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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Birthday celebrations at Nutmeg

The other weekend we went out for our good friend Jamie’s birthday. She had wanted to go for a curry after much deliberation and many messages between us, newly opened restaurant, Nutmeg in Clifton Village was chosen. I had seen many good tweets appearing about Nutmeg and was hoping that our experience would be just as wonderful. 

Situated in what used to be Bombay Spice, a particularly good curry house in my opinion, Nutmeg has modernised the interior with a lovely bright peacock frieze which catches the eye and gives a warm feel to the place. The menu here is a bit different to regular curry houses, so although you can find a few familiar faces such as Saag, Rogen Josh and Jalfrezi there are also a number of strangers, but the kind of strangers you want to get to know. They have a 29 at the top of the menu one dish to reflect each of the 29 states of India so there are lots of different styles of curry to sample.

Complimentary mini poppadoms and chutneys were brought to the table for us to snack on whilst we tried to narrow down our food choices. The chutneys were not the standard offerings but were tasty, although I did mourn just a touch for regular mango chutney, the spicy lime and coriander offering was delicious.  After a lot of back and forth I opted for the lamb saag, because a good base test of a place is to sample a standard, a portion of saag cheese aloo and some rice. Rich chose the lamb shank which was slow cooked with Nawab kitchen spice and served with baby naans.
Nutmeg Bristol poppadoms

Bristol Nutmeg chutneys  

Whilst we waited we soaked up the atmosphere, it was very busy in the restaurant on this particular evening so I would say booking is highly advisable. Consequently it meant the service was a pretty slow and occasionally uncoordinated but our food arrived after a reasonable wait and was greeted with hungry hurrahs.  Rich’s in particular when the big lamb shank, sitting up proudly on the plate coated in spiced sauce. 

It is worth noting that the menu doesn’t have an indication of spice level, so for those of you with a sensitivity to heat it’s worth inquiring. My saag was pretty nicely heated, I love hot food so was surprised to experience more of a kick in what is normally a fairly mild curry. Earthy and with a generous helping of melt in the mouth lamb I was delighted with my choice. The saag cheese aloo had the addition of cheddar cheese into the mix made it a more indulgent side dish to share with my carb loving bestie. 

 With some of Rich’s fluffy mini naans I had the opportunity to have a dip in the sauce of his lamb shank. What a sauce. Aromatic, spiced but only a medium heat it was a showstopper and he was pleased with his choice.  Finally the birthday girl was extremely pleased with her beef madras. Jamie is a chilli fanatic so she was a little concerned that it wouldn’t be hot enough but it satisfied her need for heat and the portion was a decent size.

We were pretty impressed by Nutmeg and totally stuffed, which was a shame as I had been recommended the chai crème brulee on Twitter. I hope to return to Nutmeg again very soon the curry was excellent and offered something a little different. To find out more about what Nutmeg has to offer check out their website

Friday, 30 September 2016

Tuesday Night Testing Polpo

This month we were invited, along with other bloggers and food enthusiasts to sample the newly opened Polpo restaurant on Whiteladies. Situated where Entelia used to be, Polpo describes itself as a bacaro, a Venetian word for a humble restaurant serving simple food and young Italian wines. Basically I think it is quite hard to describe yourself as humble it's for other people to decide really, and to be honest I am not sure whether this fits the brief of the description, for reasons I shall explain shortly.

Polpo opened its first branch in Soho in 2009 and has expanded over the years to eight restaurants, mostly in London but now also one each in Brighton and Bristol. Polpo is the Italian word for octopus and you can get a few dishes of the eight armed creature to sample. The menu is one of small plates to share or keep to yourself depending on how territorial you are about your food choices. I still don't really like small plates but if the food is good I can warm to them, it is a case by case basis for me. Rich and I were welcomed by owner Russell Norman, which was a nice touch. We chose an Aperol spritz to start which is a favourite after honeymooning in Venice in April. We were brought some of their stuffed fried olives to munch on whilst we perused the menu.

