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…

Advertisements

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….

20170914_213920

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.

 

20170914_180856

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.

20170914_181844

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.

20170914_181749

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.

 

BRISTOL IN THE SKY (WITH COCKTAILS)

It’s 9.30pm on a still and clear Wednesday night when we pull up close to the towering crane currently occupying Bristol’s Waterfront Square. Mr TGE shoots me a concerned look, “are you sure you want to do this..?” I squint up at the top of the crane, where the most exclusive table in Bristol is currently dangling 100ft up and give a slightly-more-confident-than-I’m-feeling nod. “Absolutely! I bet it doesn’t even feel that high when you’re up there..” I offer, as I trot off to find out just how wrong I am.

20170906_210554

My table for the evening

Bristol in the Sky is one of the hottest new tickets in town and offers a variety of foodie delights from such Bristol favourites as Rosemarino’s, Henry’s, Romy’s Kitchen and Swoon to name a few. Tickets are on sale for events from the 7th – 12th September and offer a choice of breakfast, lunch, gelato, pie, dinner or cocktails in the sky (prices range from £50 – £150). You can book tickets HERE. So when I was asked if I fancied coming along to try out a cocktail or two with the wonderful Her Majesty’s Secret Service it was an offer I couldn’t refuse….

I did ask Mr TGE if he fancied coming along too but he went a little bit pale and asked me if I remembered the Eiffel tower. Swallowing my snigger I agreed it was probably best this was a lone mission; back in the early days of the TGE household in an effort to win ALL OF THE GIRLFRIEND POINTS I organised a surprise weekend away to Paris for Mr TGE’s birthday. It was a flurry of wine, delicious food and strolling along achingly beautiful Paris boulevards, so lovely! Well nearly all lovely until we reached the top  of the Eiffel Tower and saw the dazzling view of Paris in autumn sunshine stretched out before us. Sighing contentedly I turned to Mr TGE who was curiously no longer there… Looking around I spotted him ashen face and plastered rigidly against the central support beam, breathing rather heavily. After a few quick (incredibly tense) selfies, we agreed maybe it was time to go down…

So, cocktails in the sky, probably not up his street. But as it turns out, totally up mine! Arriving into the plush champagne reception there was an excited crowd of bloggers and writers eager to begin their journey. We could see the dinner table (catered by Menu Gordon Jones, apparently he did something fabulous with eel but I never found out what) above our heads preparing to descend and a thrill of anticipation ran through the crowd.

AirBrush_20170906233004

First came a little bit of housekeeping between champagnes (or the more bump friendly soft drink options) however. You need to check your bag into the cloakroom, you’re allowed to take your phone up with you but nothing bulkier than that. Next, a quick trip to the loo, there’s no options once you’re up there! Lastly (and especially if you’re doing a dinner or evening trip) make sure you take a warm jacket with you. We were lucky that it was such a still night but the staff warned us that the wind can get a bit nippy. The  final item on the do list was a quick safety briefing (essentially don’t try and strap yourself into the seat as you’ll do it wrong, let the staff do it. Oh, and try not to drop anything once you’re up there!) and before I knew it, it was time to go!

It feels a bit like being strapped into a rollercoaster but even more so – you’re securely fastened into the large padded seat and have a small platform to rest your feet on but other than that you’re dangling! A few nervous and excited glances were exchanged before, with a small jolt, we were up, up and away!

20170906_223014

Now, Bristol is a beautiful city at the best of times but I was honestly blown away by what an incredible view we had. As there are no walls or floor to speak of at the sky table you have a totally uninterrupted view across the city and at night the sparkling lights of the harbourside glitter across the water. It was absolutely breathtaking! But we weren’t there just for the view, no no! We had cocktails (mocktails in my case) to drink! Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of Bristol’s best ‘secret’ cocktail bars with many fun quirky details. I do enjoy a bar that requires you to enter through a telephone box, so expectations were high. Luckily, we were not disappointed. Representing HMSS were Lucas and Ben (the ‘fun and fit ones’ I had been assured on the ground. No offence to the other HMSS bar staff, I’m sure you’re lovely too) who were standing by to get the night started in the most intriguing way. Handing out individually addressed airmail envelopes to each of us containing a mystery bottle, we were introduced to the ‘Mile High Club’ (stop it, all of you!), a beautiful light fizzing glass of lime, honey, prosecco and Greek Masitha! Although I had the mocktail version of this I can honestly say I didn’t feel hard done by at all – it was absolutely delicious and looked just like the real thing so I didn’t feel left out. Bristol seems to have a bit of mocktail aversion, the closest I’ve found in most places is an orange and lemonade to be honest, so it was a real treat so have something quite so special.

Playing it cool…

Helping myself to plenty of nibbles (apologies to the lovely Matt who I sat next to, I definitely ate your share) and sipping my drink, I took in the spectacular surroundings. A cocktail at 100ft sounds like a gimmick and I had been convinced it would be, but it really is so much more than that, it honestly felt like a truly special and unique experience. You can turn your chair round a fair amount  (hello dangling feet…) to improve even further on the view and the crane rotates the table every now and again so that everyone gets a chance to check out the vista from all angles. Gazing out over Bristol my attention was brought back to the table as it was time to crack on with cocktail number 2… and this time it was up to us to mix it!

Placed in front of us were bespoke airplane trays with an array of tiny bottles filled with what looked like various potions. Intrigued, we tucked in to ‘Trayviation’, following the guide to create our own cocktail. The boozy version of this contained Bombay Sapphire gin, marachino liquor a palma violet type spirit as well a cherry to finish the whole thing off! My gin was swapped for tonic and I had a little green bottle of pepper-minty potion rather than violet but other than that my instructions were the same. Armed with our own cocktail shakers, stirrers and ice buckets we crafted our own little works of art (well.. ish). I was actually rather proud of mine as I remembered a Mr TGE tip to wipe the rim of the glass with my lemon rind and then gently curve it over so that you can smell it when you take a sip. It was also fairly pretty as well as being totally delicious. Although these cocktails were specially crafted just for Bristol in the Sky I might have to pop by HMSS and request one of these to be whipped up, it was absolutely gorgeous.

AirBrush_20170906232654

All too soon (but was probably somewhere between 45 mins – 1hour) we felt a little jolt and realised our time in the sky was over, it was time to head back down to earth. I once again proved how incredibly graceful I am by promptly falling into the arms of the man who unstrapped me (in my defense those seats are pretty high if you’re 5’3”!) which caused a raised eyebrow. “Good cocktails then?” he asked. They absolutely were.

AirBrush_20170906232804

A big thank you to the Bristol in the Sky and Her Majesty’s Secret Service teams for such a special evening.

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.