Bristol — Big Night Out & A Saturday’s Lunch…

We decided that before our eminent departure from the UK for Spain, that we had not really tasted the culinary or cultural highlights of the Big Smoke Bristol…so we booked ourselves into the wonderful Rodney Hotel in the super-cool area of Clifton & they treated us (and Billie) quite well…

BFWHotel

After an exploratory walk around our new hood (Billie’s idea), we got scrubbed up & took a leisurely stroll to our Friday night culinary event – Birch restaurant. This was a place after my own heart & many echoes of my New Zealand establishment London Street came loudly ringing through. Birch has a simple menu following the mantra of they’d rather do a few things exceptionally well than many things mediocre.

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BFWBirchInside

BFWBirchMenu

After a quick perusal of the menu, we’d both made our choices and quickly got on to the important agenda items – beverages. Again, the wine list was small but well chosen and a decent majority of it fell in the ‘most affordable’ range. They offer some seriously good tastings by the glass at an amazingly low price – worth a try. We opted for a fat & fruity Cote du Rhone that went down with the greatest of ease.

BFWBirchWine

With the UK asparagus season just coming into full swing, a sharing plate of asparagus & fresh crab salad was brought to the table…and rapidly consumed.

BFWCrabSalad

And for mains we got boring and could not resist ordering the same bloody thing…the Middlewhite Pork Belly with the potato cake & greens…but 2 very happy customers.

BFWBirchMain

So if you are near or headed to Bristol for whatever reason and you think you deserve a treat – by all means make it a meal & drink @ Birch!

And the dawn of Saturday thankfully brought yet more unusual British summer weather as we had booked ourselves in for a departing (we needed to get back to Frome to finish our packing) lunch @ Bell’s Diner & Bar Room. We had read about Bell’s in a plethora of publications and it was all 100% awesome….

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And they were spot on – a super day that allowed us to take the 1 outside table so Billie could be part of the experience – yay!

BFWBellsMenu

This place is way cool and would love it to be my local – but maybe a wee bit dangerous. We started with a most unusual dish that made a pass at our new destination (Spain) – Jamón Butter with Bell’s Bread. A different take on bread & butter to be sure…

BFWBellsEntreeNext in the tapas style dining excursion was the double hit of Smoked Trout & Cider Pickled Cucumber & Dill Creme Fraiche and my dish of Cornish Clams, Saffron Potatoes cooked Broth with Parsley & Garlic…finished my clams before I remembered to take a photo!

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And I closed with the Chicken Oyster Pintxo to get me in practice for my new home -Hondarribia! Estupendo!

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So if you live nearby or a few counties away, get yourselves to Bell’s for a serious amount of pleasure.

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Bristol’s Flinty Red – Tip Top In All Categories!

Last Friday (January 16th 2015) was a cracker of a winter’s day with blue skies, loads of sunshine & crisp temperatures, so we jumped on the train for a day out in Bristol. We planned to do a modified Banksy (he’s originally from here) walk which would wind us through some of the more interesting & pretty bits of Bristol.

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One of Banksy’s Sculptures in the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

We popped into the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery to see one of Banksy’s sculptures and enjoyed a great new exhibition called ‘Ahead of the Curve: new china from China‘.

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New China from China…

We have been learning Spanish in anticipation of our move to Spain later this year & as part of our language learning chores we have ‘Liked’ a Facebook page of Spanish folks handing out advice to other Spanish folks living in Bristol. One of the Facebook posts named the Top 10 affordable but very good places to eat & the description of one, Flinty Red, ticked all the boxes.

FRSign

So when the clock’s hands pointed to 12, we made a bee line to Flinty Red on Cotham Hill. Hitting the lunch opening hour smack on the nose we had our pick of tables and the opportunity to have a grand chat with the maitre d’ who served up all the background details of Flinty Red and its sister wine store, Corks of Cotham.

FRInside

 Flinty Red does an excellent lunchtime special of an hors d’oeuvre and a small main for a tenner. Hound #2 took up the special offer & chose as her hors d’oeuvre a dish called ‘panisse‘. We had never come across this food word except in Alice Water’s well known restaurant in Berkeley called Chez Panisse. The maitre d’ explained it was a mix of chickpea flour and polenta which was then deep fried. Hound #2 took a flyer…

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Panisse

And she was not disappointed – with just a squeeze of fresh lemon it was a delight to consume. Would make an excellent home snack except for the frying bit, which is why it is nice to have out where they have the proper equipment. Could have loads of fun trying different spice mixtures in the flour/polenta mix…

FRSteak

Hound #3 spied the the word ‘onlget’ in the mains section of the menu & his choice was made. Onlget is the French word for Hanger Steakwhich is also known as the Butcher’s Steak as he always keeps it for himself! It is an extremely flavoursome cut of beef  (it usually is the cut you get when you order steak pommes frites in France) and when cooked right or in the hands of a good chef, it is a sublime meat experience. And this indeed was – the onlget cooked to perfection and accompanied by a stupendous winter salad of radicchio, thinly sliced jerusalem artichokes & shaved parmesan.

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For Hound #2’s small main she went with mussels with white beans, bacon & cavolo nero. This was also most excellent – rich flavours & great textures soaked up with house made bread. Would mos def go back and have this again.

And all washed down with a 375ml carafe of delish 2013 Jumilla Monastrell from Juan Gil – supplied by the Corks of Cotham & available for purchase…which we did.