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Bradford on Avon: The Faces Behind the Food

Fancy a gourmet stay away? We know a little town that punches well above its weight when it comes to interesting and award winning restaurants, cafes and delis to surprise and delight fellow foodies.

Anyone who knows Bradford on Avon, understands it’s the people who make our little town so great. Fiercely independent (you will struggle to find any big chains here), it’s all about passion, personal service and a certain strength of spirit. So let us introduce you to a few friends… maybe some of them will become yours too after a gourmet stay in our medieval market town.

Dinner is served.

Let’s start at the top. Bradford on Avon has three restaurants that have (quite rightly) been awarded two AA Rosettes.

Firstly, the Restaurant at our own Woolley Grange, headed up by award winning chef Dean Westcar (formerly Head Chef at Lucknam Park's Restaurant Hywel Jones). Much of the produce is grown in the kitchen gardens of Woolley under the remit of Aldetha, our Head Gardener whose passion for growing well and in a sustainable fashion is unrivalled. Aldetha also runs the Potting Shed Shop selling fresh produce from the garden. It’s more about wheelbarrow yards than food miles here! 

Tip: the interesting wine list is worth a relaxing read by the fire before dinner, perhaps with a cheeky pre-dinner cocktail.

A 5-10minute walk down the road brings you to The George. Here Chef Alex Venables (a previous Michelin star winner) offers fresh pub food with a twist. Voted as ‘Best Pub’ in the Bradford on Avon Business Awards, they support British farmers and artisan producers.  

Further down the hill and you come to our third AA Rosette winner, The Bunch of Grapes. Expect a rustic relaxed country restaurant combined with a traditional Parisian bar, where perfect flavour combinations are expertly presented. Tony Casey, Head Chef and proprietor, does our town proud with his passion and dedication to the foodie cause.

Fancy going east? Check out the Thai Barn for authentic Thai cuisine from Saisunee.

Marvellous Morning Coffee

Sip your morning coffee by the fire or on the terrace at Woolley Grange or head down to town. One of our favourites is Gilou’s, the only Wiltshire coffee shop to be featured in the Independent Coffee Guide: ‘speciality coffee served with a soupcon of French flair is what makes this community café so popular’. Local rumour has it that Gilou’s surname (De France) means he is linked to royalty. Shock horror, no way he says, it’s just that his family lived on the border between France and Belgium - ‘de france’ merely clarified which side of the border his family came from.

Pooch in tow? Doghouse is a must. Delicious coffee and morning nibbles for owner and dog. Ruth, the proprietor, is welcoming, helpful and stocks most things for your pet. A great shop for browsing or nipping into the dog salon for perfect preening!

People who lunch

When guests ask us where they should go for lunch locally we have to keep from mentioning too many places, such is the abundance of good choices. If the weather is warm, al fresco is a must! Aside from the lovely terrace at Woolley Grange, you have a choice of riverside venues such as Timbrell’s Yard, where chef Luke Gibson, believes in running a calm and supportive kitchen (no Gordon Ramsays here), one of our several canalside cafes (The Granary has a unique historical setting by the Tithe Barn) or a local country pub (the Inn at Freshford has extensive gardens). A lunchtime favourite for the whole family is Ravello (next to the Bridge Tea Rooms and equally characterful) where Bruno and his Italian family produce tasty pizza and pasta dishes.

A Picnic Lunch

If you’re staying with us, we will happily pack you a picnic before you set off on an adventure. If you’d prefer to create your own be sure to visit Christophe’s Cheese Shop on Market Street. Christophe is originally from Picardy. He moved to the UK aged 21 to learn English but then met his wife of Bath and stayed. Wyfe of Bath is indeed one of the more popular local cheeses that he sells, but the best seller? Well that has to be a vintage cheddar from Cheddar Gorge. For fresh bread from Hobbs House or Bertinet bakeries, pop into Christine’s (a fairtrade shop) or for home baked goodies, Granny Mo’s Deli. Wine with your cheese? Cru Wines is a lovely wine shop that has recently opened on Silver Street. Here Leanne encourages you to browse and perhaps stay for a little wine tasting before choosing the perfect bottle!

Afternoon Tea.

When in the West country…if you can find space for afternoon tea, Bradford on Avon is the place to be! Woolley Grange offers delicate patisserie, scrummy scones, clotted cream and jam and fresh sandwiches with fresh leaf tea, all served on white fine bone china.

Alternatively, choose the quaintest and most photographed building in the town, The Bridge Tea Rooms. Double winner of the UK Tea Guild's 'Top Tea Place', waitresses in white Victorian pinnies serve home baked scones and cakes by Alison Hayward, owner and manager.

Other Foodie Nuggets

If you love clever cakes, you’ll love the Cake Architect. David trained as an architect but hated it. So he returned to his two loves – baking and Bradford on Avon and now makes fabulous wedding and birthday cakes and rather tasty cupcakes that also look amazing!

Lotte Duncan of previous BBC Ready Steady Cook fame, moved to Bradford on Avon a few years ago. Having run the Thame Food Festival successfully for a couple of years, she thought Bradford on Avon equally deserving. So this year the first Bradford on Avon Food Festival took place. With over 100 artisan food producers, a fun dog show and over 3000 visitors, it was heralded a success. So much so, that there is also going to be a Christmas Food and Drink Festival. Yum! (Please note that the food festivals are currently on hold due to Covid).

If you are staying with us on a Wednesday night, do visit our market on a Thursday morning, a tradition as enduring as our little medieval town. Small but perfectly formed you’ll find an abundance of flowers, fresh bread, produce and tasty bites.

There are many more lovely food producers in the town. We could go on, but please do explore and let us know of any more delicious discoveries. A big thank you to all our the restaurant, cafe and shop owners who agreed to their photos appearing in this article.

Bon Apetit!