SHOLAY INDIAN KITCHEN

Arriving bang on time (which means 15 minutes early) the Grandparents were greeted to a sweaty, wet-haired, half-dressed TGE. And a fairly grumpy baby TGE. “You look nice”, the Fathership offered as I threw my offspring rugby ball style at them and disappeared off upstairs to make myself look vaguely like a person. 10 minutes later (hair dry, red lipstick on, beauty regime DONE) I appeared and explained to them in painstaking detail baby TGE’s bedtime schedule. To be fair to them they listened to it all without any eye rolls (at least to my face) and resisted the urge to scream, “I KNOW, NOT ONLY HAVE I HAD CHILDREN, YOU ARE ONE OF THEM!”. They nodded along with complicated concepts such as, “close the curtains”, “dress him in a sleepsuit” and “put him down to sleep in the cot when he is tired”. Truly ground-breaking stuff, thank goodness I left notes, eh?

But why am I telling you this? Well, it was our first night out for dinner together since Bambino arrived nearly 7 months ago. HUrrah! And which lucky venue would we be visiting? Sholay Indian Kitchen at my favourite foodie haven in Bristol, Wapping Wharf. Luckily for us it happened to be a beautiful sunny evening with hot air balloons drifting dreamily over the harbourside and the cargo units were all bustling with people determined to soak up the last of the summer’s sunshine. Stopping first for a drink at Corks (£5 for a small bottle of prosecco which was 2 glasses worth – hello!) we looked forward to the meal to come. I had heard good things previously about Sholay but with such strong competition from its fellow cargo units it had taken a while to get around to a visit. Located on the top level of Cargo 2, Sholay is a colourful and vibrant unit with plenty of outside terrace seating. We were warmly greeted on arrival and offered a choice of inside or outside (although we were glad we booked as they were very busy). As the temperature was started to drop we opted to sit inside and cosied up in a corner, peeking into the busy kitchen.

As all good meals should it started with a cocktail. I opted for the Sholay Mojito (Jamaican rum, passion fruit, lime, mint and sugar syrup) and Mr TGE went for the Masala Chai Old Fashioned (Early times reserve whiskey, spice honey and orange bitters). Both were beautifully presented with a lovely balance of flavours, though I did feel like I could have done with a slosh more rum in mine (though I feel like that about most drinks). As we sipped we perused the menu, split into small plates, large plates and side dishes  – all dishes sounding much more modern and exciting than your standard bhuna. Feeling decadent we opted for 2 from each section which proved to be more than enough. We asked for advice on the side dishes from our waitress who guided us towards the masala chips – this proved to be a rather excellent choice. With the food arriving all at once we were able to tuck into Peshwari lamb cutlets, onion bhajis with tamarind sauce, grilled lamb kebab, Grandma’s curry (chicken was the ingredient of the day but it also comes with lamb or vegetables), Indian breads and of course, masala chips. Honestly, it was a feast.

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Everything came beautifully and thoughtfully presented and we discovered that the delicate presentation belied the large size of the portions. Each dish carried a depth of flavour that impressed, offering a lovely balance of heat without being overwhelming. We both loved the onion bhajis (which I usually find greasy and unappealing) which were crisp little flavour bombs, perfectly complemented by the sweet, dark slick of tamarind sauce. Grandma’s chicken curry was a rich, warming dish which reminded me of a Thai massaman flavour wise – we enjoyed mopping up the thick sauce with a wedge of the Indian breads.

For me, my lamb kebab stole the show – 2 large skewers of hearty chunks of spiced lamb is the way to my heart apparently. Perfectly tender and blushing pink in the centre, the cooking of the lamb was bang on for me. We both happily gnawed our way through the Peshwari lamb cutlets, not as pink but still very tender. To wash it all down I opeted for a very drinkable New Zealand Sauvignon blanc while Mr TGE went for a classic Kingfisher beer. My wine came in a beautiful goblet from Italy though so I feel like I won that choice.

 

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Stuffed to the gills we were sure we couldn’t possibly have dessert. And also nearly every Indian dessert I’ve had has been a bit rubbish so we were hardly keen – at most we would share one kulfi. Obviously we ordered one each, our willpower is zilch apparently. I had wanted to try the pistachio kulfi but unfortunately it had sold out so I settled for honey rose while Mr TGE opted for mango. Served on sticks in a glass it was a fun way to end the meal, the cool creaminess was perfect.  I wasn’t fussed about the mango flavour but loved the honey rose. Mr TGE felt the opposite, as ever he was wrong.

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Overall it really was a sensational meal and totally worth the price of a babysitter (not that the Grandparentals get paid, spending quality time anxiously watching their Grandson sleep via the baby monitor is payment enough). We’ve had some wonderful meals at Wapping Wharf and Sholay was right up there amongst the best. I would go back in a heartbeat, flavours and presentation were modern, fresh and fun. What more could you want?

 

*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 was shared with the venue before publication

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OOWEE DINER NORTH STREET

Burger fever has swept Bristol in the past couple of years with independent restaurants raising the stakes (Can I get a bonus point making a steak pun there?) and blowing a lot of chain restaurants out of the water. From Chomp (which I loved, link to CHOMP here) to Asado to Squeezed, we’re spoiled for meaty choice. So, when I saw Oowee Diner’s current lunch offer at its North Street branch of a burger and fries for £5, it seemed too good not try…

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There are 2 Oowee diners in Bristol to choose from, the original on Picton Street and the recently refurbed North Street restaurant. After a fairly hectic morning wrangling a teething Baby TGE into the pram (which he’ll sit in but not if he’s strapped in, what’s the fun in not being able to fling yourself onto the pavement whenever you want?) I was passing the North Street branch at around 3pm and realised that I hadn’t actually got around to having lunch yet. Well, who I am to fight the fates? The lunch offer runs Monday – Friday from 12 till 4pm and, as it was fairly late when we went, there were only a handful of other customers. There did seem to be a few staff meetings about rotas and stock takes going on when I arrived and there were crates of new stock taking up some room at the front of the diner (which didn’t create a great first impression) but I imagine this wouldn’t be an issue at busier times.

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On arrival you order at the bar and are given a buzzer which will alert you that your food is ready to collect. With plenty of neon lights, pumping music and the promise of a ‘deliciously dirty’ burger it’s a great hangout for groups of friends, families or couples who are past the initial stage of trying to eat neatly in front of each other. The £5 lunch deal consists of a single patty burger with double American cheese, lettuce, mustard, gherkins, ketchup and fries and after a short wait my buzzer did its thing. As the diner was fairly quiet and I was clearly wrangling a baby so fascinated with the neon lights that I’m counting this trip out as some kind of baby sensory class, the waitress kindly brought me my tray without me having to ask. It was a small gesture, but I really appreciated it and it’s cumulative little touches like that which keep customers loyal.

Now let’s be honest, presentation isn’t the strong point here. But this isn’t presentation food – this is drip down your arm, smear across your face, hang on you’ve got some of it on your forehead kind of food. As advertised, this was absolutely dirty. I was immediately impressed with the size of the portion, there was a cascade of fries which despite my best efforts I didn’t make much of a dent in and the burger was a sizeable handful! The burger was absolutely delicious, really tasty and with the right balance of mustard, gherkins and extras. The fries were hot and crisp and despite the amount of sauce and filling, the burger it held together well. Going out on a limb, it was actually my favourite burger I’ve had so far in Bristol and I would be interested in exploring some of the more adventurous parts of the menu, such as the peanut butter bacon jelly burger or the vegan shrimp fries. I might even throw in a milkshake, in for a penny in for a pound!

For £5 it was absolutely amazing value and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I take advantage of it.