Pubs, Clubs and Somerset Grub: URB’s Guide to Food & Drink
It’s that time of year; you’ve got your A-Level results, you’ve confirmed your place at the University of Bath, accommodation is finally sorted and you’re ready to paint the City of Bath red (or purple in URB’s case).
But where do you go? What suits your personal tastes and needs? Where should you go to make your student loan last longer than a week? Well don’t you fear – URB is here for all of your food, drink and night-out needs. Here is a comprehensive break down of some of the best nightclubs, bars and eateries the city has to offer.
Close to Campus
The first place you will have to explore would have to be the campus itself. Boasting 10 eateries on the main Claverton Down campus with menus ranging from Neapolitan style pizzas and Traditional Roast Dinners on a Sunday to authentic Asian street food and brilliant value meals, you’re spoilt for choice on campus. Here are a few of our main picks on campus.
Located below the Parade is a food court popular with all students due to its affordable prices and great tasting food on offer. There’s a bit of everything at the Fountain Canteen, which explains why it’s popular with students at the university. Upon entering the canteen, you will be welcomed by a combination of pungent aromas; don’t be alarmed though – it just shows how much is on offer. Food available in the canteen includes a burrito bar, a Far East Asian station serving authentic stir-fry dishes, a pasta and salad bar providing healthy alternatives, and the infamous £1 corner where every dish comes to the grand total of 100 British pennies. The Fountain Canteen provides a plethora of options for great value, with a seating layout that encourages you to mix and mingle with your fellow students.
Parade Bar and Grill
Overlooking the University’s grand lake and all of the cute little duckies running around freely is the Parade Bar and Grill. This place combines a gourmet dining experience with good old fashioned pub grub, providing students the best of both worlds. With a selection of food varying from Southern style fried chicken and onion rings to luxury specials of the day, the Parade is another establishment providing you with plenty of choice. What makes the Parade even more unique of a venue is its laidback atmosphere – sure, the food is great, but you don’t feel like you’re in a gourmet restaurant. The choice of beers, ciders and wines is another aspect that makes it shine. URB opinion – this would definitely be the place to take Mum and Dad when they re-visit you in October to see if you haven’t gone bankrupt yet.
Ah Lime Tree – oh how you’ve brought me many fond memories since starting University. The Lime Tree is one of those eateries that just has its own gravitational pull – everyone is in the Lime at one point or another. It’s the perfect place to go for a quick coffee, or for a bulk up of pasta before you go to the gym, or for a nice sit down meal midway through a busy day of lectures, or even for a cheeky takeaway pizza. It continues to deliver to your own needs. It might get extremely busy at peak lunchtime, but with over 3000 students at the university – that’s entirely what you would expect. If you’re living in Quads, Brendon Court or Polden Court, then you’ll be excited to find out that your Catering Credit is eligible here as well. Majority of students on Catering Credit use the Lime Tree as their main ‘grub-hub’ as the opening times are convenient for everyone. Got an 8:15 lecture and need a quick fry-up? Then the Lime is the place. Just finished your late-night gym session and need a quick meal to replenish all of those lost calories? Then the Lime is the place. Got a friend coming over for a movie night and you need some snacks? You get the picture – Lime is the place.
The Holy Grail of URB Eateries – well that’s coming from URB members who need a good old breakfast roll to wake them up for URB’s breakfast radio show ‘Morning Glory’ (shameless plug, I know). Situated on Parade in 1East, the Pit Stop is exactly what it says on the tin; a fast food outlet providing you with sandwiches, coffee, breakfasts and other hot food options. Also within the Pit Stop is a pasty stand, offering hot, gorgeous golden brown pastries that Paul Hollywood would proudly give out handshakes for, and a crepe stand offering a wide selection of both sweet and savoury filled crepes that would make Mary Berry quiver in ecstatic joy. Maybe I’m being a bit hyperbolic there, but the Pit Stop is a great place for a quick hot bite to eat. If you’re like me, then you will definitely utilise the extras option for building the Frankenstein’s Monster of all breakfast rolls for a dirt cheap price. URB Tip – get yourself a bacon and egg roll for £2.50, and then whack in extra egg, sausage, hash brown and bacon for less than £5.
The Plug and Tub
Do you get it? The Plug and Tub, because you’re in Bath. I’m not going to lie, took me two and a half years to realise that – a young member of the Sailing team told me that. Anyway, I’m getting side-tracked – the Plug and Tub is the SU’s official bar, providing students with a great place for cheap food, cheap drinks and large spaces to work and play. The Plug and Tub is also home to two of the SU’s main club nights – Score and Klass.
