“ Address: 2 John Street / Bath / Avon / England / BA1 2JL / Tel: 01225 482 070 „
We occasionally visit Bath for the day to meet up with my son who lives in Bristol, and we like to try a different restaurant each time we go. There is no shortage of eateries in Bath, but the problem is that many of them close between 2.30 and 6pm. We were looking for somewhere at about 3 in the afternoon and drew a few blanks. Just as we were going to head back to Cafe Rouge, we came upon the Firehouse Rotisserie in John Street. Yes, they were still serving food and yes, they did have a table for four, right by the window.
At first the restaurant seemed quite small, but I discovered later that there were tables on the first floor as well. I personally liked the décor, with still-life paintings, strings of chillis, and what looked like some old carved wooden gates hung on the wall. There was a large circular ironwork light fitting with a ring of small lamps, and smaller light brackets on the walls. The wooden tables were laid only with cruet, wine glasses, cutlery and linen napkins. There were no flowers on them but a beautiful big bouquet stood on the bar. Ambient music was playing most of the time; it seemed relaxing at first but got a little boring after a while.
It wasn't until after I returned home that I found out the Firehouse Rotisserie is an American restaurant. When we entered, we knew that they served pizzas as well as a variety of other dishes. As soon as we were seated we were handed menus, and a couple of minutes later the waitress returned to take our drinks order. My younger son has developed a taste for cider since moving west, so he ordered a glass of Stowford (£3.25) which lived up to expectations. The rest of us ordered fruit juice at £1.45 a glass.
We were intending to have just a main meal, but Firehouse does do a selection of 'small plates'. These include Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls (£5.25), grilled jumbo tiger prawns (£7.95), barbecue duck quesadilla (£6.95) and crayfish and rocket salad (£6.95). Quite an original array of dishes.
The Firehouse Rotisserie offers gourmet brick fired pizzas with toppings such as prosciutto ham, fresh mozzarella, fresh oregano and shaved parmesan. My younger son and I both decided on lemon oregano chicken pizza bianca with three cheeses and crispy bacon (£11.95). My elder son and his partner both went for a vegetarian pizza with goat's cheese, sun dried tomatoes, artichokes, pesto, olives and rocket (£11.95).
As well as pizzas, there is a choice of main dishes from the rotisserie and grill. These include Pacific crab and salmon cakes (£14.25), six hour baked 'carnitas' shoulder of pork (£14.95), honey barbecued confit duck with cheddar mash and green beans (£13.95) and twenty-one day aged spiced rubbed rib-eye steak (£18.95). There is always a vegetarian option, such as white bean, pecorino, thyme and truffle cakes with asparagus, cherry tomatoes and lemon rocket pesto (£12.95). These mains did sound tempting, but the fact that you would need to order a side dish at around £3.25 with some of them put them a little beyond our pockets. In fact, if you wanted a rocket and shaved parmesan salad, that would be an extra £4.95.
When the pizzas came they certainly were rather large. My younger son was surprised that we were not offered any grated parmesan. The vegetarian pizzas were covered in rocket with the other toppings hiding underneath. Our chicken ones looked enticing, with fresh oregano leaves, little strips of lemon zest, small pieces of bacon and plenty of chicken amongst the cheese. The chicken was very tender but didn't have a great deal of flavour in itself. Plenty of interesting flavours were, however, provided by the other toppings. The pizza base was quite thin and a good consistency, with the crust being fairly crisp but not overly so. The waitress had said something about bringing sharper knives; she didn't come back, but we managed well enough with the ones we had. The plates, however, had a dip in them which didn't make cutting easy at times. We couldn't quite finish our chicken pizzas, but my elder son and his partner polished off their goat's cheese ones. No wonder they were both so sleepy on the train home.
Desserts were around £5.25 and included chocolate brownie or fruit and champagne jelly with cream. There was also ice cream with espresso for £4.25. All of us were too full after our huge pizzas to even contemplate a dessert. My elder son and his partner decided to order mint tea (£1.60 each) to help their digestion. They were each served a pot of tea that contained about two and a half cups.
Our bill came to £58.60, to which we added a tip as service was not included. Service was polite, efficient and friendly enough but not overly so.
Firehouse Rotisserie does have a kids' menu with just two choices: cheese and tomato pizza or rotisserie chicken with fries, both at £5.25. I can't remember seeing any sign of highchairs while I was there.
