Tag Archives: Bristol restaurants

Souk Kitchen, So Loud But Hard To Resist

From the outside, Souk Kitchen looks like one average sized room with a bright and colourful menu posted on the window. The bright pink, yellow and blue of the menu is not exactly what I expect from middle-eastern cuisine with its modern brightness. I also find it surprising that they do a breakfast menu but it’s 11.40am and it will have to do since the Tobacco Factory does not open until noon.

We are seated quickly at the last empty table and the service is friendly. The dark brown tables look similar to the ones at Flinty Red and the wooden white chairs are comfortable. The place itself though is so loud. We can barely hear ourselves across the table and have to repeat things and point to menu items. There are 10 tables in the restaurant and four of them are playing host to infants. There’s a very cute six-seven month old who finds it entertaining to practice her new noise-making skills. At the start of the meal this is lovely but by the end it has become mind-numbing.

Suki: tea of the month – Mango Tango £1.70

Weekend specials
Vegetable chorba soup, cauliflower puree, toasted almonds + bread £3.95
Souk Mezze + grilled flat bread £7.50
Chicken Shawarma wrap, hummus, red cabbage & fennel slaw £6.95

The food specials sounded delicious and colourful but I didn’t think there was much you could do with breakfast. I was wrong.

They had ‘the local’ for £6.25 which comprised Lincolnshire sausages, grilled back bacon, two free-range fried eggs, fresh grilled tomato, sautéed mushrooms, homemade bubble & squeak cake, toast with butter + jam or marmalade; eggs on toast with possible extras; basket of toast; basket of pastries; granola;and french toast with the possible toppings of – cinnamon +almond French toast, with seasonal fruit compote, crème fraîche and maple syrup £3.95, – Crispy bacon, grilled banana and maple syrup for £4.50.

I didn’t go with any of those and instead we both chose something that sounded more like a special, the Shakshouka, which for £4.95 was described as a typical Middle Eastern breakfast dish of poached eggs cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, onions + spices, served in the pan with homemade zatar flatbread (extra grilled merguez sausage £1.50 or feta 50p). I ordered mine with both sausage and feta while companion chose only the feta.

The dish was very tasty and the eggs were cooked (poached) well but with a yolk still runny while the whites were firm. There were peppers in the sauce which itself was well seasoned and fresh tasting. The feta cheese was very good, and I’ve tasted many varieties over the years. This was a salty and firm cheese that wasn’t too sour while the heat from the food helped it become even creamier. The sausages were firm and spicy and well suited to the dish.

The breads were also very good with a spicy rub as a topping and served warm in a basket.

I ordered a decaf Americano which I enjoyed and there was a special little touch of bringing heated up and frothed milk as an accompaniment (a shame I didn’t use it). My companion ordered a green tea which was served in an individual teapot so that it was freshly brewed from tea leaves rather than a tea bag.

If I was awarding marks then Souk Kitchen would easily get 5 / 5 or 10 / 10 for food. The service and atmosphere, however, were a whole other story. Admittedly there were only two people serving and while the guy seemed distantly friendly, the service from the woman was poor and sloppy. My coffee was sloshing away as it was placed down with the waitress barely breaking stride before she was off to the table behind us. I saw her smile only once when an older woman walked out after asking her a question and not waiting for a reply – it was more of a ‘why are people so strange’ expression that included a smile. It was the kind of service that didn’t expect a tip so I didn’t leave one.

The noisy children and the groups of people on tables made the place very loud and conversation for us was nearly impossible. I ended up writing in my notebook while he read a book he had with him.

The food may be too tempting though, enough to overcome the atmosphere. Some more dishes:

  • Chargrilled lambs liver, cabbage, walnut & barberry bulgar pilau, pomegranate & cinnamon molasses £10.50
  • pan fried salmon, zatar roast anya potatoes, roast red peppers, courgettes, harissa & mint £10.95
  • Greek yoghurt panna cotta, saffron poached fig £3.95

They sound quite hard to resist.

Souk Kitchen, 277 North Street, Southville, Bristol, BS3 1JP, 0117 966 6880

Glassboat: a delightful lunch

On Thursday, 16 August, I had reason to celebrate and thought I’d find a lovely place for lunch. From St Michael’s Hill I walked through the Galleries at Broadmead and through Cabot Circus. I passed St Nicholas Market and did not stop for Pieminister or Source but carried on through to the Welsh Back right next to Bristol Bridge. I have written about the Glassboat before and promised to come back after a mildly unimpressive meal. On this Thursday at 12pm, the restaurant was almost empty and I could not resist the view from inside or the two-course meal for £10.

There was a special menu for £10 for two courses or £15 for three and a selection also available at normal prices.

I chose the bream on greens with a dill sauce for a main and an earl grey chocolate pot with chantilly cream for dessert. I almost selected the coq au vin with mashed potato because there was no mention of potatoes with the fish and on its own I feared that it would be less than substantial. Luckily it arrived with sauteed new baby potatoes which were a great accompaniment.

