Tag Archives: restaurant

Severnshed, Review

The view from the Severnshed is one of the loveliest in Bristol and it held my gaze for most of the evening although it was mainly the smokers who enjoyed the fresh air on the balcony. The lounge / bar area to the left of the entrance is suffused with warm lighting in a comforting dark wood environment. The restaurant to the right is spacious and has a similar set of doors that look out towards the floating harbour and the houses on Redcliffe.

The Severnshed changed owners in March 2010 to the same people who own Coal Grill and Bar at Cabot Circus although apparently the staff stayed in place. Monday night provided an opportunity to sample the new wine menu and some new dishes. There were four of each and I expect they were either chosen for their differences in order to demonstrate the range of the kitchen or because they were the best of what was available. I’m hoping it was the former.

The first combination was lime and chilli king prawn skewers seasoned with just salt and pepper, accompanied by an Australian Riesling. The prawns are on the starter menu for £6.95 and they were quite under seasoned with no hints of citrus or spice. In contrast, the pineapple addition to the skewer was juicy and had a just barbecued, sweetly grilled flavour. The wine, of which I had a taste was pleasant and chilled enough.

This was followed by chorizo with garlic oil accompanied paired with a rose cabernet sauvignon tempranillo. The spicy sausage flavoured with paprika was thickly cut, full of flavour and the best dish of the four. The rose had a nice colour and was suitable for the dish. The cost of the dish at the restaurant is £4.50 for a small dish or £11 for three dishes out of a selection.

The lobster risotto had an actual piece of lobster which was cooked from fresh. Sadly the dish was slightly under seasoned and the parmesan cheese added a gloopiness to the very well cooked rice which was interesting if not actually useful. I’ve had better risotto so not sure how happy I would have been with the menu price of £11.95 for the slight blandness which was served.

The last taste was a dish of beef on skewers in meatball sized portions. I managed one of mine but it took so long to chew that I didn’t bother with the second one. It was served with a more robust merlot red wine which was nice enough and could have been a good choice for a meal.

For most people the highlight of the evening seemed to be the service and the cocktail served at the start. For me it was the atmosphere and the view although the latter was slightly marred by the blackboard by the balcony doors which had a list of drink prices. At £4.50 for a pint of Westons Organic Cider it would have made an expensive round for two. This slightly spoiled any thoughts of a future visit although the chorizo promises that there may be some hidden treats on the menu. Despite the waterfront location, seafood was not a winner on this beautiful evening.

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Myristica, opening night

As previously mentioned, I hold great affection for Myristica and am very glad they are re-opening. The date was announced yesterday and Myristica at Welsh Back opens tonight. More precisely, the opening will be on March 19, 1730 at 51 Welshback, Bristol, BS1 4AN.

To make a reservation call 0117 927 2277.

Opening times are as follows: Mon-Friday Lunch 12.00 – 2.00 | Mon – Saturday Dinner 5.30 – 11.30 (last Orders 11.15) | Sunday Dinner 5.30 – 10.30 (last Orders 10.00).

Myristica, Welsh Back

The Indian restaurant Myristica has been closed for over a month while they relocated from their King St premises. The wait is nearly over however as today they announced they will re-open in mid-March. The restaurant will be taking the place of what was once Bibas Lounge Bar and Restaurant at 51 Welshback Bristol BS1 4AN. As Amit Lakhani says, the Welsh Back “is a centre of food excellence with Severnshed, Riverstation, Mud Dock and Aqua well established, and now Myristica bringing something new to the mix. We were a bit tucked away in King Street and this site will give us much more exposure,”

The restaurant was recently voted Best in Bristol by the Evening Post and offers a slightly more delicate and unusual selection of dishes. Myristica specialises in authentic, regional-specific Indian food and the menu goes far beyond what you’ll find on the highly Anglicised menus of normal curry houses. The menu reads like an Indian food odyssey with exotic ingredients and a much more extensive choice of fish and vegetarian dishes and desserts, and whereas most Indian restaurants use one curry sauce as a base for all their dishes, at Myristica all sauces are made individually to order for true authenticity.

