CHOMP

On occasion, we at TGE towers don’t just go out for dinner; we go out for a show too! It was on a whim (and luckily it turns out, with a substantial Travelzoo discount) that Mr TGE picked up a couple of tickets for the multi-award winning ‘Slava’s snow show’ promising magic, wonder and Christmas whimsy at the Bristol Hippodrome. There’s a whole host of ‘pre-theatre’ speed dinners on offer near the Hippodrome but we decided to shun all of them in favour of trying out somewhere we’d had our eye on for a little while – Chomp.

Located discreetly out of the way on St. Nicholas Street, Chomp started life as a pop-up restaurant before setting up a permanent residence as a ‘modern British steakhouse’ with the emphasis squarely on meat and bourbon. The menu is split into ‘steak or ‘not steak’ (by which they mean burgers) alongside a powerful selection of Malbec or bourbon & rye. This is so far up my street it’s difficult to put into words, though admittedly less preggo-friendly than is ideal at the moment.

We pre-booked a table for 6pm which of course we were early for as I inherited a crippling fear of being late from the P-Rents. We’re those people that are there the full 3 hours before a flight leaves, even if it’s just to Europe. Mr TGE has often sat, bleary eyed at arse o’clock at Bristol Airport on his 3rd coffee while I chirp brightly that, “isn’t it nice to be here so early, no need to rush!” Mothership, I know you’re proud of me for this.  On this particular freezing night it did mean that we were shivering on the doorstep of Chomp before the doors were even open… nothing wrong with being keen though eh? Bang on 6pm a very lovely waiter opened the door to usher us into the warm. Well, it was warmer than outside but the heating clearly hadn’t kicked in yet so we struggled to thaw out. Although the restaurant was empty for the first few minutes it quickly began filling up with a few walk-ins, the last of whom were only just squeezed in due to the amount of pre-booked tables. Definitely one to reserve.

Lovely Waiter talked us enthusiastically through the menu and was especially animated about the special which was a blue cheese burger… though he did notice bump and quickly moved on to more preggo-friendly options. Mr TGE decided to try an old fashioned cocktail served ‘sweet and smooth’ (£8) with Maker’s Mark and orange bitters – seemed rude not to in a bourbon bar. I had a good old sniff of it and it certainly smelled gorgeous but obviously I stuck to soft drinks.

Chomp 3

Steaks are split into ‘soft & tender’, ‘juicy & fatty’ and ‘lean and beefy’ and although I was tempted by the ribeye (juicy & fatty for the win) I just can’t bear a well cooked steak so have put that on the back burner until rare meat is back on the menu. Instead we checked out the ‘not steak’ option of burgers (there is one veggie burger option here made with a spicy bean burger). Served with fries and slaw we both opted for the House Classic (£11) which Lovely Waiter advised was usually served medium pink. Mr TGE was fine with that, while I requested mine to be well done. We were pretty tempted to try the black pudding beignets (£6) from the starters but decided to be restrained (pfft) and just stick to a side order of onion rings (£3.50). There was also the option of ordering a side of steak, which again is just so far up my street it’s untrue. Who doesn’t want steak with a side of steak??

The food arrived and looked incredibly appetising, these guys clearly take their burgers seriously. The fries were really well seasoned and nice and crisp. The slaw I could take or leave but it was nice to have something a bit fresher on the plate. The burger was clearly the star of the show with parmesan mayo, a thick juicy beef patty, American mustard, ketchup and pickles. I’m not always the biggest burger fan but this was exceptionally tasty and I wolfed half of it down in record time. The cheeze oozed perfectly and the brioche bun kept things from getting too messy. However it was only when I had reached halfway through that I noticed that the patty was cooked as standard – medium pink. I can see why, it was bloody lovely cooked that way but it’s always a little annoying to have your meat cooked differently to how it was ordered. Lovely Waiter appeared to check how things were so I did have the opportunity to say something but, in for a penny, in for a pound, I decided not to faff with sending it back and instead decided to enjoy a slightly naughty treat. Talking of naughty treats… Those. Onion. Rings. They were more bangle sized than rings, proper whopping slices of onion with a sinful crispy batter coating. They should come with everything.

