Back in our suite at Bailbrook Manor, I was in my usual deep depression after gawping through the estate agent’s window. “Fuck, I’ll never afford a house like those ones. Why didn’t I buy in Bath or London twenty years ago?”
“Because you lived in St. Helens and wanted to be near your mum?”
Sarah has a cruel tongue sometimes. So onto trip advisor to find a place to eat dinner. I don’t trust a lot of the reviews on that app, what is to stop an owner getting his mates to post loads of blag comments just to get to the top of the pile?
It does provide some laughs though, especially when a restaurant fights back and goes online to tell the punter that he is a pleb who wouldn’t understand fine dining if it smacked him in the face. I hate consumer power. Dull eyed stroppy middle Englanders demanding excellence on the cheap. If I was a restaurateur I’d tell them all where to go. There’s your omelette and chips. If it’s five star service you’re after do me a favour and fuck off to Claridges. What do you want for six pounds fifty anyway ?
We settled on Gascoynes Place.
The reviews didn’t look like they’d been churned out by a Chinese Spam factory (like the feedback you see on eBay about Beijing Wedding frocks) and it didn’t seem too pricey so we booked for 8pm.
A stripped down, informal interior design. Green tiles, dark wooden floors leading to a cosy bar area offering a varied selection of beers. Strangely for Bath, all the staff were English and local. The barman pulled off a gill of the local tipple for me to sample, a nice friendly touch.
As someone happy to eavesdrop on the private conversations of strangers, my ear was drawn to the two guys swapping banter on the bar stools opposite.
One of them, a thirty something Londoner, was attempting to perform a card trick whilst simultaneously injecting into his patter tiresome boasts about how much he made a year (£250,000 apparently. Interested to hear more? No, thought not).
The other guy had shoulder length curls and the look of someone who was forcing himself to listen, as though some weird social convention obliged him to pay attention until the dreary soliloquy ran into the sand – a bit like a Minor Royal opening a hospital wing.
I whispered to Sarah,”See the guy with the Robert Plant hair? Bet he’s the owner.”
And so it came to pass that Marty (he with the flowing auburn locks) was indeed our host. Gently untangling himself from the crushingly dull Paul Daniels/Gordon Gekko performance, he gravitated towards us, where yours truly, with my nosey gitometer set to a healthy seven, mined him for his life story.
Before Marty owned restaurants he was an acrobat. He toured all over the world until his back went and he sunk his money into this place in Bath.
He had big plans for it, including an expansion over the road. He prepared a maximum of 134 plates of food a night and declined anyone who turned up asking for the 135th. Quality over quantity.
Having worked up an appetite, I plumped for the ricotta and toast to start followed by the venison ( which wasn’t dear. Well, it was but it wasn’t, oh you know what I mean).
To the untrained eye, the starter looked like a dessert. Just the right side of sickly, I luxuriated in the decadence of the presentation.
Wary of my previously tough experiences with game, I expected my molars to have something to chew over. Pleasingly tender, the meat was as it should be, aromatic and pleasingly dense.
After dinner, Marty reappeared to demonstrate the ancient art of name dropping – which turned out to be a gentler version of the taxi drivers’ “I ‘ad that so and so in the back of my cab last night.”
I suppose boasting about his clientele was one of the benefits of owning a classy joint in a desirable location. Then I told him we found his restaurant on Trip Advisor.
“Oh that thing? Most of the reviews are manufactured by Spam engines.”
We taxied back to our hotel and drifted off under the super soft uber cosy duvet.
In the morning we paid up, said goodbye to the international committee on reception and left the Bailbrook .
I scrubbed off the just married sign on the car and in its place wrote – still married!
Maybe there’s a gap in the market for signs saying just that. Now, how does one go about setting up an eBay shop…..