A cross between London’s Ottolenghi, Lyme’s Town Mill bakery and a west country farmhouse kitchen, Sam’s Kitchen Deli is a wonderful place to go for lunch in Bath.
Located just past the Fine Cheese Company and Meticulous Ink, in the artisanal quarter of Walcot Street, it is actually a really good idea to leave the hurly burly of the town behind you and come here for something completely different. You will know you have arrived even without reading the sign.
There will be a wide open glass door, music playing into the summer air and you will see families and friends sitting at a long wooden table, chatting, eating salads, warm bread, quiches and soups or taking tea or coffee with cakes, biscuits or pastry. You might imagine you have stumbled upon a private party, but rest assured, this is just communal, gregarious dining. All are welcome.
In what is really quite a small space, Sam Wylde and Steve Wesley have packed a great deal. Just 31 and 41 years old respectively, their CVs include cooking and management at Babington House, The Archangel in Frome and At The Chapel in Bruton.
“We are offering really simple, fresh, seasonal food. There is nothing fussy on the menu. All the ingredients come in, we cook them, they get eaten, and then the next day we just start again. We just wanted to create a space that was just like eating at home, where you can relax and feel comfortable”
On the shelves you can spy their cookbook inspirations: The River Cafe and Darina Allen’s “Forgotten Skills of Cooking” are lined next to tins of Ortiz tuna and anchovies, and Brindisa olive oils.
There are also bookshelves lined with other books and magazines for customers to peruse while they wait for their food and drinks: a squashy sofa, school chairs, a wooden trunk, upholstered armchairs, shaker coat pegs and a stand-up piano creating a very homely, cosy atmosphere.
The service is fast and efficient, and this place is very popular so it needs to be. Sam’s Kitchen is also a delicatessen, so you can go in and buy the salads to take away.
I am sitting next to a very nice young Swedish girl, a solicitor who lives in Box and commutes to Newbury. Her little toddler daughter is enjoying the French beans and chicken salad. I am thoroughly enjoying my summer vegetable quiche with mixed salad, I can tell that all the ingredients are of top tier quality, they are well cooked and the seasoning is just right. To my right a lady in a suit is typing in her laptop. Every seat in the house is taken, and in the tiny little open plan kitchen you can see three chefs beavering away creating everyone’s lunch.
The bread is bought in from The Thoughtful Bread bakery, and it’s absolutely delicious.
The cakes and tarts are amazing. I ate the lemon tart and it was perfection: a smooth, crumbly, buttery pastry base that had been rolled to within a millimetre of its life, topped with a zesty, zingy, soft lemon curd that sang of summer and the Mediterranean.
Through The Foodie Bugle tried and tested crystal ball I can predict many things.
Firstly, this sort of venue will be forever full, it is so friendly, charming and hospitable.
Secondly, the chefs are far too good to look to other similar establishments for inspiration. They have their own voice, their own repertoire and imprint, and it is all good.
Thirdly, other cafes and delis in Bath, particularly the branded tribes, that are so bewilderingly expensive and so woefully mediocre in their attitude to food, its provenance and treatment, will all come here to spy, take a leaf out of this establishment and copy them. Sam’s Kitchen Deli sets the bar. They’re the ones to beat.
Sam’s Kitchen Deli
61 Walcot Street
Follow on Twitter: @samskitchendeli