Monthly Archives: January 2014

No. 4 Clifton Village, food review

The night we visited No. 4 Clifton Village couldn’t have been darker or wetter if we had come off a boat and landed in Alaska (in the dark). Compared to the horrible outside, the surroundings were softly lit and enticingly coloured all due to some recent refurbishing, apparently. Tapestry in rich red colours hung on the walls, the lighting was low and the tables were stripped down wood in not unpleasant tones.

The dining room was half-empty so I thought maybe we should sit by a window but then realised all we’d be looking at would be a car park. Best to be by the opposite wall where the other tables and chairs weren’t right by us. Up close the tapestry was not tapestry after all but a wallpaper with a plastic feel that seemed to be peeling a bit down the bottom. A shame, admittedly, but I thought a glass of red wine would cheer up proceedings.

My choice of red wine , an Australian Cabernet Sauvignon did not fare well in the crossing to England at all and was sharp and not fun to drink. Luckily towards the end of the large glass I was no longer too bothered. I just compare it to a delicious Yellow Tail Shiraz I tried recently where the cherry flavours practically melt into a syrup as you drink and wish that there had been a maitre’d or someone available to guide me to a better selection. No. 4 Clifton Village just isn’t that kind of place.

There was a short menu of four starters and four mains with two of the former being vegetarian and one of the mains. That’s quite impressive these days so I was most pleased.

We ordered some bread with olives until the food came along and were quickly disappointed. The bread and olives were served with cold butter in individual foil packets, the basil oil, which was promoted by our waitress, was a lovely vivid green but in taste was bland and pointless. All of this would have been somewhat acceptable if the bread was not so tasteless. With the number of very good bakeries that Bristol hosts it is a huge shame to serve such uninspiring offerings.

The rest of the food for me was a bit more palatable.

My starter of bruleed goat’s cheese, walnut and beetroot done in two ways was just gorgeous in its slightly caramelised appearance, the sweetness of the dark red puree, the golden beetroot and the scatterings of something sweeter and crunchy. I loved it and would happily go back for more.

My main was curried arancini balls with cauliflower and apricot and these were also rather tasty and more filling.

My partner’s lamb dish was just lamb, however. No sides, which would have been an additional £3 and would have taken this dish to nearly £20. Considering we’d been to the Ox recently where their special is rump steak, chips and a glass of wine for £12.50 there was an instant dislike to this patently inferior dish with its much higher cost.

There are plenty of great restaurants in Bristol at the moment which offer similar priced food and No 4 accommodate this by offering many price deals. January, for example is two courses for £10.

If I was a meat-eater I would still rather go to the Ox on Corn Street or Flinty Red on Cotham Hill. As a vegetarian I would wait for a different main to go on the menu but wouldn’t say no to another visit if the bread was improved. In fact I suggest that in Mediterranean style, a basket of warm bread be served with some proper butter to all diners. It would help them be more satisfied with the small portions.

The Rodney Hotel, 4 Rodney Pl, Bristol, Avon BS8 4HY, 0117 970 6869

A perfect day for vegan fish

Picture it, Colchester 2004.

My then-boyfriend Graeme and I were visiting a pet store with friends who wanted to buy an aquarium, possibly even a clown fish after just having seen Finding Nemo.

There were tanks of tropical fish. That is to say, there were little creatures of dark crimson and royal blue who flickered and swam and propelled themselves with voluntary movements of their muscles and fins. They filtered water through their gills as they swam, extracting oxygen from the water. Miracles of creation no bigger than a 50p coin, a colourful reflection of the miracle of nature.

As I watched them slightly mesmerised, a voice piped up with “I wonder how that tastes?” about a particular dark blue fish. I was horrified. “Whoa there!” horrible carniverous voice. Here I am reflecting on the miracle of creation and you pipe up with your petty, low-life stomach urges? How could I pretend to admire and love the other beings on earth when my basest desire was to gobble them up with sliced and fried fish and a bit of lemon?

That wasn’t the moment I decided to be vegetarian but it was one of the many moments scattered around my life that made me decide to stop eating other animals.

My following and practise of Buddhism has also convinced me to have my actions in harmony with my thoughts and feelings. So here it goes.

2014 is my year of not eating other creatures. Reviews and explorations of food on this blog will not contain meat products.

So far it has been a bit of a challenge and instead of it being a problem, it reminded me that I like puzzles and thinking about things and analysing.

There will be more to follow but I wanted to publish this while I had the chance.