In the mood for Mezze - Charlotte Richardson visits the Ship and Castle in Congresbury
PUBLISHED: 17:39 10 October 2012 | UPDATED: 22:02 20 February 2013
With the look of a well-kept, age-old old pub from the outside and set in an area bursting with history, the restaurant and hotel balances the traditional with the contemporary.
In the mood for Mezze
Charlotte Richardson savoured a delightful evening at the Ship and Castle in Congresbury
With the look of a well-kept, age-old old pub from the outside and set in an area bursting with history, the restaurant and hotel balances the traditional with the contemporary. Having changed hands earlier this year, the Ship and Castle now specialises in mezze, a tapas style of eating.
Mezz at the Ship and Castle, the new name of the restaurant, brings modern, Mediterranean-style dining to the heart of the English countryside, without sacrificing the wonderful historic surroundings and traditional comfortable ambience of a country inn and hotel.
The new owners invested hundreds of thousands of pounds revamping the entire pub and creating a new Mediterranean garden, which has seen a 75,000 makeover, with new raised decking, herb garden, childrens play castle, water features, an outside television and even a new ice cream parlour.
As soon as you step through the door of the restaurant, what immediately hits you is the stylish, yet sympathetic, modern dcor you could only wish you had thought of putting together yourself.
Rather than an impersonal, open-plan layout, the dining room is divided into several medium-sized areas, with small hubs for families or secludedcorners for couples.
The star of the meal, for both of us, was the rickinta, a chickpea and saffron-infused rice, cooked with shallot butter
We were shown to our room by smiling staff, who could not do enough for us, including making me feel incredibly lazy by offering to carry my small overnight bag. The Boma Room was spacious and contemporary, with views of the fabulous beer garden and river.
It had a number of touches that really made a difference, including an iPod dock, fan, flat screen television and there was even an option to be able to borrow a DVD for the evening.
As soon as we were settled we went down for dinner and took in the extensive menu. There is a wide range of mezze dishes to choose from, together with a full a la carte menu.
We opted for the restaurant speciality, the Grand Mezze a selection of six cold starters, four hot starters, five main dishes and a platter of desserts to try.
The staff were all very friendly and happy to explain how a mezze worked, bringing out the cold and hot starters, before allowing us to pause for breath before moving on to the delicious-looking main courses.
Packed full of flavour, you might be fooled into thinking these small tapas-sized dishes may leave you hungry, but believe me, the amount of food you are given would satisfy even the healthiest appetite.
For me, among the best dishes on the Grand Mezze were the tender souvlaki, mouthwatering sesame chicken in sweet chilli sauce, the moreish olive tapenade and the flavoursome hummous washed down with crisp, chilled Pinot Grigio.
But the star of the meal, for both of us, was the rickinta, a chickpea and saffron-infused rice, cooked with shallot butter whoever decided to put these flavours together is a true artist.
The treats did not end there, however, the platter of desserts at the end, including tangy lemon tart and delicious baklava, were the perfect end to a lovely meal.
Following a peaceful nights sleep, we were offered breakfast in bed a rare treat these days.
The Ship and Castle is ideal for those who want an evening away in a good quality hotel, with top-class food and friendly staff.
Mezz at the Ship & Castle
High Street, Congresbury, Bristol BS49 5JA
Tel: 01934 833535
Opening Times: Mon-Sun 12pm late
For more information visit:mezzerestaurants.com/ship-and-castle