Sample dishes include starters of baby squid deep fried and tossed with bell peppers, chilli flakes and honey and rabbit varuval, a South Indian speciality of rabbit meat tossed with onions, chillies, curry leaves & ground spices; the house speciality main course of pista murgh (breast of chicken cooked in a mild cream sauce with ground pistachios and a hint of saffron) or prawn chettinad with kerala paratha (wild catch black tiger prawns cooked with a roasted blend of fennel, peppercorn and curry leaves ) and tandoori pineapple (glazed with cinnamon and honey served with saffron ice-cream) or chocolate samosas, for dessert.

Despite losing the open plan kitchen feature at the new site, Amit is confident that Myristica will thrive on Welsh Back and it will be a great platform for growth of the business into a second site in Clifton in the near future.

Myristica is expected to re-open mid March, please visit the website or call for bookings. Myristica’s popular cookery school will re-commence on April 10.

Graze, a comfy experience

Friday night in Bristol and it’s after 9 o’clock by the time a friend arrives to visit for the weekend. We stop off for a quick drink in the Big Chill Bar and they have just stopped serving food. We decide to try out El Puerto, a tapas bar opposite the Arnolfini, for some food although some friends have just gone for dinner at Graze. The Spanish restaurant is too full to even wait around for a table and we watch the couple in front of us get turned away. We pass by the helium balloons of the leaving party next to the door and head out and back to Queen Square to join the friends.

The time is after 10 by now and the group we join has just ordered but the staff at Graze are more than accommodating. They immediately move us all to a bigger table, ask if we all want to eat at the same time and with a slight encouragement for us to order soon they adjust and it all flows smoothly. Out of habit I order the house red and it turns out to be a light though not too mellow grenache, it was a nice selection. As a Bath Ale gastropub it seemed only suitable that three of the guys ordered the Gem Wild Hare (green label). The table was by the window and easily seated seven of us. The atmosphere was pleasant and even though Graze was nearly full there was no distraction from other noises.

Four sirloin steaks (£15.95) were ordered and there are six choices of sauce such as green peppercorns and brandy, port and Stilton, and a type of mustard sauce. I chose the Cornish Pollock (12.95) which came with curly leaf kale and some other red bits of salad.

One person ordered the duck breast and was very complimentary. The steaks were quite thick and cooked to personal taste and were served with a side of triple cooked chips.

I ordered some of the chips as well and they were very tasty. Not sure what the triple cooked part means but the chips have a thick crust and while they looked overdone they didn’t taste it.

Since we were so late to dinner we didn’t order a starter but I wasn’t willing to skip dessert. I don’t consider it a proper meal without at least two courses, preferably three. The last time I was at Graze it was for four hours on Christmas eve and my meal at that time was finished off with an amazing crème brulee. Surprisingly,the creamy custard part was slightly chilled and with a layer of mixed berries at the bottom. I wasn’t sure if I should be affronted at being tricked out of my usual favourite dessert but it was delicious. I hate to give away such an intriguing little surprise but it would be a shame to keep it secret.

Last night’s intriguing little version of the creme brulee was a banoffee one and it was served in a little pot with a smokier than usual burnt sugar crust. The delicious and delicate tasting toffee cream part sat on top of a layer of banana sweetness which was more fruit puree than syrupy goo. That is definitely going on my list of favourite desserts.

The cheese board that some friends ordered was incredibly varied, not only in terms of cheese but also a fun selection of bread and crackers.

Graze may not be the culinary extraordinary experience of places like Flinty Red or the Glassboat but it’s comfy and relaxing and the food tastes good. I think of it as a lovely choice right in the city centre and next to the beautiful Queen Square.