What are 95% of University of Bath students doing on a Wednesday night? The answer – going to Score. The SU’s official sports night allows students to let their hair down after a busy day, with majority of Bath’s athletes choosing the venue as their place to let loose after bleeding blue and gold for their respective BUCS teams. With great deals on drinks and entertaining bangers being played from dusk till dawn, Score is definitely something you have to experience at least once in your lifetime.
URBig Night Out recommendation – get tickets to the Score after Varsity or the Score before Election Night; a major event and something to definitely witness.
Night outs on Saturday are difficult because you have such a wide choice of clubs and pubs to explore. But if you want to remain relatively close to campus, then Klass is the place to be. It’s one of those club nights that you either love or hate; it’s the Marmite of club nights in Bath – if you’re looking for R&B club tunes, a good little giggle with your mates and a cheap drink, then Klass is probably best for you.
URBig Night Out recommendation: don’t be like me and get to Klass too late; get in the queues before 11pm when tickets aren’t guaranteeing you entry.
Exploring the City Centre
With so much to offer on campus, it’s often easy for Freshers to forget about what else is on offer in the main city centre and surrounding areas. You’re spoilt for choice in the city centre, and have much more freedom to find something that appeals to you. Here are a few of our personal recommendations on where to eat all day and party all night.
The first place URB recommend isn’t necessarily a restaurant, but more along the lines of ‘gourmet fast-food stall’. LJ Hugs has an insane reputation amongst Bath locals and students for its hearty Cajun-style barbecue that’s made with love. The menu leaves your mouth watering just by reading it, and the price range has made it an accessible option for everyone. Upon ordering at LJ Hugs, you’ll be taken back by the startling variety of condiments on offer there; it’s not just ketchup, HP sauce and mayo – expect maple sauce, fiery chipotle and avant-garde condiments that’ll make your eyes water (it wouldn’t kill them to put piccalilli on their menu though). All in all, LJ Hugs is a fantastic source for moreish delicious food that will make you go back for seconds. AND, it’s the one place where they do cans of Rio with a meal deal – and I bloody love Rio.
‘Tapas Revolution’ was founded by Spanish celebrity chef Omar Allibhoy, who has been described by former mentor Gordon Ramsay as the ‘Antonio Banderas of Cooking’. The TV celebrity chef has brought gorgeous tapas cuisine to the UK, which has proved popular with students for its social eating experience and great drinks offers. I might be a little bias because I adore tapas, but this is a place you should definitely visit once in a while. With a grandiose selection to cater for vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, and anyone else in between, Tapas Revolution offers a fantastic opportunity to try everything, whilst socializing with your friends and family. URB Top Tip – push the boat a little and order a paella to share as well as individual tapas dishes.
Turtle Bay Kitchen
This is a cocktail lover’s heaven; cheap cocktails, great food and fantastic service are priority at this Caribbean style kitchen, allowing the establishment to stand out amongst others within the city centre. For me, I’d recommend getting there just before the infamous Happy Hour and making use of their discounted Zombie Cocktails. Their seasoned wraps accompanied with homemade mango salsa are another highlight that consistently delivers. What else can I say? Great flavours and chilled vibes all round.
The URB team once had the opportunity to review Absurd Bird and try their delectable take on decadent US Southern style cookery – what a night to remember. The food is flavoursome and filling, leaving you extremely satisfied. It is rather pricey in comparison to other recommended spots in Bath, but it is worth the recommendation just for the quality of food on offer. 95% of people who have ate at Absurd Bird will recommend you to get the Chicken Wings – and we’re no different. With a bottomless wing deal that allows you unlimited chicken wings for an hour and a half, it is truly a carnivore’s paradise. Mind you, the vegetarian and vegan options are also extremely scrumptious and shows that it’s not only meat dishes that draws customers to the Absurd Bird doors.
A wise scholar once said ‘We like to sleep all day and party all night’ – in the wise words of Mr Sean Kingston, you do need to let loose once in a while. The City of Bath has a cracking scene in regards to night life, despite its relatively small size in comparison to neighbouring city Bristol and other places such as Cardiff just over the River Severn. Here’s our personal recommendations if you want to take a break from hitting the books and make a splash.
