THE MALAGO FOR A SUNDAY ROAST

Now I hold my hands up on this one, I’ve actually reviewed The Malago before (which you can read here THE MALAGO) when we popped in for brunch shortly after they  opened and I loved it. We have meant to go back for dinner since then but the arrival of Baby TGE has kept us fairly busy, what with keeping him alive and all (shout out to all the new parents who long for their baby to sleep and then freak out at 3am when they actually do, so you poke them a little to check they’re OK and then they inevitably wake up and oh god why did you poke them…)

Anyway, I turned the big 3-0 and had a FABULOUS birthday lunch with friends at the Pump House, comprising of 10% steak and 90% prosecco. But why have one birthday lunch when you can have 2, especially when you’re not having to pay for it? So at the invitation of the parents we booked The Malago for Sunday lunch. Mr TGE and I have realised that we’re essentially now charging my parents an admission fee in the form of lunch to visit their Grandson but it turns out we’re sort of fine with that and as long as the (Grand)Mothership gets cuddles then so are they. Win.

As with our last visit we were warmly greeted by staff on arrival and settled down to peruse the menu. The Parents in their wisdom had already ordered some olives to nibble on (which I learned later weren’t actually on the menu at that point but the Mothership has a crafty knack of ordering things not on the menu… more on this later) which were chunky and lovely.  After the most minimal amount of arm-twisting from Mum we ordered a bottle of sauvignon blanc and decided upon our roast – we had a choice of beef, pork belly, chicken or a vegetarian/vegan roast. Displaying uncharacteristic restraint I ordered the chicken, while everyone else displayed a fabulous absence of restraint and ordered the pork belly.  Baby TGE chose this moment to utterly fall in love with our waitress and demonstrated his new ability to flirt. I’ll be honest, he’s not subtle as he wistfully stared at our waitress wherever she went pretty much for the duration of our meal (side note, if you’re that waitress do you do babysitting because this could just work out a treat)?

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The restaurant was buzzing and although on arrival the music was an odd selection of fairly loud busy music which we found difficult to hear each other over (oh GOD I’m so OLD) we were all relieved when it settled into something a more easy Sunday-esque. We were happily surprised when dainty teacups of carrot and parsnip soup were brought over to keep us going while we waited for our main courses, it’s little touches like these that make the Malago that little bit extra special. It was creamy and tasty and bearing in mind we had a non-soup eater with us (Mr TGE) even he happily finished his cup. That might have been because he had also ordered a rather delicious cocktail made from Chase marmalade vodka and consequently was in rather a merry mood!

Our roasts arrived piping hot and looking gorgeous, I had crackling envy immediately but being the birthday girl (and also, you know, just me) nicked a big bit from Mr TGE’s plate so I didn’t miss out. We all agreed it was some of the best crackling we’ve had at a restaurant and I could have ordered a whole side plate of it, it was perfectly crisp and salty. All of the roasts had a very generous amount of veg with it including potatoes, braised red cabbage, carrots, parsnips and topped with a whopping yorkshire pudding. The potatoes were particularly good being crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle, nothing worse than a hard roast potato. Mr TGE went to the (now closed) Townhouse restaurant on Whiteladies road for a roast and were given ONE roast potato to share between us… I had strong feelings about this. Portion size was certainly not an issue here however and we absolutely had our 5 a day! We were also given a large dish of cheesy leeks to share between us which were so naughty but so nice. My chicken was succulent and juicy, again a whopping portion. I wasn’t quick enough to get a taste of the pork belly itself but I was assured that it was blinkin’ delicious.

Now after a roast that size there’s no room for anything more, right? WRONG! Our plates were cleared by another lovely lady (who Baby TGE was keen on but still eyes for our original waitress I’m afraid) who my Mum managed to instantly become best friends with. During the chat she casually mentioned just how good the desserts were…never ones to shy away from a  challenge we thought it best to check out the menu. The men folk insisted that they were definitely far too full for desert, nope, no way, don’t want any, actually can you just bring an extra spoon…? The Mothership and I are made of far stronger stuff and ordered the chocolate tart and eton mess which the boys promptly announced they were sharing. Bastards. Luckily our waitress was on hand to bring some plastic baby cutlery for the boys which was hilarious until we realised that the baby spoons were actually bigger than the real ones! It was at this point that Mothership activated her ‘secret menu’ mode and ordered a French coffee, which they don’t offer. Except in her case when they happily shrugged and gave it their best shot – coffee, cream, sugar and brandy. The cream made the coffee a little colder than it should have been but the hearty hit of brandy certainly made up for that – and considering it wasn’t on the menu it was lovely. My chocolate tart was delicious – a rich bitter dark chocolate that went very nicely with my americano. The eton mess however was the winner of the battle of the puds – it was beautifully presented but more importantly was delicious. The strawberries were plump and sweet and the shards of meringue were sweet and chewy. Perfect!