The menu is set out in sections such as pizzette, meat, fish, vegetables and also cicheti. Cicheti bars can be found all over Venice serving bite sized snacks to accompany an after work drink or quick lunch. We chose a few more cicheti, more olives, arancini, potato and parmesan crocchette and coppa and peperonata crostini. Polpo have a section for just meatballs so seeing this as a sign we opted for the pork and fennel ones with spaghetti. We also went for a gorgonzola & prosciutto pizzette, some fried gnocchi with rainbow chard pesto and peccorino. 
deep fried olives

With more dishes than arms arriving in front of us we started off with the cicheti. For me the most enjoyable elements of the whole meal were in some of the little snacks we started with. The deep fried olives are something I've never seen before. They are stuffed with anchovy, coated in breadcrumbs and fried, and they are incredible. Easily the best thing Polpo do. I also really enjoyed the arancini - creamy, crunchy and light. The crostini were crisp and topped with roasted pepper, prosciutto, capers and I think ricotta, very tasty indeed. I wasn't totally sold on the crocchette it was a bit like a hash brown with more finely grated potato.
Polpo dishes

On the the 'main' dishes. For £9 you can have three fairly large meatballs of your choice with spaghetti, not exactly a bargain. But I thought for a place that has five varieties of meatballs these have got to be worth it. They weren't. Fennel overpowered the meat I could barely taste any meat flavour at all and the tomato sauce was fairly bland as well. The pizzette had some tasty toppings but the base lacked salt. 
Polpo dishes

Polpo Meatballs

Polpo dishes
Lastly the gnocchi with rainbow chard pesto and pecorino, the gnocchi were soft and potatoey but the pesto was just too oily and flavourless to make the dish stand out. All in all a bit disappointed with the dishes we chose. We decided to finish with a coffee and ricotta doughnuts with cinnamon sugar to share. These were almost raw and doughy inside with a floury taste. It was a shame about how the rest of the meal went because the cicheti were really delicious. In fact I would welcome having a cicheti and drinks bar in Bristol. As it is I find Polpo a little expensive for what you get and the taste isn't quite there. Humble makes me think of homely food at a low price such as your mama used to make and I am not sure that describes Polpo to me.

I think despite this Polpo will be quite popular. It is a fairly well known brand and the location will catch some great after work traffic. Our meal was free of charge but did not impact my opinion. To find out more about Polpo check out their website.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Lucy's 30th Birthday Afternoon Tea at The Ritz

Recently my sister turned 30. To me that is strange to behold. No matter how old she gets I think there will always be that instinct to look after her, that's what older sisters are for right? Anyway Lucy decided that a week long celebration was in order, a series of treats which included; roller disco, home made pizzas and stall seats at Phantom of the Opera.  Before going to the show however Lucy had booked in afternoon tea for two at the Ritz. Intending to take her friend the night before I got a message saying that unfortunately her friend was still recovering and could I jump on a train to London the next day? For my sister, anything. That and tea at the Ritz is one of those things you have to cross off the list, and Phantom is my favourite show.

The Ritz requires dressing up a bit so we scrubbed our faces extra hard and put on a nice dress each. It is as you would imagine inside, lots of gold accents and the tea room has a lot of mirrors, so the light is rather wonderful. Seated at a table for two we browsed the tea menu and once the smartly dressed waiter came round we ordered a pot of chai and a  Russian caravan for me. Dietary requirements discussed, Lu is a vegetarian, we waited for our food to arrive and spent the next few moments marvelling at the surroundings.