The fish was pan-fried and well-seasoned and while the portion looked medium sized it was just right for me. The skin was slightly browned at the edges and crisp, while the white flesh was firm with a mild flavour. The sea bream sat on a bed of kale and sauteed new potatoes which were surrounded by a drizzle of dill sauce. The tangy dill, with its almost fennel or aniseed hints of flavour, worked well with the fish and the butter sauce. The dish was a delicious treat.

The Earl Grey chocolate pot was served with a biscuit, a dollop of chantilly cream and splash of orange marmalade tasting sauce. The chocolate was very rich and needed all the other additions to make each bite pleasant. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it but I couldn’t finish the whole thing because the cream and marmalade splash finished before the chocolate did.

The chocolate was dark and was served as a firm mousse of sorts with a hint of the earl grey giving it a slight edge. Of the three selections available it was probably the right choice although a bit too decadent in its portion size that day for me.

My lunch at the Glassboat on this particular Thursday made up for the brief disappointment the previous May. The dishes afforded me a delicious chance to linger and I sat facing the Welsh Back which shone and reflected under the midday sun all the way to Radcliffe Bridge. A wonderful experience and I happily recommend the restaurant and the view.

The Glassboat, Welsh Back, Bristol BS1 4SB, tel: 0117 929 0704 email: restaurant@glassboat.co.uk

Papadeli, Delicious and Magical

I’ve written before about how much I like Papadeli and I have previously visited to shop around, browse and read a paper while drinking coffee. That all happened downstairs, however, and this time I ventured upstairs to the magical little restaurant above the shop. Some joyful staff members informed me that I could order upstairs and that sitting there to have just tea was not a problem.

As I stepped into the cozy area upstairs the waiter greeted me and I told him that I would like some tea. ‘Tea?’ he asked. ‘Tea’ I replied and he went off to fulfil my order. I hadn’t meant proper tea of course being on a decaf diet due to my pregnancy, however, I was feeling adventurous and didn’t call him back.

I seated myself at a table near the stairs and asked for a menu when he brought me my Lahloo Breakfast Tea (£1.50) in the by now familiar solid white, individual tea pots. My friend Mark, who also had never been upstairs, arrived and ordered a Green Mulberry Lahloo tea and an apple and cinnamon tart (£3.95) from the dessert menu.

My tea was fragrant and delicious, accompanied by milk and made from loose leaves, although I chose to leave out the milk. Mark’s tea was brought in a similar Lahloo pot and his dessert was served with a dollop of fresh cream and fresh, large cherries. The tart was delicious as were the cherries, what a great touch to a lovely dessert.

We managed to stay for a couple of hours and even when the restaurant emptied we weren’t given any funny looks about clearing out near closing time. There was a specials board of food dishes and of cakes for the day which included brownies and other chocolate based sweets.

We went downstairs to pay and had a browse around the shop while comparing the merits of Arch House Deli and Papadeli. Mark had managed to buy some of the risotto of which I’d been so envious a couple of weeks back but I couldn’t feel too jealous as he treated me to some amazing looking Italian capers and of course to the tea. We oohed and aahed over the salads and delicious cakes, on display and freshly made, in the kitchen behind the counter.

I lingered at the cheese counter and vowed to come back when I could have some blue and unpasteurized cheese again. I’m looking forward to a main meal there one day which would also be a treat.

Papadeli, 84 Alma Road, Clifton, Bristol, Avon BS8 2DJ, 0117 973 6569

Nando’s, Not Bad

A sudden downpour, a feeling of exhaustion walking up Park St and a grumpy housemate who couldn’t decide on what to eat are the factors that led to a visit to Nando’s on Saturday. The last unsuccessful attempt was five years previously when we first moved to Bristol. Unlike our local Nando’s the Park St branch had been quite grubby with dirty cutlery and unpleasant chicken. There wasn’t much to recommend it back then but maybe it was time to try again.

The service was prompt, polite and informative. Our menus were handed over with some key points to remember about choosing the food then selecting a flavour / heat of sauce. There is mango and lime or lemon and herb, then the spice increases to medium, hot and extremely hot. There are many dishes which include chicken, a few sides as accompaniments and some vegetarian dishes.

I chose the 1/4 chicken with two sides of peri peri chips and coleslaw. My friend Graeme for some reason chose a haloumi and portobello mushroom burger and a side of garlic bread. The food was brought out in under 10 minutes (it is fast food after all) and wasn’t too bad. The chips were great and so was the coleslaw. The chicken was nice and tasted chargrilled although it wasn’t hugely substantial.

