Merry Christmas TGE-ers! I hope you have all had a fabulous festive break and are now at least 50% Quality Street, I know I am. Christmas this year was spent at The Parentals, wedged into the comfiest seats while The Mothership swooped in with duck rolls, nibbles and (of course) chocolates at 5 minute intervals. A very merry Preggo Christmas indeed!
I’ve saved one of my favourite restaurants for the last TGE review of 2017; Bravas. A firm favourite for me and Mr TGE since it opened in 2012, Bravas is a handily located tapas bar on Cotham Hill with a warm and friendly atmosphere. Fine dining it ain’t but authentic it is, with staff taking trips to Spain to pick up new ideas and ingredients. Tables are pleasingly squashed together and plates are piled high on the tables giving a fantastically buzzy vibe without being crammed. There does seem to be an ongoing glitch with the online booking system however (and although several bar seats are kept free for walk ins, you really should book as it’s always busy) which has meant on several occasions our table seems to have disappeared…it’s always been resolved and sorted but would be good if this little bug could be sorted in 2018 once and for all.
So how to start? The wine list is impressive (but you don’t need to spend a fortune, the Albizu Tempranillo 2015 is gorgeous at a very reasonable £17.95) but the gin menu is hard to ignore. Served Spanish style (meaning a double unless you say otherwise) there is a wide selection of the best gins available with premium tonics if you really want to spoil yourself. The Bombay Sapphire with orange zest, lemon zest and flaked almonds (£7), served in a goblet is hard to beat and always a good place to start.
The food menu is split into nibbles, cured meats, vegetables, seafood and meat with prices ranging from around £2.50 – £8 per dish. The great thing about tapas is you can just order a few plates at a time to see how you go, ordering more plates if needed. Obviously we don’t do this, Mr TGE is Welsh and finds the idea of not ordering enough food panic inducing, we order as much as we can before the waiting staff gently suggest that that might be enough to be getting on with… Each dish arrives as it’s cooked so if you follow our lead and order basically one of everything you’ll find you’ve forgotten what you’ve ordered by the end and have inadvertently created your own mystery menu.
On this visit we tried:
Wild venison chorizo
Fried Aubergine with molasses (£1 is donated to Action Against Hunger every time this dish is ordered)
Roasted sweet potato & goats cheese salad
Salt grilled prawns
Chorizo cooked in cider (you can never have too much chorizo)
Braised Hereford ox cheek with celeriac puree
Spiced organic chicken livers with almonds.
As ever one of the standout dishes was the fried aubergine with molasses – try to find anyone who has eaten at Bravas and not ended up falling in love with this dish! It’s salty, sweet, crunchy and incredibly moreish. The charity donation that accompanies the dish is an extra nice touch.
My other highlights include the salt grilled prawns (so good I ended up ordering another one) – they’re whoppers and so juicy and plump. With a good squeeze of lemon and a hearty helping of salt they are absolutely delicious and I love the slurpy, messy eating of them using your hands. The couple on the table next to us appeared to be on a first date so I’m not sure how much they appreciated my enthusiasm but I was having a lovely time!
My other favourite (which I managed to eat with a little more dignity) was the sweet potato & goats cheese salad. It was so good I was temped to order another and would have done so if I could have found room – the cheese was gorgeously gooey and was perfect with the fudgy potato and slivers of red onion.
The chorizo in cider is always a winner, proud and plump little sausages glistening in their own rich spicy sauce! Mr TGE’s standout was the ox cheek with celeriac puree – soft and flavourful with a richness which was nap inducing. Mopping up the sauce with bread was the perfect end to the meal. Well, almost perfect, because of course there is a rather lovely desert and sherry menu to consider…
Because my Mama didn’t raise no quitter I heroically ordered a dessert, even after that amount of chorizo ( to be bump friendly I stuck to the cooked variety, but even so!) Flaming dishes of crema catalana had been delivered to tables nearby which looked spectacular but too ambitious for my appetite, so I opted for the salted chocolate truffles (£2.50) with a cortado to wash it down. Tiny but mighty those truffles pack a chocolatey punch and 2 is plenty.
P.S. – We made a happy little discovery in search of a pre-dinner cocktail/mocktail before arriving at Bravas in the form of the Clockwork Rose on St Stephen’s Street. Bristol’s only steampunk cocktail bar (I did not know this was a thing…) we enjoyed a sample of their festive ‘Christmas Carol’ themed menu. A t
Tiny Tim temperance cocktail for me and a Fezziwig’s Shindig for Mr TGE. I’ll be looking forward to going back and trying their new creations in 2018!