Chomp 1

Chomp 2

When Lovely Waiter arrived to clear the plates I did let him know that the burger hadn’t been cooked through as requested and he looked so disappointed I thought he might cry. He immediately offered a complimentary dessert by way of apology, and much as I had been eying up the banana chocolate cake, we decided to decline as the meal had been delicious and incredibly filling. I agreed to have my arm twisted and compromised on taking away a chocolate bar (£2.50). Of course, not just any chocolate bar… this was made by the chocolate fairies at Zara’s chocolate on North Street. Made of Venezuelan bittersweet dark chocolate and mandarin it was maybe the classiest chocolate bar I’ve ever tried – apparently it goes very well with bourbon.

Chomp 4

So overall although a slight hiccup with the cooking, Chomp was a winner for us. I have a sneaky feeling we’ll be back next year for the full experience…

Oh and Slava’s snow show (or shit show as Mr TGE renamed it)? It’s a show that only gets 1 star or 5 star reviews, there’s not a whole lot of feeling in between. Without wishing to spoil it for anyone it opens with a desperate looking Russian clown slowly putting a noose around his neck and things didn’t seem to get anymore cheerful than that…  we cut our losses and left at the interval. I’ve heard the ending is spectacular and I’m sure it is (traumatised children aside) but an hour of slow moving sad Russian clowns with accompanying jazz was enough for us.

 

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YAKINORI

Perched at the top of Park Street, the recently opened Yakinori is one of the newest restaurants on Bristol’s scene. An independent (we love an independent in Bristol) taking the place of where a Starbucks used to be, Yakinori offers a vast range of Japanese dishes for lunch and dinner. We popped along one chilly night to see what they had to offer…

The restaurant is divided into two parts with a takeaway counter at the entrance offering readymade sushi boxes etc. for lunch  and further back tables and chairs for a sit down dinner. It’s bright and colourful and features an open kitchen in the centre so you can see the chefs hard at work. I loved this as; 1. Who doesn’t love a good nose? And 2. The smell from the sizzling woks was incredible! There are seats along the kitchen counter if you really want to feel like part of the action.

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We kicked things off with an Ashai super dry beer for Mr TGE (deemed too dry to have on its own but perfect with food) and a bubble tea for me. The bubble tea craze rather passed me by so I had to shyly admit to the waitress that I didn’t quite know how to order one. With a bit of assistance I plumped for a fruity passion fruit green tea with blueberry juice balls served cold. Admittedly it didn’t photograph particularly well but it was rather delicious, sweet and refreshing.

We studied the impressively large menu before deciding on a couple of starters – shichimi chilli calamari (£5.57) for Mr TGE and ebu katsu tiger prawns (£6.50) for me. Served sizzling hot both starters were a generous portion and we felt good value for money. My prawns were plump and tasty, though I did find the panko breadcrumb batter slightly greasy. The tonkatsu sauce drizzled over the prawns was lovely but subtle and I ended up raiding the sweet chili sauce that came with Mr TGE’s calamari to add an additional kick. Mr TGE’s calamari was declared an absolute success – the batter was incredible light and delicate, not greasy at all. The squid was fresh and cooked just the right amount so it didn’t wander into chewy territory. We both absolutely loved the dish of fresh chili sauce it was served with, so much so that the kitchen brought us another one!

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Juicy prawns

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We moved swiftly onto the main courses – so swiftly in fact that they were delivered the second the starters were finished. Mr TGE was thrilled by this as he was ravenous (despite the generously sized starter) and was also delighting  in his new found appreciation for pickled ginger (supplied on each table) so wanted to keep that culinary adventure going. I probably could have done with a 5 minute break and had I realised the food would have come that quickly, would have requested one. Still, I didn’t feel too put out once I saw the beautiful sleek bento box presented before me…

