in a new dining room there but generally the focus there is on the wet trade. It is a proper pub.
"The Hop Pole is more dining orientated and has a beautiful garden. It is very characterful and has its own style and is very well supported.
"Graze is a bit more of an upscale brasserie and bar."
Head chef is Alice Bowyer, who previously headed up the kitchen in the Hop Pole.
She said: "Although this is a different environment to the Hop Pole, and expectation is different, there is the same ethos in all our premises – cooking food that people really want to eat.
"Graze was inspired by a New York steak house – it's really relaxed and not too formal.
"British meat is really central to the menu but we also have fish and vegetarian option.
"Our ingredients are ethically sourced and we also wanted to support British farming. We are passionate about sustainable fishing too and we get all our fish fresh from the Cornish markets.
"The menu will be changing seasonally. At the moment we have a steak and ale suet pudding which I love and is perfect for this time of year."
But the meat really is the king of the menu.
At one end of the restaurant is a glass-fronted meat hanging room which allows you to see the locally sourced meat before it is thrown on to the grill. And it's no ordinary grill. Dominating the kitchen is a Josper grill, a kind of charcoal-fuelled indoor barbecue.
"It gives the food an amazing barbecue flavour," said Alice.
Graze's microbrewery is not yet in action, but work is underway to produce something special, with development taking place off site.
Robin said: "We are trying out different styles at the moment, but whatever we produce will be unique to this site so watch this space."