The Ritz

Devouring all the sandwiches, which were generously filled. We eyed up which cake to tackle first and got stuck in. Afternoon tea is always more filling than you remember so soon we were almost stuffed to the gills and ready to throw in the towel. However as I plunged my fork into the last cake, the white chocolate coated one in the photo, I realised that this was something special. A hidden passion fruit centre and the softest most delicious dessert I've had in a long time. I urged my sister to sample hers, despite being full.  Happiness ensued from both sides of the table for several minutes. By the time the waiters brought round the cake trolley to offer a slice of one of their specials we had to decline.

Full to the rafters with cake this had certainly been an experience and it was wonderful to have shared it with Lucy. At £50 per person this is probably one of the most expensive afternoon teas out there. But it is one to tick off the list and a happy memory of sisterly time well spent. It is advised to book well in advance for afternoon tea at The Ritz although weekdays are obviously easier to get a slot for than weekends. To find out more visit The Ritz site.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Lunching at Mockingbird Cafe

Mockingbird on Alma Vale road has long been on my to eat list. Luckily two recent Fridays Wriggle gave me the opportunity to sample Mockingbird's sandwiches of the week. One was pulled pork in brioche and the other pulled brisket with cheddar and horseradish mayo, both with homemade coleslaw.  But I am skipping ahead of myself. Mockingbird offers a nice variety of brunch dishes as well as some specials, cakes all with a nod to Southern states in America. All dishes can be washed down with local roasted beans from Extract coffee or tea also Bristol based from Canton Tea Company. All run by a friendly and welcoming team.
Mockingbird Cafe Bristol

Mockingbird Cafe Bristol

My oh my these guys know how to make a kick ass sandwich. The pulled pork was hands down the juiciest and most tender I've ever had and the brioche was pillow soft and complimented the pork without detracting from the star of the show.  Likewise with the brisket, it was wonderfully flavoured and the horseradish mayo was perfectly judged in quantity. I personally could have done with a touch more cheese but the gorgeous Hobbs House sourdough more than compensated for that. The coleslaw was light on mayo and big on flavour, apple works so well in slaw that it was the best tangy accompaniment for such sandwiches.

Mockingbird has captured my heart for a hearty lunch, sandwiches for the soul. I am looking forward to sampling their brunch menu, but for now this is my favourite spot for a tasty sandwich it is a charming cafe with a lot of things to love. I am just sorry it has taken me this long to check it out. To find out more about Mockingbird visit their Twitter or their tumblr

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Tuesday Night Dining at Fishers

Summer in the UK seems to consist of a few fairly hot spells punctuated with multiple days of humidity. It was on one of these humid evenings that I headed over to Clifton Village to meet friend Naomi for dinner. Fishers had invited me to sample their menu and I was delighted to accept. The menu at Fishers has a host of tempting fishy options, a couple of token meat and vegetarian options for those that way inclined.

We were warmly received by the restaurant and eagerly began glancing through the menu. There were many options that caught my eye but what I decided to go for in the end was the calamari with sweet chilli sauce followed by herb crusted cod fillet with spinach and puy lentils. Naomi opted for home cured Scottish smoked salmon with horseradish creme fraiche and a kilo of steamed mussels with white wine, cream and garlic for her main. Most mains come with a choice of new potatoes or chips as a side, unless stated otherwise. Whilst we waited we sipped at our rather enjoyable glasses of Pinot Grigio and nibbled at the freshly made bread.

Fishers Restaurant Bristol

Calamari with sweet chilli

Fishers Restaurant Bristol

The calamari was perfect a good portion with a crispy light coating. I personally thought the sweet chilli dip was a little too sweet for the calamari but it was just a small issue. Naomi's salmon was wonderful the quality of the salmon was excellent and the horseradish creme fraiche gave it an extra lift.
Fishers Restaurant Bristol
moules with cream, garlic and white wine
cod fillet on puy lentils

Fishers Restaurant Bristol

My fish was perfectly cooked with a crispy skin and the herbs and lemon made the whole dish wonderfully fresh. Naomi was delightedly making her way through the kilo of mussels plenty of cream and garlic sauce to mop up with some of the bread. We were both really impressed with the flavours of the mains. The one thing that I was disappointed in was the chips. They were quite dry tasting and floury so I left most of them to concentrate on the citrussy lentils below my cod fillet. We still had room for pudding so I ordered one of my all time favourite desserts, sticky toffee pudding with ice cream and Naomi had a scoop of elderflower sorbet.