Graze, 63 Queen Square, Bristol BS1 4JZ, 0117 927 6706, graze@bathales.co.uk

Flinty Red, an adventure

I don’t even know why I was so excited about Flinty Red but I was nearly tripping to Cotham Hill last night. Admittedly, half the semi-skips up Park St were shuffle-and-hops to keep up with my longer legged companion, he of the “are you sure you don’t want to go to Nando’s” wit. He was joking of course and in fact the restaurant was his selection. However, I had read some great reviews of the food and I couldn’t wait. If he hadn’t been joking I would have chosen the restaurant over him with little hesitation.

Flinty Red was a subtle, intriguing, exhalation of understated elegance. The table had a dark chocolate polished surface that was almost, but not quite, warm to the touch. The wine glasses were clear and large enough to allow a fair measure to be poured, whilst leaving enough room for the wine to be gently swirled. The setting was quiet and we were the only two people in there for most of the time. We were dining on a Monday, however, and two days previously they were fully booked for Saturday night.

The menu was divided into categories such as raw/pickled/salad and cured/smoked/preserved. We had tapenade and toast from the first group a salchichon Iberico with nutmeg from the second. The dark olive tapenade was light and delicious with flecks of caper, and an accompaniment of fragrant garlic-flavoured oil on toasted bread.

I understood little of the food menu and even less of the wine one. Since the owners also run Corks of Cotham, the independent wine merchants just a few doors down the street, the selection was vast and fascinating (no Merlot in the condensed list that I saw). This dinner was much closer to an adventure and the waitress was more than helpful, and definitely necessary, in explaining different dishes and providing a recommendation for the wine selection. The Portuguese red Dos Roques (£25) was a pleasure to drink and a lovely accompaniment to the five dishes of various sizes. The plate of salchichon Iberico and nutmeg was a delicacy and the incredible pumpkin and chestnut ravioli was served in a portion of three with a butter sauce.

The grilled beef dish was presented sliced and with colourful swede, and hispi cabbage accompaniments. The meat was served so rare that the dark hue was not unlike the fresh pomegranate presented with a separate quail dish. All of it was wonderful and the olive oil served with the bread was peppery with a deep flavour while tasty enough not to need a balsamic addition.

I chose the crème brûlée for dessert while he opted for the forced rhubarb, meringue and Seville orange curd. The crème brûlée’s vanilla cream was thick and silky with a delicate crispy burnt sugar covering, while the rhubarb treat was sweet, sharp and heavenly. The dinner experience made me feel like a tourist and the service was discreet and friendly. This wasn’t an inexpensive dinner but the price was evident in the quality of the food. As my beautifully eloquent companion phrased it, “it’s not beans on toast, is it?”. Not even close.

You’ll find the restaurant at 34 Cotham Hill, Bristol, BS6 6LA.
Telephone number: 0117 9238 755, email: info@flintyred.com, http://www.flintyred.com/

A chilled Cloak and Dinner

Friday night dining was an improptu and hopeful event.I was out with a friend for a quick drink at the Big Chill bar and on the way there passed Quay Head House. I knew about the Cloak and Dinner restaurant (open 27 to 30 January) from reading reviews by Bristol Culture and EatBigBristol who ate there the previous evening. I wanted to see Belleruche play at the Big Chill bar at 11pm but it was 7.30pm and we guessed there would be plenty of time to go, wait, eat (hopefully) and then come back.

We knocked on the door and were let in (bolts sliding open on the inside) only to be told that they were fully booked but that we were welcome to wait in the lounge until a table became available. The people there were friendly and we were given a gin and tonic and the advice to keep an eye on the website. The aim was to find beautiful buildings and use them as restaurants. The room had low lighting and plates with pistacchios and cashews were  littered around on the tables. A lamp in the corner had a colourful shade in tones of grey black and red. There was artwork on the walls and while we sat a new painting was placed behind me with the comment ‘I hope it doesn’t fall on you’. Luckily it didn’t.

As lovely as the setting was, the temperature was cold and I didn’t take off my jumper and was tempted to keep my jacket on as well. The smoking policy was enjoyed by my companion and the young female students sitting across from us. They kept their jackets on.

