( G R E AT R E S TA U R A N T S )
THE THREE GABLES Balancing a comforting pub-like vibe with the feel and quality of a high-end eatery, this local gem hits the sweet spot, reckons Jessica Carter P h o t o s b y M AT T I N W O O D
lthough 1 St Margaret’s Street in the beautiful little town of Bradford-on-Avon dates right back to the 1600s, it has been known specifically as the Three Gables since the early 1930s. Even more recently – around four years ago – it evolved into the restaurant that we know today. An olde-worlde, quintessentially British building with bare stone walls, a handful of chimneys and little leaded windows, it sure looks the part from the outside. The interior is a little more modern. Downstairs there’s a bar and lounge, where we had a pre-dinner vino before making our way up to the restaurant, which itself was all white linen table cloths, polished glassware and candlelight. Sicilian manager Vito – formerly of The Bath Priory and The Royal Crescent – runs a calm, friendly and professional front of house outfit. He’s also well clued up on his wines, which The Three Gables has a novel and interesting collection of. There are a good few natural, organic and biodynamic varieties, with interesting characteristics and flavours. Gathering that he knew more about our favourite grape product than we do, we asked
him to make our liquid choices for us, and he introduced each with down-toearth, understandable language. We started with a Sicilian Regaleali Bianco, from the region’s oldest winery, Tasca d’Almerita. This is one of Vito’s faves – he’s been working with their wine for 25 years now. With glasses full, it was time for some grub. The menus (as well as the a la carte, there’s a £48 tasting menu, which is what we were recommended) are skewed towards modern European in style, but still feel classic and have a whisper of British tradition about them. Hare and chicken rillettes (£9.75) and asparagus and hen’s egg with veal sweetbreads (£10.50) were among the starters, while mains took the shape of pork belly with camomile infused fillet and gnocchi (£20.50) and Cornish turbot with cucumber capers (£24.50), to name just a couple. For us, an appetizer of tomato gazpacho was served at the ideal temperature – cool but not fridgecold – and topped with a super-light but creamy mozzarella mousse and a scattering of tiny black onion seeds. It was followed by claret-coloured slices of sashimi tuna, pan seared with a sesame seed crust and served with a delicate horseradish pannacotta. The freshness of the fish was echoed in the tiny cubes of crisp watermelon it was served with.
The Three Gables is known for its on-point risottos; we got to try a pea version, drenched in a shellfish bisque and topped with raw Sicilian red prawns. The flesh of the prawns was almost melt-in-the-mouth in texture, while its raw, naturally salty flavour acted to season the velvety rice it sat on. Next, pink slices of Gressingham duck breast joined a spelt raviolo stuffed with soft and tender confit leg. Chunks of romanesco and wonderfully sweet braised red cabbage hid among the meat, and swirls of jus brought moisture and well-balanced richness. With this we quaffed a ruddy good red (Valpolicella Superiore) from a Northern Italian estate which uses bio-dynamic practices. While its lightness ensured it didn’t overpower any of the dish’s subtleties, it was still full enough to hold its own. Dessert was a Moscato-soaked baba, the airy, saturated sponge having an almost bready, doughnut-like texture and sweet, browned crust. A scoop of mild peachy sorbet was employed to cut through that sweetness. The Three Gables makes thoughtful, good-quality food accessible and pretty affordable (at £18 for three courses, and £14 for two, the set lunch menu is especially good value). And, with a unique, well-considered wine list that combines contemporary trends with the traditional attitudes of small producers, there’s extra reason to go check it out. ✱ THE THREE GABLES, 1 St Margaret’s Street, Bradford-on-Avon BA15 1DA; 01225 781666; thethreegables.com