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I knew the second I looked at the menu that I would be trying a bento box, I love them. They’re the ultimate meal for someone who inevitably gets food envy as you get a bit of everything!  There’s something just that extra bit special about having a special presentation box for your dinner as well.  There’s a choice of 5 different types at Yakinori and I opted for the ‘beef yakiniku bento’ (£14.99) featuring stir fried beef and vegetables in teriyaki sauce, kabocha pumpkin, mixed sushi, Japanese pickles and sticky rice. It’s also served with miso soup which I happily slurped down and was pleased to find a hearty serving of wakame seaweed and tofu underneath the cloudy surface. The beef was beautifully cooked and full of teriyaki flavour while the vegetables retained the right amount of crunch. The sticky rice was lovely and light – just the right amount of ‘sticky’ to be scooped up fairly easily with chopsticks, even by an amateur. I absolutely loved the kabocha pumpkin – essentially Japanese pumpkin croquettes in crispy panko breadcrumbs  – which were sweet and moreish. The sushi was also very tasty and I’m already planning to go back for a full platter at some stage! I asked the waitress before ordering if the fish used in the sushi had been frozen to -20C at least 24 hours before use (and therefore safe for pregnant ladies as any possible parasites are killed in the freezing process) and, not unfairly, she wasn’t entirely sure. She immediately checked with the manager who came over to personally explain the freezing process to me and the strict hygiene regulations so I was fully confident to order. Well done team!

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Mr TGE was similarly impressed with his own main course of orange teriyaki salmon (£14.50) which was fresh and full of flavour. The orange flavour in the teriyaki came through nicely and again the vegetables kept the right amount of bite. The salmon portion was very generous and flaked apart pleasingly, I had a few mouthfuls and would be tempted to order it in future.

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We finished out meals and sat, slightly food dazed, steeling ourselves to head back out into the cold night. The staff chatted happily to the quickly filling up tables around us and the manager made a point of saying hello to everyone. They’ve got it right with the service level – it’s warm and welcoming but not intrusive which gives a relaxed atmosphere. We briefly considered the desert menu but our appetites had been well and truly defeated by this stage, perhaps next time!

 

Please note: this meal was received free of charge but this didn’t impact my opinion and I was under no obligation to write a positive review. No review is shared with the venue before publication.

 

THE PREGNANT FOODIE GUIDE

Good morning and welcome to this early Sunday morning edition of TGE! Why quite so early you ask? Well the tiny ninja I’m currently growing has been karate chopping me in the bladder because clearly he thinks SLEEP IS FOR LOSERS. He will be reminded of this opinion when he is a teenager of course. And I know, I know, I can hear you all helpfully pointing out that these sleepless night are  “all good practice for when the baby arrives!”. Thanks, you well-rested bastards, I’ll resist the urge to stab you in the face with a rusty fork for now and agree that, yes it probably is but no need to sound quite so chirpy about it.

So with a few more hours than I usually have in the day/night to fill, I thought I would write a little handy guide for handling the foodie preggo in your life.

DIET ADVICE: THE NAUGHTY LIST  

WHAT NOT TO SAY:

  • Any variation of shrieking “you can’t eat that!!” at a pregnant woman. Do you know why? Because she sodding knows. Honestly, there are whole books about what you’re meant to eat, websites full of advice, your midwife tells you at length, you’re showered with informative leaflets and if you have a handy app it will send you daily reminders about what is/isn’t safe. I was recently standing near a piece of brie and had a helpful “YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO EAT THAT!!” exclaimed at me from across the room. I resisted the urge to charge bump first at full speed with flailing arms into this helpful person whilst bellowing “I know, that’s why I wasn’t eating it, you lemon!” because I understand that people are only trying to be helpful. However, unless you see a preggo doing something genuinely dangerous, perhaps she has confused a delicious scone for a venomous snake and is clearly in imminent danger if she eats it, don’t get involved. Even if she is in proximity to soft cheese.

