ON an earlier occasion we had peeped through the doors of Popjoys and thought how cool and elegant it looked and decided that the next time we went to the theatre we would try their pre-theatre meal.

Having already booked and a good job too as a group of ladies who arrived before us found they couldn't get a table we arrived not long after the opening time of 5.30pm.

This might seem quite early to eat but with the theatre performance at 7.30pm we found it to be just about right.

It was easy to imagine the stylish Beau Nash living here, introducing his code of manners and etiquette into Bath's polite society.

He originally had the house built for his mistress, Juliana Popjoy, but after losing his own house through gambling he also ended up living here.

The high-ceilinged dining room was cool and, with the long sash windows open allowing the early evening airs to breeze in, we had a view of the colourful window boxes.

The tables, laid with crisp white clothes overlaid with blue each had a small vase of flowers on them.

There was a choice of the two or three-course menu and we opted for the two-course.

Tom's starter of sardines two very large fish arrived and were, I'm told, delicious.

I had asked for asparagus tart with shallots and goat's cheese and although small it was wonderful, with each separate taste apparent.

I could have eaten it all over again.

We had been offered a choice of warm rolls and the butter on the table was in a small dish, soft and creamy, not the solid straight-from-the-fridge sort.

We ignored the wine list but Tom opted for a bottled beer, the only sort available.

Choosing to have water with my meal I expected a carafe to appear but I had my glass filled from a jug by the waiter who continued his round of the tables throughout the meal.

We had both ordered chicken with bacon in a wine sauce for our main course. It came with new potatoes but a small dish of vegetables was extra.

We felt we couldn't fault the food at all.

It was succulent and tasty throughout.

Enjoying the meal so much we decided to go the whole hog and have a pudding and coffee as well.

One very chocolatey mousse was served for Tom, who, tantalisingly, kept telling me how good it was, and a raspberry cheesecake arrived for me. But I think I might have had the best deal just!

The service was slick and brisk the whole time, without being obviously so, and plates were quickly cleared with the next course not far behind.

The idea of pre-theatre meals is such a good one and Tomi and Nany Gretener, the owners, have it off to a tee with the whole operation perfectly executed.

We never once felt hurried but everyone had their bills and were ready to go just after 7pm, allowing plenty of time to wander along to the theatre next door.

With the menu changing every two weeks it caters for the most avid theatre-goer but for those wishing to eat later they offer a more extensive and expensive menu.

One small point, though obviously not so small for some.

The ladies' toilet is off one of the landings upstairs which is not good news for those less able-bodied, though I did see one elderly lady emerging from the gents on the ground floor, so all is not lost.


Beau Nash House,

Sawclose, Bath

Tel: (01225) 460494

Fact File

Open Mon-Sat 12 noon-2pm and 5.30pm-11pm.

Booking recommended.

Ladies' toilet quite cramped and upstairs.

Lunch and pre-theatre meals two courses £12.50, three courses £15.50.

Choice of four starters, four mains including vegetarian and four puddings, vegetables extra at £2.50.