It may be slightly out of the way (and uphill) but Marlborough Tavern is worth the trip. Visit once and you'll know why this gastropub is so popular.
This contemporary space is the ideal place to relax in style. It's not modern to the point of being uncomfortable, but at the same time is it not as dull as traditional pubs. The Marlborough Tavern is quite bright, and sage and cream dominate, but their bold wallpaper is the real eye-catcher.
There's a floral one with purple accents at the very back and a baroque, burgundy and flocked one covering a prominent corner. On the same corner, you can sit on a padded velvet bench attached to the walls and elsewhere you can pick from a few retro couches or occupy one of the wooden tables with matching chairs.
On the walls there are modern paintings bursting with colour, and there's bunches of fresh flowers on every table and on the bar there are white orchids. And the best is still to come. Marlborough Tavern has, arguably, the most elegant pub garden in the whole of Bath. It's beautiful, elegant and calming. It's surrounded by an old stone wall and split into separate areas by wooden partitions planted with herbs.
Along the stone walls are wooden benches covered with green cushions and, in case of rain, there are multiple sail-like covers hanging over the first table. Attractive yet simple, the garden of Malborough Tavern is worth the trip in itself, and the interior is only slightly less pretty.
Marlborough Tavern is located just outside the Approach golf course. The area is rather quiet despite the fact it is very close to the Royal Crescent and it is clear that the pub is the real people magnet here. It is a favourite with thirtysomethings who come to eat the excellent food or just for the chatty atmosphere. However, the garden attracts many younger people in their twenties.
There's almost no music but people come in to chat over a pint or, even better, a well chosen glass of wine. Marlborough Tavern has more class than your usual boozer, so don't expect raucous laughter or excessive drinking as neither seems to be well tolerated.
Marlborough Tavern is one of those places where the menu changes daily, so you can guarantee the ingredients are fresh. Meals are along the lines of seared Chew Valley smoked salmon with fennel puree, beetroot, liquorice and fresh herbs.
Other options include whole pan fried megrim sole served with brown butter, new potatoes and season greens - it may sound daunting but it tastes very good. The desserts are along the same lines with lemon posset with strawberry and walnut honeycomb or rhubarb creme brulee with lemon sorbet.
The prices are not entirely friendly but, for anybody with a taste for well sourced ingredients, they are worth it. Starters range from £6 to £7.50, the mains are a tad expensive at £9 to £17.50 and the puds are between £5 and £6.
Marlborough Tavern has great wines but that quality has a price and in the case of Marlborough Tavern it's not particularly cheap. For example, one of their recommended bottles is a Chateau Monteils 2004, going for £6.50 for 125ml or £22 for a 375ml bottle.
Cheaper options are also available and beer is always handy to keep the costs down. Bottles include Corona, San Miguel, Old Speckled Hen, Leffe, Weston Organic Cider, or, on draught, there's Butcombe, Staropramen, Hoegaarden and the usual suspects. In general, Marlborough Tavern is a good location for wine sampling, if you have money to spare.
The Last Word
It's hard to tell if the garden or the food is the real asset of the Marlborough Tavern. Both are equally good, and with the wine thrown in for good measure this place is a must.