WHAT TO SAY:

  • “Are you allowed to eat this?” before cooking or ordering food for a preggo. Look, it’s confusing and health advice changes fairly regularly about what is/isn’t safe so of course if you’re cooking you want to make sure it’s ok to eat before you start. This is thoughtful and she’ll appreciate the effort you’re going to. Maybe don’t introduce any ‘surprise’ ingredients as well just to be on the safe side, especially in the first trimester when nausea can be at its worse. For about the first 12 weeks the only thing I really wanted to eat was plain chicken and plain rice – I ordered that at a local restaurant and it came coated in dill which resulted in a subtle little sob at the table whilst scraping it all off…

 

DIET ADVICE: THE NICE LIST

WHAT NOT TO SAY:

  • “You should eat lots of [insert healthy but dull/unpleasant thing here].

A similar theme to the above so say it with me, she sodding knows. No honestly, they really bang on (rightfully of course) about diet in the early stages and if the preggo in your life is anything like me they spent the first 12 weeks pretty much googling any ingredient just to check if it’s on the naughty or nice list. “Leafy greens are a great source of folic acid” can be cheerfully twittered at preggos all you like but don’t be surprised if all you get in response from her is a snarl, a tightened grip on your Terry’s chocolate orange whilst she attacks you with kale.

 

WHAT TO SAY:

  • “Would you like some of my Terry’s chocolate orange [or other food of choice}?”.

Alright, I’ll admit this wasn’t one of my proudest moments but recently Mr TGE had the flu  – actual proper can’t move type real flu – which meant his appetite pretty much vanished. Anyone who knows Mr TGE knows that this means it was serious stuff. In order to try and tempt him into eating anything I bought a selection of treats I know he likes for him to nibble on – the jewel in this culinary crown being a Terry’s chocolate orange. Mr TGE managed one segment, offered me one which I declined because I don’t like orange flavoured chocolate, before giving in and going to bed for an early night. This, dear reader, left me unattended with the chocolate orange in question which was no problem because as I’ve already said, I don’t like them. Except, I was quite hungry and the kitchen seemed quite far away. And what kind of food writer am I if I’m not willing to try new things? So, in the spirit of journalistic integrity I thought it only right to try a piece to confirm my initial suspicions that I didn’t like it. Except…actually…it was quite nice. So nice that I definitely needed to try a bit more… maybe a little more… ok well that’s half the orange gone. I wrapped the remainder up and popped it back in the cupboard ready for Mr TGE whenever he fancied a bit more.  Reader, I’ve never seen Mr TGE more outraged than discovering his remaining half of that chocolate orange. Indignant howls of betrayal and accusations wailed through the house. Protestations of the chocolate somehow being “his” bounced off the walls while my explanation that technically as we’re married everything is half mine and actually really technically I had been the one to buy it in the first place, fell on deaf ears. How unreasonable eh?

So I think as you can clearly see the moral of this story is don’t leave chocolate near a preggo and expect it to still be there in the morning…

 

chocolate

THE GIGGLING SQUID

It’s that time of year when everyone is ill but we all pretend we aren’t. We battle into the office, noses streaming, coughing over each other and sniffing into hot lemsips insisting that we’re fine and we’re just a little under the weather. Mr TGE and I are no exception, except of course that I don’t do the pretending I’m fine bit. One of the only things that improves my mood when I’m ill is complaining loudly and often  to anyone within earshot about just how ill I am and how dreadful it is. We get our kicks where we can. I complained so successfully during this recent cold that 15 minutes after whinging there was a knock at the door – one of my lovely BridesBoys had Deliveroo’d a large box of cakes from Pinkmans bakery to me in place of traditional medicine. Hurrah for the restorative power of brownies!

As we were both feeling a lot better, but no so much better that we actually wanted to cook, Mr TGE insisted on a drizzly Sunday night that we pop out for a spontaneous dinner. We haven’t spent much time in Clifton recently so decided to drive up the village and see what took our fancy. In search of something warming and hearty we decided on The Giggling Squid on Princess Victoria Street for some Thai food – perfect for a wet Bristol night. The Clifton branch in one of over 20 restaurants in the Giggling Squid chain and prides itself on delivering “staggeringly good Thai food” according to its website…

GS restaurant

The restaurant was exceptionally busy when we arrived and we were lucky to bag one of the only available tables. Unfortunately for us it was next to a fairly strong draft but as there wasn’t anywhere else we could move to there wasn’t much we could do. Service was efficient and polite, although staff did seem a little overwhelmed by the number of customers. The restaurant did have a lovely buzzy atmosphere however and the décor and lighting made for a cosy experience on a cold night.