Fishers Restaurant Bristol

Oh my word. This was quite simply the best sticky toffee puddings I have had in years. Super soft and sticky with a lovely toffee sauce I would return just for this alone. We left Fishers nicely full having been well fed. Fishers offers some great fish dishes, some classic some a bit different but what you can be assured of is a good meal. The offer a early evening deal 5.30 - 6.30 you can have two courses for £9.50, this is also available at lunch. Although our meal at Fishers was complimentary it did not impact my opinion or the outcome of this review. We were so pleased with the service we left a tip on what the bill would have been. To see what else Fishers have to offer check out their website.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Three Course Dining at The Square

Just before we jetted off to Budapest we were invited to sample the new menu at the Square. I had not been to the Square in some time, probably about 4 years in fact. The Square is a private members club but the restaurant is open to the public, as long as you sign in at the door. They have smartened up the place a bit since I was last here, it is more welcoming and the staff who greeted us were friendly.

The Square Bristol

The dining rooms at the Square are beautiful. Long tables and candelabras dotted around the place make for a relaxed atmosphere. As for the new Spring menu. First impressions were good. The menu is a modern British one with lots of classic combinations. For our starters we decided to opt for the Wiltshire bred pork belly with pressed ham hock and pickled vegetables and the wild mushroom soup with truffle and a poached egg. As for the mains Rich picked the 8oz rib-eye steak with triple cooked chips and myself, the Upper Wraxall lamb, two ways with spinach puree and pommes mousseline plus a port jus. We also picked side orders of asparagus and creamy leeks.

The Square Bristol

The Square Bristol

The Square Bristol

My soup was wonderfully earthy and rich. I was impressed, definitely up there for mushroom dishes I've had before. the egg in the centre just added to the creaminess. The only slight let down was the bread, it was nice enough but nothing over whelming. Rich loved the pork belly it was juicy and the flavours all worked together nicely.
The Square Bristol

The Square Bristol

The Square Bristol

The Square Bristol

My lamb dish was great. The lamb belly fell apart and was well seasoned. The meat was full of flavour and went perfectly with the glass of Malbec I had chosen to go with it. The pommes mousseline was rich and creamy and the vegetables were cooked properly with a slight crunch to them. The only slight problem was the rump was a little too underdone in parts for me, yes I like pink lamb but this was boardering on very rare indeed, so I left a little end bit of that.

The creamy leeks were very tasty and buttery but the dish was so huge we shouldn't have ordered too sides.  Rich enjoyed his steak said it was well cooked and juicy and the asparagus was full of flavour. I tried one of his chips and it was so huge, a breeze block of potato but with a fluffy centre. I could have built a delicious potato brick house to hide from the world in with these chips.

We hardly had room for pudding but I had spotted something on the dessert menu that ticked all my boxes. Creme brulee with rhubarb and ginger and spiced shortbread. Rich decided to test out the selection of cheese.
The Square Bristol

The Square Bristol

Rich enjoyed his selection of cheeses and the crackers were a nice quality. It is hard to get a cheese board wrong to be honest. My creme brulee was tasty but the rhubarb was too sweet it would have been great to have that sharper contrast, The shortbread was nice and gingery in flavour but overall the biscuits were a little dry and floury for my taste.

There were a few tiny little things that weren't 100% but overall we had a great meal at the Square and the staff were wonderful. The food definitely deserves more people visiting the restaurant. When we were there it was quite quiet and the people who were eating seemed to mainly be hotel guests. It is a shame because the food and atmosphere equal a nice evening out, people of Bristol, if you haven't had a chance check out the Spring menu at the Square give it a go. To find out more visit their website.