The dress of the customers and the staff was varied. There was a charming, gleeful, almost bohemian tone to those involved with the restaurant, while others looked ready for a night out. I was in work clothes, friend in jeans and everyone seemed to fit in among the top hats and the fake moustaches. The staff member greeting people had a suit on, stockings and one trouser leg rolled up to the knee. The music downstairs was arranged by a guy with a laptop and iTunes. Same upstairs.

Three gin and tonics went by and two hours later we were tired of being cold and hungry and decided to leave. We left ten pounds for our drinks but the man with the reservation book asked us to stay for just a little longer. People are starting to leave now and there should be some space soon. We were told we could share a table with some of their friends and we agreed and sat back down. He passed back the ten pounds and said donate it at the end if you want and smiled.

About 20 people soon left the restaurant so there was a table available and we didn’t have to share. The room upstairs was friendly and brighter than the lounge while the atmosphere was pleasant and comforting. People didn’t look up and the view of the city was grimy through the windows but we relaxed. Behind us was a table of older people and we marvelled to the waitress that the clientele was so varied. She agreed and then told us the table behind us were actually the chef’s parents. Still.

Billie Holiday sang that her baby don’t care for high rise places and our order was explained and taken and the jazzy, mellow mood was set. We ordered the Borscht soup and then starters of filo pastry with some topping which I can’t remember. The soup was firm and textured with cabbage and beetroot, topped with sour cream and dill. It was served in a tea cup and there was only one spoon on the table but my friend used his fork and it was just as effective.

The soup was hearty and well-seasoned. Not too sour and not too sweet. The red wine in the unmarked bottle was light and slightly dry, a Chianti perhaps. The starters ran out so we skipped that course.  We ordered one each of the mains which were venison with salt pork slow cooked and bean casserole. The intention was to share but I was only allowed one bite of venison before he announced that I was having no more, he loved it. The bean casserole was just as good, if not better, and there was a dumpling of some sort which the waiter said was flavoured with thyme. Very nice.

The bean stew sat on a cabbage leaf on top of a parsnip mash. The portions were moderate in size which suited perfectly as we also ordered dessert to end the meal. The waiter collected our dishes and while Elvis crooned that he didn’t want no other love, the girls from two tables away grabbed our cutlery because their table had none. We all laughed and no one questioned the re-use of the forks and knives, well not out loud. Dessert was a choice between vegan banana cheesecake and a Canterbury apple tart. Both were light and tasty. The vegan cheesecake was intriguing and had dark chocolate melted with whole hazelnuts on top of grated banana.

Tables filled up around us but there were still some empty ones at ten o’clock. Two men with shaved heads and black leather jackets sat down in the corner and one said to the other ‘this is nice isn’t it?’.

The food was very good and the setting and the ambience of the place was even better. We talked to four or five of the staff volunteering there and they were all enthusiastic, open and friendly. We were told that while the restaurant was a squat, all the appropriate regulations were followed and it was legal. Something was mentioned about the bills being paid and procedures being followed. The staff were happy to be there and it showed.

The squatting scene does bring a welcoming atmosphere but it doesn’t do much for heat. The hot water taps didn’t work in the bathroom downstairs where the facilities are shared by men and women. A broken toilet door has a sign that politely suggests people knock before they enter and the hall is lit with candles and overhead lighting.  We left in a great mood and felt as if we’d shared our experience with the people working there and not just been served.

We didn’t get to see Belleruche around the corner because the queue was long and the night was cold. I heard the band play a little when they did their sound check however and they sounded great – the vocals were huskier and the guitar was lighter than on the cd. My evening started with Kathrin deBoer singing ‘I fell for you’ and ‘some things just ain’t meant to be there’. I guess that’s how it ended as well. The restaurant is there for one more night (tonight) and then it won’t be there. The beautiful building will be left empty once more but I’ll keep a look out for the restaurant which will surely pop-up somewhere around Bristol again.