To start I ordered a ‘Mango Passion’ juice which was pleasant enough but overpriced for what it was at £3.95 while Mr TGE opted for a Chang beer, also £3.95. We perused the menu which was full of tempting options including curries, seafood, noodle dishes and stir fries –  we decided we needed to try starters as well as main courses! I chose the ‘yummy duck spring rolls’ for £7.25 and Mr TGE opted for the salt and pepper squid, also £7.25. My spring rolls had a generous filling of tender shredded duck  mixed with carrots, celery and spring onion in crisp thai pastry. They were served piping hot with a small side dish of hoisin sauce which wasn’t quite enough for the 4 large spring rolls but was delicious. I was very impressed with the size of the dish though and had to recruit Mr TGE to help me finish it! His starter of squid was equally generous and the batter was light and nicely seasoned from the salt and pepper. The dish also came with a saucer of what looked like sweet and sour sauce but was actually a deceptively hot chili sauce. I personally found it quite unpleasant and we both found it far too hot for the delicate squid flavour.

GS duck rolls

GS squid

Moving on to our main course, we both opted for the chicken massaman curry. When I was out in Thailand for 6 weeks a few years ago I pretty much lived off of it. I absolutely loved the gently spiced creamy coconut flavour so I find it hard to turn down the opportunity to have it here when I get the chance. The curry dishes don’t automatically come with rice, which I always find slightly annoying, especially when, as in this case, the rice was £3 to add on.

GS curry

The curry arrived in bubbling cauldrons giving out a tantalising aroma. The sauce was rich and delicious with plenty of gentle, spicy flavour. It was the perfect winter warmer dish with a good helping of chicken and well cooked potatoes, absolutely delicious and I would certainly order it again. Less impressive was the serving of the sticky rice which was served in a crumpled plastic bag, crushed at the bottom of the little wicker basket it arrived in. I’ve never been served sticky rice quite like that (certainly not in Thailand!) and it was pretty unattractive. The rice had also moved over from sticky territory into completely solid so it was difficult to tear apart to share. It was however pretty filling and so even though it was a small portion, was fine for both of us.

GS rice

Overall a lovely meal with good service, if a few niggles.  So was it “staggeringly good Thai food” as the website boasts? In my opinion, no. But it was pretty bloomin’ tasty and I would absolutely go back, especially for those duck rolls.

P.S – We headed over to The Albion pub round the corner finish the night and enjoy the cosy fire (and look longingly at the prosecco deal…)

Albion

THE LOVAT

It was Mr TGE’s birthday week and as is traditional we flew off on holiday to help him escape the grinding panic that grips every year as he realises with startling clarity that second by second, precious life is ticking by in an unstoppable march towards the grave…

Personally, I’m a big fan of birthdays. I like cake, I like balloons and I bloomin’ love presents – hurrah for lovely birthdays! Mr TGE, not so much… unless we’ve discovered, he’s on holiday! Due to the continuation of the baby growing (and me looking more and more weeble-esque) we decided this year to keep things a little closer to home, so jetted off to exotic Inverness to spend a week in the Scottish Highlands.