Unfortunately the toilets are right up on the second floor, so there are four flights of stairs to negotiate. When we were there, the stairs up to the first floor were just bare planks of wood. Several notices asked clients to take care as they were in the course of repairing the stairs. Even with my bad knees I did manage to get up to the second floor and found the ladies' toilets to be very clean and well supplied with toilet tissue, soap and paper towels. The mirrors had wide, rough wooden frames that were totally in keeping with the décor of the restaurant itself. I believe there is a disabled toilet on the ground floor, but I didn't actually see it.
When we arrived at Firehouse around 3pm it was fairly busy, but most of the people there were just finishing lunch and by 4pm the place was almost empty. Just one other party of four arrived while we were there, but I would imagine the restaurant gets busy in the evenings. It is in the city centre, close to both Milsom Street and the Jane Austen Centre. The Theatre Royal is also not far away. It is interesting to find a restaurant that offers gourmet pizzas but does not confine itself to Italian cuisine. Firehouse Rotisserie is definitely one to make a beeline for if you want a meal mid to late afternoon, but also for lunch or dinner if you are looking for something that is a cut above the run-of-the-mill chain restaurants.
2 John Street
Tel. 01225 482070
Firehouse Rotisserie has another restaurant at:
Tel. 0117 9157323
The Bath restaurant is closed on Sunday, but the Bristol branch is open every day.
Also posted on other sites.
The Firehouse Rotisserie bills itself as a Californian restaurant and is based in central Bath (there is also a branch in Bristol) and it's dishes are mainly grills and brick fired pizzas. We ate there one Monday lunchtime, arriving at about 12.30pm, which was about right as it got quite a bit busier after that. We sat on the ground floor but it looks like they have tables upstairs if this was full. The decor is simple, but nicely furnishes with wooden tables and chairs. Our waitress gave us the food and wine menus, there were no other drinks menus, so we were unsure what other drinks there were so just went with the usual soft drinks. I like interesting juices and home-made lemonades but there didn't appear to be any other drinks menus, so I have no idea if this is available. We both went for their Gourmet Brick Fired Pizzas. I thought they were quite expensive at £10.95 and £11.95 each, but looking around the restaurant seemed to be generous with their portions on the grill side of things.
I ordered a pizza with goats cheese, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, pesto, olives and rocket. All ingredients which I love so I was looking forward to it. It arrived piled high with toppings, if you had wanted to eat the pizza with your fingers I think you would have come a cropper, as gravity would not have allowed it! Plus I am not sure the pizza base could have supported the weight alone without a plate. However, whilst it was generously topped, it wasn't particularly well presented. I don't know if it was company policy or I just had a lazy chef prepare mine, but the pieces of each ingredient were quite large and not chopped much. The olives were large and sometimes I had two-thirds of one next to a large piece of sun-dried tomato, with a piece of artichoke three times the size I would like, on a great wodge of goat's cheese with peppery rocket piled on top. As well as being difficult to eat, (you did get a good knife to cut it with - at least you're not trying to tear it with a regular knife and sending all those toppings flying) sadly it didn't taste very nice. The ingredients just competed with each other, I was getting a combination of strong flavours that clashed rather than complemented. I picked off the olives first, and that helped, but there were so many I couldn't get them all. I then started removing the sun-dried tomato, but still the pizza just didn't work for me. I don't recall the pesto dressing at all and that normally has a bit of a tang, but it obviously got lost under everything else. My other half ordered Spicy Baja Chicken pizza with avocado salsa, fresh coriander and sour cream. He was also disappointed, as the chicken, whilst spicy, just took over from everything else, and the avocado salsa which he had so much been looking forward too, just got lost.
Whilst the food had been disappointing, the service was good, such as it was. Toilets were clean and tidy although on the second floor (I believe their were disabled toilets on the ground floor). We decided not to have a dessert. Overall our bill came to about £27. I don't feel I can recommend this restaurant unfortunately. It was expensive for a pizza, and they may justify it with their generous portions, however I would rather have a cheaper price with a more modest, yet still adequate, level of topping. This way the flavours may distribute themselves a bit better, instead of all in the same mouthful. Saying that, the quantity of the topping is irrelevant if the pizza doesn't taste very good. The base seemed well done, but I am not sure mozzarella cheese was used (on either of them), as I didn't get the stringy effect as I lifted a piece up. However it would have been overpowered on our plates anyway, but sometimes less is more.