Eating out, up in Clifton
PUBLISHED: 07:00 08 April 2016
When I first moved to Bristol I found myself, quite by chance, living a stone's throw from Clifton village - the prettiest, 'poshest' part of town in my opinion.
I’d landed on my feet – especially considering I’d never even visited the city before moving in. In an effort to ‘get to know’ the local area, however, I then spent most of the next year or so sitting on my (rapidly expanding) behind, eating out with new friends as much as I could.
Now I’ve long since moved to a less resplendent part of town, going for a meal out in Clifton feels like the special kind of treat it should. Perfect whether getting dolled up for date night or going for a meal with friends.
There are so many fabulous new places to try too – in Clifton village and beyond – that I couldn’t possibly cover them all. But here’s some of my favourites to get you started:
Best of British
My first ever meal out in Bristol was to the Clifton Sausage (cliftonsausage.co.uk) in Portland Street. If you like British classic, sausage and mash - and frankly, who doesn’t – you’ll be delighted.
Go the whole hog and try the Clifton sausages, made from pork, cider and wholegrain mustard, with a creamy, dreamy mash and onion gravy. And vegetarians need not fret, among the meat-free options are some delicious leek, Caerphilly and Cheddar Glamorgans.
Walk on the wild side
If you’re fascinated by food, and where it comes from, check out newly opened Nettle & Rye (nettleandrye.co.uk). The adventurous restaurant specialises in casual fine dining, using lots of wild foods as it seeks to reintroduce forgotten produce and tastes.
“Eating at our restaurant is a cerebral experience,” explains Head Chef Felix Rayment. “We are asking customers to alter their own preconceptions of how food should be served. Do we always need stodgy carbohydrates? Is a meal always three courses?”
You can look forward to intriguing, inherently seasonal dishes such as guineafowl, sourdough, leek, turnip or cod, pork belly and quince, with complementary smoked celeriac soup, sea salt and rye. And make sure you pay a visit to the bar downstairs – it stocks one of the most impressive selections of craft beers in the city, with a fair few locally brewed.
Alternatively, try Wildwood (wildwood restaurants.co.uk), part of a small group of restaurants, in case you’ve spotted them elsewhere. The vibe is super chilled-out, perfect for gathering round a big group of chums for stone-baked pizza, or a hearty serving of pasta. “Our aim is simple,” says Manager Helen Sherman, “to serve great food delivered by friendly staff in a relaxed, homely environment.”
One of my most memorable eating experiences in Bristol was at impeccable Italian restaurant Rosemarino (rosemarino.co.uk), which has since opened a second Colston branch to meet demand. I first went a couple of years back with my dad and he still raves about how wonderful it was. It seems the critics agree – it’s won best Italian four years running at the Bristol Good Food Awards.
“Our essential ingredient has to be the cured meats we import from Mirco’s home region of Trentino, which are made exclusively for us by his father Renato,” says Tony de Brito who co-owns the restaurant with Mirco Bertoldi and Sam Fryer. “You won’t find these incredible ingredients anywhere else in the UK.”
The menu changes monthly, drawing influences from all the regions of Italy, but there is always a good balance between the rustic and the refined, explains Tony. “It is hard for us to pick a favourite dish from the past five years but on our current menu we have a wonderfully delicate monkfish dish where the fish is wrapped in guanciale and served with beetroot spatzle, a twist on a typical pasta served on the Austrian border.”
Posh pub grub
Tucked away, with its own courtyard, The Albion (thealbionclifton.co.uk) excels at both food and drink. Expect the whole spectrum, from fabulous homemade renditions of pub classics, like honey glazed ham, eggs and chips, to a la carte dishes such as pan seared venison with blackberry jus. It’s also a great spot for a pre-dinner drink, with its changing menu of seasonal drinks – the hot cider is heavenly – as well as excellent wines, local ales and single malts.
Top notch seafood
You may not be able to see the sea from Clifton, but you can be sure of some incredible seafood ‘inspired by the larder of the West Country’ at Wallfish Bistro (wallfishbistro.co.uk). You’ll find a mouth-watering menu bearing delights such as cockles, oysters and Portland crab, chorizo scallops and Dorset blue lobster. Just make sure you book in advance, this place is popular.
In Princess Victoria Street, you’ll find Fishers (fishers-restaurant.com). A long-time local favourite which has as fresh produce as you can get, buying from day boat Cornish fishermen and smaller fishmongers who deliver direct to Bristol in time for lunch. The menu is always so delectable you may have trouble deciding, in which case order a hot shellfish platter – complete with steamed River Exe mussels in white wine, garlic and cream, crevettes, langoustines and Cornish king scallops.
Hot on the heels of its hugely successful Bath branch, The Mint Room (themintroom.co.uk) is wowing everyone with its fresh, high-end take on Indian cuisine. The focus is on fine ingredients and authentic flavours. Take one of the a la carte starters, for example - quail marinated and cooked in tandoor, crispy leg lollipop, fried Quail egg, served with apple and vanilla puree. The rest of the menu is similarly exquisite.
For a mix of Thai, Chinese, Singaporean and more, Bauhinia (bauhinia-bar.co.uk) is a firm favourite. Not only is its menu delicious and varied, with something to suit everyone, it’s also affordable enough to warrant a mid-week meal when you can’t face cooking. Super satisfying dishes include Thai basil chicken, Malaysian beef rendang and Singapore fried noodles.
If you haven’t been for a drink in the pub garden of the White Lion yet – it’s the best view you’ll get of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. The Avon Gorge Hotel shares that view, and its Bridge Café (theavongorge.com) is the ideal place to admire the twinkly lights of the bridge at night. Diners can feast on classic, British cuisine with a twist from an exciting new seasonal menu, offering a wide choice of locally sourced dishes, featuring Head Chef Marcus Bradley’s distinctive flair. w