It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, mainly because I’ve seen Outlander and I’ve been led to believe that this a fairly typical example of a Scotsman…

Outlander 2014

And of course another birthday tradition in the TGE household is to be treated to a fabulous meal –  there’s pretty much no problem, even facing your own mortality, which can’t be fixed with a good meal. After hearing rave reviews we decided to try The Brasseries at The Lovat in Fort Augustus,  a 4 star hotel close to Loch Ness with a history that stretches back to the Jacobites. It is also home to Station Road Restaurant which receives equally glowing reviews, offering a tasting menu and matching wine flight. Once the baby growing is done it’s something we would definitely want to head back to try…

If you ignore the rather wink-wink nudge-nudge welcome sign which made me want to punch myself in the face a bit (“Loving it at the Lovat!” in Ann Summers hues of black, pink and white with a scattering of love hearts. It does look just a little like a swingers hotel from the outside…)  then the Lovat is a welcoming site. With shabby chic décor, a tempting food menu and an even more tempting cocktail menu, it’s clear to see why The Brasseries is so popular, pre-booking is advised.  Less formal than Station Road Restaurant, the Brasserie puts a strong emphasis on quality service which was evident from the moment you arrive – staff wait until the minute before you’re due for your booking to finish setting up with your table with a large decanter of cold water and pre pouring your first glass.

After being warmly welcomed we settle in to peruse the menu and order a couple of drinks. I opt for a Shirley Temple from the mocktail list while Mr TGE starts strong with a Zombie which I’m told was a delight. Just to be on the safe side he pre-orders a glass of cabernet sauvignon to have with his main course at this point – always best to know that by the time you finish one drink you’ve got another of the way!  We kick things off with a couple of starters, I opt for the Shetland mussels steamed in white wine, garlic and cream and Mr TGE chooses venison bresaola with swede remoulade and roasted hazlenuts. The waitress assures me that the mussels will be thoroughly cooked to make sure they’re bump friendly, which was nice of her. Fresh warm bread arrives with salted butter and pesto to get our appetites going.

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Shortly after a huge steaming cauldron of mussels arrive, they’re fresh and plump with a generous pool of creamy, garlicky sauce. The smell is divine and I happily slurp my way through as many as I can manage. The portion is huge but I do my best and use the bread to mop up some of the delicious sauce, it was too good to waste! Mr TGE is equally pleased with his choice of venison (sadly not picture as it was devoured) which proves a lovely blend of salty, sweet and nutty flavours.

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The main courses looked equally good (the wine arrived right on time too)  – I had chosen the pot roast shoulder and leg of lamb with creamed barley, carrots and mustard. I’m a sucker for lamb and this was cooked beautifully, achingly soft and full of flavour. The barley was sweet and nutty which worked well with the rich indulgent mustard sauce. My only complaint (and not enough to say something) was that it was slightly cold – especially the lamb. Delicious, but would have preferred everything just a little bit warmer.

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Mr TGE was happily tucking into his main which was the special of the day – pork belly with black pudding and bacon and cabbage.  Well, why not? The black pudding was layered in strips throughout the pork which meant everything was moist and delicious with deep salty pork flavour. It was an incredibly rich and tasty dish which really packed a meaty punch and was declared an absolute winner.

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Because it’s the law that you must have pudding on your birthday we decided to opt for something light  – then quickly changed our minds because ‘trio of dark chocolate’ is available and what kind of monster says no to that? Because we’re not total animals, we agree to share one. To see the night off properly Mr TGE orders a lovely dessert wine which unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of. However, ordering a zombie, red wine followed by a dessert wine is sufficiently weird enough to draw the bartender over to meet whoever is ordering this concoction. The chaps bond over a passion for rum and cocktails – had we been staying in the area longer we would have definitely headed back to the bar on another night try out a few of the suggestions!

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The trio of dark chocolate arrived  – ice cream, fondant and mousse – and was beautifully presented, as the rest of the meal had been. However, unlike the rest of the meal I felt this was the only course which just didn’t have that flavour punch. The mousse was smooth and creamy, my favourite of the trio. Although the ice cream and the fondant were pleasant there just wasn’t the depth of flavour I had been expecting. It was rather nice when you had a bit of each of the trio at the same time and that definitely helped the flavour, but overall not enough chocolate for me…

We left very happy and very full – the staff were wonderful throughout the night, attentive without being overbearing with fantastic attention to detail. With a menu that good, it’s somewhere I’m absolutely sure we’ll return to.