It would have been a fine meal if Graeme’s dish wasn’t so tiny that he insisted on sharing his garlic bread in exchange for half my chips, a bargain I regretted very quickly. The food was relatively cheap with my meal at £6.45 and Graeme’s at £6.25. His beer at £3.15 was a little dear for a small bottle but not unexpectedly so.

I enjoyed the little Saturday diversion, the building is nice and the cutlery was clean. The food was brought out quickly and all tasted pretty good with the peri peri chips being particularly good. We didn’t try any of the ice cream or the mixed olives which have previously been lovely.

The website also offers further information the available dishes so my 1/4 chicken provided 317 calories and 15g of fat, my chips were 340 calories with 14g of fat (well, half of that) and the coleslaw was 304 calories with 28g of fat. I’m not so sure I wanted to know.

Update: After asking about the taste of the burger I was told that apparently the mushroom was slippery and the haloumi was thinner than expected but it was very tasty.

Nando’s Restaurant, Park St, Bristol

Dynasty: quick and inexpensive lunch

image

Seven small dishes and two jasmine teas made up lunch for myself and my friend Graeme. The most expensive dish was £3.20 for four prawns dumplings served with salad cream.

The meal cost £25.08 including service charge. The dishes included curried baby octopus, cuttle fish cakes, deep fried squid, steamed prawns dumplings, BBQ roast pork pastries and glutinous rice.

See also Dynasty, some thoughts on the dim sum.

Dynasty, 16a St Thomas St, Redcliffe, BS1 6JJ, Tel: 0117 925 0888, web: www.dynasty-bristol.co.uk

Wagamama, Restaurant Review

Miso soup, with Japanese pickles on the side, £1.40, and edamame beans with chilli salt as starters, £3.70.

A Power Wagamama meal for me included three ebi gyoza, one raisukaree (sound it out) and one juice – that day’s special included cucumber, apple and lemon. The ebi raisukaree is a dish of prawns stir-fried in a coconut and lime curry sauce with mangetout, peppers, red and spring onions, served on sticky white rice and garnished with
red chillies, coriander and lime. £10.15.

Cumin chicken salad with rice for my companion: a warm salad of stir-fried cumin chicken with beansprouts red onions and peppers tossed in
a ginger tamarind sauce, served on baby spinach and dressed with wagamama house dressing, garnished with chillies with a small portion of rice. £9.15.

Dessert was a dark chocolate fudge brownie cake with chocolate wasabi sauce served with vanilla bean ice cream.

The food was fragrant and varied and delicious. As a chain restaurant it does brilliantly at serving food that tastes fresh and healthy, to an extent, but it does vary in its interchangeable university student led service. One meal was spent with batting away the various waiters who tried to take our unfinished ebi gyoza plate three times. We’ve had casual and rude waiters, indifferent and invisible others. On Saturday the person who waited on us was considerate and thoughtful and added to the pleasure of the visit.

We managed to get a table by the window and this helps cut down the noise from the deep restaurant which potentially fits 128 people. The noise can become quite overwhelming the deeper in the room you sit.

I visited three restaurants with an oriental / Chinese theme, Cathay Rendezvous and Zen that weekend. Cathay was average, Zen is a favourite but Wagamamas turned out to be the most fun meal with lots of variety. We were even tempted to go back the next day but it wouldn’t have been the same.

63 Queens Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1QL. 0117 922 1188. www.wagamama.com

Giraffe, Restaurant Review

Giraffe is a chain of restaurants owned by the founders Juliette and Russel Joffe and Andrew Jacobs. The first one was opened in Hampstead in 1988 and 20 years later the 36th outlet was opened in Bristol at Cabot Circus. The bright interior still remains orange and friendly on the third floor of the shopping centre and their selections have remained rather varied.

On a warm and sunny Saturday I visited for lunch with a friend and hoped for a relaxed and healthy meal. We both ordered mint tea and the tea bag was brought on a little plate resting on a glass cup of hot water. £1.90.

We ordered marinated olives and pickles as a starter and were brought a small dish full of green olives and pickled onions. £2.65. The olives did indeed taste marinated and delicious, the dish was colourful and fresh tasting, really lovely.

My friend ordered the deluxe falafel burger which was served with grilled pepper, hummus, beetroot, rocket, halloumi, tzatziki & harissa. £9.50. It was served with skin on fries. The chips were gorgeous and I think I loved them more than he did. I regretted not ordering them as a side but was quite happy with my meal.

I ordered the ‘Bronte Beach’ Summer Salad and it was made up of spiced roast pumpkin, edamame beans, spinach, beetroot, zucchini, green beans, peas, freh orange & toasted seeds in our golden balsamic dressing. It was nice and I liked the healthy feeling of it but I did have to add salt as it was a little under seasoned. £8.95.

A 10% optional service charge was already added to our bill and it came to £27.95. The only thing that could have improved it was more chips but that will have to wait until next time.

Glass house, Cabot Circus, Bristol, BS2 9AB. 0117 930 0603