I reviewed The Grace way back when they first opened in July 2014 (how time flies!) and I was impressed with how they had livened and lightened up the place. As we are four years into the future I figured another review was in order, especially these guys are possibly one of the only places in Bristol I trust to not short change me on small plates.
I despise small plates, I really do. Tapas I can just about cope with but only with one other person else I fear going hungry. Small plates, however, are just starters that have been rebranded. I am possibly in a minority with this but I really hate paying £6 – £9 per dish to then share and run the risk of either over or under ordering. It’s far too much stress, money and anxiety than I am willing to go through for the sake of a meal out.
All of that whining aside, the BF and I decided to head in the other week as neither of us could be arsed to put the oven on. I often only pop into The Grace for a bottle of wine to share with a friend in the garden and hadn’t really tried the food since the opening but I had heard consistently good things and thought £20 between two of us wasn’t too much to find out if everyone else was right.
We ordered a selection of dishes including octopus (my problematic fave, it’s so good but they’re such wonderful creatures), rogan josh meatballs, braised pork belly and a bowl of fried potatoes. The service from Dom was lovely, he recommended a few dishes that he thought we would like and was a pleasure to chat with. I told him I “fucking hate small plates” and he promised he would change my mind.
I was pleased to see the portions were generous when they showed up and almost regretted ordering the extra side of potatoes (only almost, I am a porker). The octopus looked beautifully balanced on new potatoes and decorated with capers and smoked paprika. The octopus was lovely to eat too, with not a hint of the rubberiness that has ruined a poorly cooked cephalopod or two in the past for me. The madras meatballs were ordered as a “well it could be really good or really bad” dish, they were a combination of goat and pork sitting in a tangy rogan josh sauce. The meatballs were absolutely delicious with the gamey notes of the goat being tempered by the pork mix but also works really well with the strong, tomato flavours of the sauce. The yoghurt and fresh coriander were a nice little touch that really made it, I keep meaning to eat more goat and I am stealing this recipe.
The star of this surprisingly good show was the pork belly. Tall cubes of pork belly that looked like high rise flats were plated with a sweet and spicy miso sauce, pickled daikon and a scatter of sesame seeds. The pork belly itself was the perfect blend of sweet meat and melt in the mouth fat that absolutely sang in that sweet sauce (the last of which was dutifully scooped up and finished with my fingers). I honestly need to find out where they get that belly because I think I could live on that alone.
The Grace has really bedded into Gloucester Road and created a lovely atmosphere to either enjoy a drink with friends, take advantage of their garden and even try their small plates. Keep an ear out for Dom’s playlist which is fantastic, he might even remember to send it to me soon!
To experience the only small plates I will happily eat, head to The Grace here