Situated in the heart of the city, the Cork has built a reputation as a swanky and trendy bar with lots to offer for both locals and students. There always appears to be something different going on at this bar, from themed pub quizzes and classic karaoke sessions to exclusive DJ sets and special retro gaming nights. The Cork is also fantastic for live sport, with a sporting event being aired near enough every day of the week. It’s also a hit spot for those partial to a craft ale/beer as they have been awarded official accreditation from Cask Marque delivering fine ales to the city. If you’re up for something different or just a cold one to watch the game, the Cork is the place for you.
Formerly known as Molloys, The Canon has become a Uni of Bath institute. Spread over two floors with an impressive cider catalogue on offer in the downstairs bar, The Canon has a great social atmosphere and a great selection of drinks on offer. The layout is what stands out for us; with grand communal benches that make you feel like you’re dining in Hogwarts, The Canon is all about mixing and mingling, and having a great time. For the old-skool Latin fanatics out there (bound to be one reading this), you’ll be impressed by the wall décor in the upstairs bar which celebrates the rich Roman history of Bath. Aquae Sulis to you too. What stands out here as well is their selection of local beers and ciders; The Canon champions local breweries and celebrates the local produce available in Somerset. Especially cider. There is so much cider available in the Canon it would make every member of the Wurzels blush with pure glee. If you fancy tasting some authentic Somerset tipples, head down to the Canon.
The Earl / Second Bridge
When I moved to Bath back in 2016, the first place I went on a night-out is Second Bridge. The club was founded in 2007, and is the sister club to the infamous Bridge Nightclub in Oxford. This nightclub is the venue for those looking for a night of luxury and those inclined to listening to R&B. The vibes are good, and the fact it’s all underground gives the club an extra quirk for you to marvel at. However, majority of students will talk about the cocktail bar upstairs called The Earl. With great drink deals and a chilled terrace with shisha pipes galore, there is no wonder why The Earl has become a place for those in need of a relaxed night on the town. You might pump into a celeb every now and again; whether it’s Jamie Laing, Tinchy Stryder or most recently Charlie from Love Island S4, you might be rubbing shoulders with a celeb or two. Just try not to down too many Vodka Cranberry’s in front of them.
Po Na Na
I like to call Po’s ‘The Graceland for Alternative Club Nights’. The infamous niche club is home to many infamous Bath club nights including the WOW nights, and most famously Propaganda. Expect Arctic Monkeys, The Killers and Oasis when you’re here. The other reason Po’s has garnered a cult following at Bath is due to its insane deals on their Loyal app. It used to be their Loyal card, but that got discontinued – that was a sad day watching the bartender cut my card up behind the bar. The Loyal app has brilliant offers on a variety of shots, cocktails and bombs, providing you with the Dutch courage to have a great night out with your mates.
Bath Brew House
Brewery Tours, Pub Grub, Live Sports, Live Music, Pub Quizzes, Beer Garden and Ping Pong. That’s what their website says is on offer – but I usually just focus on their ‘Wheel of Fortune’. Pay the friendly bar staff a small fee, and you have the opportunity to win big with prizes on offer such as a free bar tab, bottles of wine, pork scratchings or their luxury beers brewed on site. Or go home kicking yourself. The Brew House is a great establishment that turns the idea of traditional pub on its head. If you’re looking for an eclectic but casual night out, get the U1 to the Brew House.
No guide to Bath isn’t complete without Moles; I genuinely do not know how people coped without this quaint little venue when it was being refurbished in late 2015. Moles is the home of some great independent live music, with a number of high profile bands performing in the venue during their initial rise to stardom. The Smiths, Manic Street Preachers, Bastille, Madness. There just a few I could remember from their amazing mural in the venue that celebrates all the artists who have performed there. However, it isn’t just a place for indie music lovers – if you’re a fan of cheesy 90s bangers, then may I present to you The Big Cheese. On Tuesdays, Moles is home to one of Bath’s most vibrant club-nights with nostalgic tunes from start to finish. It’s a great way to let your hair down and show the rest of Bath how the Macarena is actually done.
Now... GO AND EXPLORE!
So there we have it! Have an explore of the city and enjoy some of the great grub and good times on offer. Make sure you try to explore other places however; there is so much offer in Bath that we haven’t even covered, so definitely go and have a proper adventure with your flat-mates, significant other or your family.
This article was first published 20.08.19. Written by Program Controller and general URB-fanatic Mitch Thorngate.