We eventually waddled out, full and happy. Baby TGE was still mooning after his waitress and Mum was busily hugging the rest of the staff and inviting them to join us for a glass of wine next time (you should, seriously). A truly excellent Sunday roast and by far one of the best I’ve had in Bristol. We’ll aim to head back (perhaps sans baby so we can flex that cocktail menu) for a grown up dinner as soon as we can.

 

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WOKY KO

One of my favourite things about April is the complete unpredictability of the weather – we have no bloody idea how to adapt as it can change so quickly! One second we’re digging out thermals to battle the ‘beast from the east’ and the next there’s a  large round yellow thing in the sky which makes us… warm? What is this sorcery? Yes that’s right spring sprung on a lovely Thursday last week and I took the opportunity to head down to Wapping Wharf, one of my favourite places in Bristol, for some lunch and a bit of people watching in the sunshine. A couple wandered past hand in hand, both sporting winter coats, hats and gloves just as a student wandered the other way in shorts and flip flops… we just have no idea do we?

After swinging by the office to disrupt all my colleagues with Baby TGE cuddles (seriously, taking a puppy or a baby into an office guarantees a 100% dip in productivity but 100% rise in happiness) we ventured home via the harbourside which was bustling on such a beautiful day.  The Cargo development at Wapping Wharf is home to many really exciting new places to eat and I feel like I’ve only tried a fraction of them so far. High on my list to try since it opened in 2016 was Woky Ko, a ‘casual Asian diner’ run by Masterchef finalist Larkin Cen. With a menu comprising of bao (filled Asian steamed buns), noodles, rice dishes and sharing plates there’s a lot of tasty options to choose from. I was wrangling the pram on this particular visit and have a tendency to adopt a policy of speed and confidence when trying to get it round tricky spaces when I’m nervous. This sometimes works and sometimes… doesn’t. A very friendly waiter approached me before I entered the tiny, tiny cargo unit and attempted to explain to me that I could take a seat anywhere and it’s table service. I batted this away without listening and rather firmly told him “YES LUNCH FOR ME PLEASE” before ramming the pram into the cargo unit. After a lot of (very polite) people squeezed their chairs and disrupted their lunch in order for me to make my way to the counter to order, I actually stopped long enough to listen to the staff gently explain that I didn’t need to do this… A slightly sweaty reversal later and lots of of forced laughter from me and I was seated outside with the menus and a cold coke to take the edge off.

I was tempted by the baos (and will be back to try them) but on such a lovely day I opted for one of the lunch specials, crispy duck rice noodle salad with chicory in an Asian dressing (£5.95). After a short wait a large bowl was placed in front of me with that tantalising smell of succulent duck wafting in the breeze. It was a generous portion for the price and everything on the plate was fresh and vibrant. The duck was beautifully tasty and sprinkled throughout the salad were little balls of crispy duck skin which were gorgeous. The salad was crunchy and filling, it felt more substantial than salads can be with plenty of interesting colours and textures. I enjoyed the Asian dressing which was the right amount of sharp and sweet but I felt there was far too much for my personal taste – I’m not sure if this was just a one off with my dish or if it’s how the salad is served – but the dressing pooled at the bottom which made the last of the salad soggy. I also found by the end that the taste of the dressing overwhelmed the remaining salad and duck which was a shame. 20180405_141108.jpg

As I had been so healthy with my salad lunch I decided to reward myself with desert -that’s a balanced diet, right? – and wasn’t about to walk away from the offer of a salted caramel bao with coconut ice cream (£4.25)…I’m so bloody glad I didn’t! It’s a fairly delicate portion size (perfect for one but not for sharing, Mr TGE would have got a fork in the face if he’d try to sample some) but absolute perfection. The bao was light and fluffy inside but sweet and crisp on the outside, a bit like little doughnuts. The ice cream was really creamy with a strong coconut flavour, I was at plate-licking stage quickly with it. Salted caramel sauce oozed over it all and I was in heaven, I could have happily demolished 5 of them.20180405_143602

So would I go back? Absolutely, those baos aren’t going to eat themselves you know. If you haven’t ventured to the cargo units at Wapping wharf I would really recommend a trip, especially on a lovely sunny day.