 

P.S – Perhaps you fancy some music while you read food reviews? Of course you do! And what better to listen to than The Fathership’s band, The Bled, White and Blues! Yes that’s right, we don’t just write food reviews in this family, we’re also musical! I mean, not me, obviously, that’s why I write this and don’t have an album available on sound cloud, but he’s very good! You can check them out here https://soundcloud.com/user-105154741. Try listening and them not spending the rest of the day humming Thunder Road, I dare you.

 

 

ROOT: WAPPING WHARF

Root at the Wapping Wharf cargo development has a rather novel concept… it’s vegetables which are given top billing as main dishes while a smaller number of meat sides are available in a supporting role. Frankly I was a little dubious before arriving… I mean, how good can cauliflower really be? Certainly not better than a thick, juicy steak, amiright? So it was only when faced with finding a Monday night dinner spot to celebrate with a couple of vegetarian friends that I thought to try Root out for the first time.Root logo

I love the Wapping wharf development, even on a rainy windswept night (which it was) it’s a beautiful place to be. Each cargo unit glows a golden light out into the night, each one promising a different delight depending on what you’re in the mood for. Root occupies arguably the best spot on the top floor of the original cargo 1 development with a pretty spectacular view of the harbour. Previously operating as the Chicken Shed serving ‘ ethical posh fried chicken ’ (which had fairly mixed reviews.. ) things changed overnight in August as the team realised that either the ethics or the quality was going to have to give… Fried chicken gave way to vegetable power and the unit reopened as Root, with their focus very much on sustainability and ethical eating . I know that sounds rather W1A but it’s a tastier concept than it sounds, with ingredients locally sourced and grown. This means the menu changes fairly regularly to reflect what’s currently in season which is very Bristol and rather charming.

Inside the team have made the most of the space with a large central table, several tables for 4 and a long bar with stools stretching round the side of the container. We’re warmly greeted and after casting a glance at my fairly pregnant friend, we’re sensibly seated at one of the tables for 4, rather than perched on a bar stool. Water and menus are swiftly provided while the specials are pointed out to us. Perusing the menu we’re advised 2-3 (so that’ll be 3 then) dishes per person should do and to let them know just how vegetarian we are as some of the ingredients contain stealth meat (like Parmesan) but can be made full veggie. Luckily my dinner buddies are not phased when it comes to small plates menus and between the 3 of us we order nearly one of everything from the main menu, with one token meat dish (because, pork belly). I was tempted but resisted the cured mackerel with elderberries and the charred hispi cabbage with seaweed butter and radishes, however I don’t think we did badly. We ordered:

Grilled marrow with pine nut, parmesan and preserved lemons

Beetroot with hazelnut, blackberry and seaweed

Salt baked celeriac with girolle mushrooms and parsley

Gnocchi with parmesan and courgette

Pumpkin risotto with pumpkin seeds and pickled marrow

Roasted cauliflower steak with cashews

Heritage pink fir potatoes with salad cream and brown butter crumb

Pork belly with jus

Root

Arriving a dish at a time, our table was clustered with small plates brimming with promise and we happily tucked in. Each dish had a little twist to it which elevated it beyond the rather pragmatic menu description, which was a delight to stumble across. The crunch of the hazelnuts with the beetroot or the beautiful sharpness of the pickled marrow against the sweet, creamy pumpkin risotto was wonderful to discover. Each dish was vibrant, flavourful and to be honest, fun. The gnocchi were plump little clouds of potato which melted in your mouth, the salt baked celeriac proved dangerously moreish.

The standout dish for me however had to be the pumpkin risotto. Silky smooth and hearty it was a bowl of autumnal goodness that makes you glad to turn your back on summer. Frankly just writing about it makes me want to head back for another bowlful..

Root risotto

The only slightly disappointing dish, perhaps predictably, was the pork belly. Although the jus was gorgeous there wasn’t quite enough of it and I found the pork itself a little bland and under seasoned. Not actively bad, just nowhere near the level of the vegetable stars of the show. But, perhaps that’s exactly as it should be, Root knows what it’s about and there are plenty of other places in Bristol to go if your focus is on meat. My only other slight gripe (which I’m aware makes me sound ancient and not young/trendy blogger at all, but dammit it’s true) is how uncomfortable the bench seats got after a while. Sure, they look cool but leaning against metal pipes is just not as good as leaning against…say… a cushion. #Voteforcushions.

