There’s change afoot in the West Country and Timbrell’s Yard
, a brand new pub in Bradford on Avon epitomises it exactly. Walk in to this airy, atmospheric building and you could be mistaken for thinking you’d teleported to Shoreditch.
The place is packed on a warm Thursday evening, casual drinkers enjoying pitchers of rosé in the garden’s gorgeous riverside setting, serious diners working their way through a menu that is perfectly curated by group chef Tom Blake, ex River Cottage and the man behind a trio of successful pubs that includes The White Hart
at Somerton, The Swan
at Wedmore and now Timbrell’s Yard.
This latest venture seems to be the most ambitious. The Grade 11 listed building - in its previous life a club house for, variously, tariff reform, conservatives and rowers - is a huge space with 14 beautifully converted bedrooms and coming soon a space for weddings, parties and live music.
Just a few weeks after launch and the tried and tested formula of sleek but laid back modernisation in an atmospheric old building appears to be winning. This time, though, the pub is in a busy tourist destination with the look and feel of a miniature Bath. What the three pubs do brilliantly is multi-task – so you can come for a decent coffee, the papers, home made cake and a macaroon (people have been known to have hissy fits when these run out) seguing through the day to the full blown three course dinner which we signed up for. It opens for breakfast at 7 and takes last orders for dinner at 9.45 but there are bar snacks and small plates available all day - gorgeous tempting things like salami chipolatas with grilled chilli humus (no idea but I'm keen to find out), salt beef fritters with pickled beetroot, even a Ruby Red beefburger with fries.
A word about the room first. It’s a lovely airy space with wooden floors and windows looking out to the Avon. The bar has the best of everything be it soft drinks, spirits or beer. Our request for a gin and tonic was met with ‘Which kind of gin?” Hendricks, Sipsmith, Tanqueray etc and arrived with plenty of ice and Fever Tree tonic.
Attention to detail is the thing that really sets this place apart. The menu is the kind where almost everything screams out at you. It’s all about provenance here, everything from the Bromham beetroots to the Wookey Hole cheddar is local and of the highest possible quality. Pig is a speciality, Gloucester Old Spots bred in the Somerset Levels, other meat from a Bristol butcher who traces faimly butchery back to 1890. Milk, organic of course, comes from a small dairy farm in Beckington and it's used to make last meal on earth ice cream, more of which later.
Food from head chef Ricky Ford is both inventive and appealing (not always the case). A starter of mussels, tomato, chilli and pangritato (a slice of fried sourdough) was wonderful right down to the last mouthful of bread dipped into tomato sauce.
Fish is a speciality here and I loved pan fried bream with Cornish samphire, peas, broad beans and tomatoes. Slow roast pork belly and crispy smoked pig’s cheek was just how you’d want it – tender flesh but with punch and crunch.
We shared a trio of homemade ice creams – it was the salted caramel that did it – but in hindsight I wish I’d saved room for custard tart with stem ginger ice cream, lemon posset with macerated Cheddar strawberries and vanilla shortbread or the full blow out, Rocky road sundae, vanilla ice-cream and rum sauce. Have to go back for that one I reckon.
The bedrooms here show the same detail – roll top baths with a view overlooking the river or loft style with a window seat , crisp white bed linen, merino wool rugs, local Bramley bath products – this place has got holiday written all over it.