Al Fresco Dining at Olio, Homewood, Bath

Homewood is a beautiful countryside hotel in Freshford, Bath (map below) which has recently launched its new al fresco dining area, Olio. With a terrace overlooking the hotel's gorgeous grounds, the space is absolutely stunning. 

With an ethos of British home-cooked food served in elegant but cosy and intimate surroundings, Olio has a range of innovative as well as classic dishes. They offer lots of sharing dishes, in addition to individual mains and sides. All the salads can be ordered as small or large, allowing you to tailor to your preferences - according to your appetite, party size etc. Embracing the Mediterranean, tapas-vibe, we ordered multiple dishes to share.

Selection of Baked Breads 🥖 [Complimentary]

The sourdough and stout bread are both baked in house and served with split vinegar, rosemary and chilli oil. We really liked both, but were especially impressed with the pumpkin and stout bread because it was so unique and flavourful. You could not taste the stout but it was definitely evident in the texture and colour: dense, dark and sticky. We loved the crunchy pumpkin seeds on top too.

Iberico ham, manchego & truffle honey 🥓 [£9]

The addition of truffle honey took this classic combination to the next level and made it feel extra indulgent. The honey paired really well with saltiness of the cheese and ham. Whilst subtle, the truffle contributed more depth.

Spicy tomato gazpacho 🍅 [£6]

This was perhaps our favourite dish and definitely the best gazpacho we've ever tasted. The texture was sublime - smooth and velvety - and the flavours perfectly balanced, with a fiery kick coming from the fresh ginger. It was looked and tasted absolutely incredible; we cannot recommend it enough.

Griddled prawns with lemon, garlic butter 🦐 [£8]

These were super fresh and juicy. The garlicky lemon sauce was sumptuous and the prawns themselves large and meaty. Another tasty dish. We had the gazpacho to follow which, whilst perhaps not the conventional order, worked really well since the depth of the ginger counterbalanced the lemon and garlic.

Amaranth & sesame crusted tofu, summer salad 🥗 [£14]

Asian-inspired, everything about this dish was fresh and light. Consisting of red cabbage, carrots, bean sprouts and edamame beans, the salad was super crunchy, while the little cubes of tofu were soft and light. In our opinion, the dressing could have been more generous but it meant that the full freshness and flavour of the vegetables themselves could be enjoyed. 

Raw rainbow salad, mixed sprouts, mirin dressing 🌈 [£7]

This salad was pretty similar to the summer salad which came with the Amaranth & Sesame crusted tofu. Super colourful, it looked wonderful and the mirin dressing was not overpowering. We loved the inclusion of dill and the sliced pickled turnips. Dill is an unexpected herb in Asian-cooking but it worked really well and has inspired us to pair it with Asian flavours more when cooking at home.

Caponata, pine nuts, red wine vinegar, bulgur wheat 🍅 [£8]

Another one of our favourites. Garnished with edible flowers (grown in their garden), this looked so colourful and stunning. It was super light and had so much going on in terms of flavour and texture. The vegetables were sweet and wonderfully balanced with the red wine vinegar and the nuttiness from the pine nuts. We especially loved the addition of toasted seeds, providing a lovely crunchiness.

Chicken salad with smoked bacon & avocado 🥑 [£10]

This was a fabulous version of one of the dreamiest combinations. As lovers of all things smoked, we appreciated the use of smoked bacon, which paired even better with the creaminess of the avocado. The chicken was juicy and served shredded, meaning it was less dense and blended better with the rest of the salad. This combo can be quite rich but this version had lots of added fresh greens, herbs and raw veggies which helped to lighten it up and balance it out. We really enjoyed this and thought the large size would work really well as a main for lunch.

Heritage beets & carrots, salsa verde 🥕 [£6]

The roasted beetroots (red and golden) and carrots were soft and sweet and the salsa verde wonderfully herby and buttery. This dish is one of the few we had which was served warm and, for vegetables, it was surprisingly comforting and totally divine. On the menu, it's a side dish so we urge you to order it with whatever mains you go for.

Coconut pannacotta with mango & passionfruit 🥭 [£8]

This was totally delicious! The texture was smooth and silky, and perhaps airier than the traditional version. The main coconut layer was not too sweet, relying on the natural sweetness from the coconuts, and complimenting the sweet mango and passionfruit coulis on the bottom. The exotic flavours made it seem lighter, which was reinforced by the airy quality and meant that whilst the portion was generous, it was not too rich or sickly.

To drink, we went for a Raspberry Kombucha 🍹 [£5.50]

It was really pretty and refreshing. The raspberry flavour was strong and added a lovely sweetness to what is usually a very tangy drink

The terrace looks over the gorgeous grounds and despite its size, the carefully considered layout provides an intimate feel. The background music created a nice atmosphere. Whilst it was not super busy, there were still several tables occupied and we noticed that noise did not travel, meaning we could easily talk to one another without disturbance. The chairs and environment were so comfortable that we could have happily spent hours there. In fact, we did completely lose track of time! As they have extended their lunch hours to 5pm, it really is possible to stay and even enjoy afternoon tea or more drinks after lunch.

The venue is taking all precautionary measures to ensure a safe environment: all tables are spaced, menus are non-reusable, waiters keep their distance and they have placed hand sanitiser in several locations to help yourself. They have placed additional isolated tables on the lawn which are perfect for anyone being extra cautious who wishes to be as secluded as possible.

We loved this alfresco dining venue and thought there was something really special about it, making it particularly suited to romantic dates or special occasions. Equally, with the extensive menu and dishes available in various sizes, it is an ideal choice for larger parties, including children.

It is suitable for both lunch and dinner. Lunch would be more quiet and relaxing, whilst dinner would be very atmospheric and lively, especially since they have an outdoor kitchen. This venue is an all-rounder in all aspects and caters to many.

🤵🏻 Our server Claudio could not have been friendlier, more knowledgeable or more attentive. As soon as we arrived, he warmly greeted us and showed us to our table. Once seated, he explained the menu to us and indicated the specialities and most popular choices. He and his colleague regularly checked up on us while also giving us plenty of space to enjoy ourselves.

💰 ££-£££

Disclaimer: PR invite - complimentary experience.