This meal was complimentary in return for a review, it did not impact my opinion. Rich and I decided to leave a 15% on what our bill would have been to thank the staff for the evening. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Testing Out Wriggle at Steak of the Art

Ever since I switched to an iPhone I have been putting the Wriggle app to the test. Wriggle is an app on iOS and Android that brings daily local deals from high quality independent restaurants. It helps restaurants conserve waste in real time by advertising deals that are local to you. You can leave your meal plans in the hands of the Wriggle gods to decide what you are going to eat for lunch or dinner. With new restaurants being signed up all the time the daily list keeps on growing.  I have been enjoying Bagel Boy and Yume for lunch quite a bit as they are closest to my flat and frequently on Wriggle. The guys at Wriggle wanted to give me some credit to test Wriggle on a place I'd not tried before, so I chose Steak of the Art. Two Steak and chips plus a sauce for £18. The app is easy to use you just click what deal you want and the amount and process the payment, and you are given a code to show the staff at your selected restaurant.

Steak of the Art is squirrelled away down on Cannon's Way and reached the restaurant soaking wet after being caught in an aggressive downpour. We arrived and were told there would be an hour wait for a table, which was a bit confusing but we sat down in some comfy arm chairs ready to order a drink whilst we waited. Steak of the Art offer a selection of cocktails as well as the usual beers, wines and some cider.  We were about to order when we were told there was actually a table available so we followed the waitress to the main dining area. Steak of the Art's selling point is their commitment to 'funky' interior and decor, There are paintings and pieces of art available for purchase as well as the pieces in each area being for sale, such as the furnishings. Steak of the Art is a restaurant gallery, which is a little different. The type of art is pretty commercial, lots of eye catching colours and pop culture references so there will be something for most people.

We sat down at a high booth overlooked by a large metal bull head. Rich ordered Bristol Beer factory beer and I went for a glass of Malbec. We also decided to opt for two starter plates so I ordered buffalo chicken wings with blue cheese dip and Rich chose the chorizo and smoked sausage on ciabatta. We also decided to both add a side of rocket and parmesan salad to our steaks for a bit of colour and freshness.

Steak of the Art Bristol

Steak of the Art Bristol

Rich found the meat on the ciabatta to be really flavoursome but the ciabatta had not been toasted and was too soft to hold the sauce and meat without disintegrating. My chicken wings had been quickly fried to give the extra texture, as per buffalo style, but they didn't really taste that chickeny. The dip was really wonderful though a good sharp strong kick of blue cheese much punchier than a lot of blue cheese dips you come across. This should be offered as an option for the steak as well in my opinion. On to the main event.
Steak of the Art Bristol

Steak of the Art Bristol

We did not have to wait too long before our rump steaks rocked up with a healthy portion of thick triple cooked chips, peppercorn sauce and rocket salad. The steak was cooked as we ordered  so my medium rare had a good pink colour running through it and was really juicy. Rump is not my favourite cut of steak but this one had lots of flavour. The star of the show were the chips. Crunchy and fluffy these were seriously moreish. The only let down was the salad, it looked a little sorry for itself and had too much parmesan compared to the amount of leaves.

A tasty experience at Steak of the Art. Was it my favourite steak? No but it was tasty and with Wriggle you can get it at a bargain price. The app offers great value at some fantastic Bristol restaurants but you can also find Wriggle offering deals for many Brighton restaurants as well, so spread the word if you know any friends down there or are visiting the quirky city yourself. To find out more about Steak of the Art check out their website.  Wriggle kindly supplied the credit for two steak deals, any drinks and extras we paid for on top of this, my opinion was not impacted and this blog remains as impartial as ever. Want to try Wriggle for yourself? Download the app and with my code ZKJXKA you can get £3 off your first Wriggle, happy Wrigglin'.