Root pork belly

Minor niggles aside, we found 8 dishes between 3 hungry ladies was plenty and we left full, happy and pleasantly surprised at the bill. Dishes range from £2- £8 so as well as tasty, it’s a fairly budget friendly option, double win! We were offered the dessert menu but as the gnocchi had successfully finished us off by this point we had to decline. Next time…

MRS POTTS CHOCOLATE HOUSE

The nights are drawing in, the leaves are turning red and there’s a definite nip in the air – that’s right, autumn is well and truly here. Well I for one say thank the bleedin’ lord for that! Awful, horrid, sticky, sweaty, uncomfortable summer is over and we can all put away those off the shoulder tops that were in fashion this year (which constantly threatened an escaped boob at any given moment) and embrace the knit wear, hurrah!

It was on a particularly autumnal night that I trotted along to the opening of Mrs Potts Chocolate House, replacing ‘The Teabirds’ at the bottom of Park Street in Bristol. Inspired by the chocolate houses of the 17th century (which was apparently a thing), Mrs Potts is a family run operation offering a range of chocolate based goodies (made in house) with an emphasis on premium ingredients. With flicking candles dotting each table, sugar in the air and the promise of enough chocolate to thrill your inner 5 year old,  I felt sufficiently cosy as I snuggled down and awaited the sugar rush.

Now, I’m nothing if not thorough, so I tried pretty much everything….

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Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, still warm from the oven, and the right amount of chewy were wonderful, a lighter start to the chocolate fest. Next came the lemon meringue slices which proved a huge hit with everyone on the table – zesty and fresh they were little flavour bombs. Chocolate and hazelnut slices were up next which were achingly rich and gooey, they would be perfect with a cup of tea on a rainy day.

 

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Next came the chocolate mousse dome, covered in a sleek shining chocolate coating. The mousse was light but still packed a chocolate punch. There were also flecks of something – biscuit? – throughout which was unexpected but really worked to add a different texture.

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Taking a slight break from the chocolate I tried a (still warm from the oven) madeline. Soft and moist it was buttery and delicious and the perfect dipping partner to my white hot chocolate chai cocoa. After that brief aside, I was ready to take on the showstoppers – the fondue followed by a brownie.

My. God. Why did fondue ever stop being a thing? It should absolutely still be a thing because this was just heaven on a plate. Presented with pools of dark and milk chocolate accompanied by a stack of marshmallows and strawberries, I knew I was in my happy place. The chocolate was warm and smooth, I particularly enjoyed the dark with the strawberries. The marshmallows didn’t seem to be overly popular with the others at my table but I loved them, light and fluffy but with a slightly crunchy topping. It was as I was cramming the last chocolate soaked marshmallow into my mouth that a very sweet member of staff chose to tell me about the wash station they have by the till – “for use of customers or staff if they need to wash some of the chocolate off…”. I nodded with all the dignity you can when you know you’re dripping chocolate and unable to speak due to an enthusiasm for marshmallows. Still, a place that expects its customers to need a quick wash down after a visit is  my kind of place, there’s no judgement there.

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Slightly delirious with sugar I rounded my night off with a brownie slice. I am a total sucker for a decent brownie and luckily for me, I wasn’t disappointed. Packed with nuts, chewy on the outside and gooey in the centre, this was a brownie to be reckoned with.

So would I go back? Absolutely. Sharing a fondue with friends or just popping in for a hot chocolate on a chilly evening seems to me like a very lovely way to spend your autumn. As a cherry on the top I would suggest to The Potts that they invest in some squashy (and probably wipe clean) armchairs; that would make the perfect nook where you could read a book with a steaming mug of hot chocolate.

Mrs Potts Chocolate House is now open and full opening hours can be found HERE

Please note: this experience was received free of charge but this didn’t impact my opinion and I was under no obligation to write a positive review. No review is shared with the venue before publication.