Tsukemono takeover @ The Volunteer Tavern 

Those who know where to find good beer and good times have probably already stumbled into the unassuming Volunteer Tavern for a pint of cask ale and a decent roast (if it’s Sunday).

They have now turned the kitchen over to pop-ups, a trend I can get on board with, and their current residents are the fabulous Tsukemono who specialise in tasty Japanese food. I first came across these guys at the BS5 Market where I grabbed some lunch and thoroughly enjoyed some Japanese fried chicken with mayo and pickles.

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A picture of me being joyful about having chicken.

I popped over on a Friday lunchtime and found the pub to be full of diners and managed to nab a window seat by the bar. I ordered a portion of fried pickles, a dangerous choice as many offer these but most serve up something floppy and wet that get left on the plate. I also went for the Katsu- Kare Don, a pork cutlet on a bowl of rice, katsu curry sauce and pickles.

I was also joined by this good boy.

The pickles came out first and they were presented in a little cardboard bowl. They were generously drizzled in a saricha mayo, fried in a light panko crumb and looked very tasty. They weren’t oily and kept their punchy, sour pickled taste whilst also staying turgid and offering crunch. Definitely a good shout by me to order these, burger bars offering similar, take note and take a lesson please.

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My main appeared soon after and I was very pleased with the generous offer. Everything was presented beautifully as you can see, an Instagramers dream with those pickles and Tsukemono’s signature pink lotus root on the side. The pickle (Fukujintsuke) is made with cucumber, ginger, beetroot,, aubergine, daikon and kombu and provided a moreish, crunchy bite with the sweetness making the katsu curry really sing. I polished off the bowl and felt like I had really won at lunch that day.

These guys will be in the kitchen until the end of October and I suggest all of you head over for at least lunch or dinner. The dinner menu expands into the realms of Okonomiyaki (a real favourite of mine, a Japanese potato and cabbage pancake topped with mayo, hot sauce and bento fish flakes), Nasu-Katsu Aubergine and plenty of pickles to munch on whilst waiting. I defiantly want to come back for the “Kimchi Scotch Egg”. They also cater to veggies and vegans so there isn’t an excuse for you not to come!

Find them on FB here

Mid Week Mac is a thing and it’s here

I admit I get some damn good invitations in my inbox, champagne cream teas, two courses of fine Indian food etc and most of the time I leave full, happy and feeling #blessed to have carved out my wee blogging niche.

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However, I wasn’t expecting the sheer volume of tasters I was offered last night at The Urban Standard’s first Mid-Week Mac and Cheese night. Perking up hump day, the Gloucester Road bar has pulled together 10 Mac-Attack dishes that will be exclusively served on Wednesdays. I got to try ALL.OF.THEM. The pic below was taken as my BF had to pull off my boots whilst I lay down for half an hour.

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The menu is split between either burgers or loaded dishes of the cheesy stuff for you to try and pick your way through, every dish I tucked into (with may I add, greedy gusto) was hot, creamy, cheesy and strong enough to taste great but do not detract from the toppings.

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Top dishes of the night for me were;

The burger – a beef patty topped with a mac and cheese fritter, bacon, swiss cheese and pickles

The P.I.G – Mac and Cheese fritter topped with pork and fried egg

Mega Mac Fries – These loaded fries rivaled the Dirty Dirty Fries at The Hobgoblin and are about the same price, well worth trying out.

The Beef and Blue – Topped with beautifully slow cooked beef and plenty of blue cheese

Sweet Potato – Topped with mashed sweet potato and chimmi churi

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You can pick any three topped macs for a reasonable £13, the burgers are all under £9 and you will come away feeling like you might burst. Highly recommended, I will be back.

 

 

Farmdrop Has Come To Bristol

With Bristol becoming one of the top foodie cities in the UK you would expect to be knee deep in fresh, local produce. However, for those of us who work hard, play hard and don’t have the time or inclination to head to Gloucester Road, St Marks Road or Clifton Village to pop to the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers,  Farmdrop is quite the boon.

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Via the jolliest, cow-print electric vans, you can place your order and a nice bloke will deliver within the allotted time, just like Sainsbury’s but without the guilt. I was lucky enough to have been given some credit to try the service for myself and racked my brains for what to buy. As I live smack bang in the middle of Gloucester Road I am literally tripping over the A Boards of a Fishmonger, Butchers, Bakers, Grocers and Bottle Shops so Farmdrop is a wonderfully lazy treat. I went for 2KG of Beef Rib which I intend to roast on a Sunday for friends.

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They were delivered on time by a lovely driver and the beef was exactly what I was expecting which means 10/10 for me really. If you aren’t as geographically lucky as I am, you can expect to find anything from seafood to alcohol, organic fruit and veg, grown in the BS postcode, meat from farms mere miles away and even household goods. They also run a referral scheme so you earn £20 credit by recommending friends, brilliant!

Find Farmdrop here and download the app!

Pictures courtesy of Farmdrop

Whilst I received a complimentary £40 credit this in no way impacted on my opinion. I was not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.

 

 

Champagne Cream Tea at The Ivy

To celebrate their 2nd Birthday, The Ivy Brassiere in Clifton Village is offering a champagne afternoon tea to diners who like a little fizz with their finger sandwiches. Taken in The Orangery, you will be surrounded by nearly 700 origami butterflies hanging above you, making this already beautiful venue something incredibly magical.

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I was incredibly lucky to have been invited along with a few others to try this indulgent treat on a Wednesday afternoon, a nice experience to have after a week laid up with some rather nasty tonsillitis! I hadn’t been to The Ivy before but was incredibly impressed with the decor, the attentiveness (but not over fussing) of the staff and how special the afternoon felt.

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The tea itself is incredibly generous, with both savory and sweet elements. a groaning three-tier cake stand arrived loaded with truffled chicken on brioche, cucumber finger sandwiches, smoked salmon on rye. The sweets were just as indulgent, including a bite-sized raspberry cheesecake,  an espresso chocolate mousse with salted caramel and a fabulous creme brulee inspired doughnut (I would have willingly sacked everything off for 10 of these). Obviously, it isn’t a cream tea without scones, jam and cream. I go cream first, sorry Cornwall, your beaches are nice and your little pies are lovely but cream first all the way. You also get a glass of Perrier – Jouet to sip on throughout and choice of tea or coffee to be served when you prefer.

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As an extra bit of excitement, every bill comes with your own butterfly to be opened to reveal if you win a prize! The tea is running until November so head over and treat yo’ self.

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Cotham Arms – Review

Nothing warms my cockles like a new pub opening, somewhere new to quaff ale, tell jokes, eat crisps and stop people trying to hang out in my house and drink my booze.

The Cotham Arms is on the previous Chin Chin! site, which according to the history poster on the wall, has been a pub in one form or another since 1861 and sits next to Beerd on St Michaels Hill. Now I do have to get the elephant in room out of the way, despite appearances this isn’t an independent inn but owned by Enterprise (now known as El Group) which some may find surprising.

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When you walk into The Cotham Arms you are met with a very cozy feeling place with what I assumed to be original features including a fire place, stain glass windows, good solid furniture and beautifully tiled flooring. It is hard to brush away the cynicism, Enterprise has evidently spent a good chunk of money making the place fit in with the local surroundings, and they have done it well, but I wanted to be up front about it.

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Anyway, we were greeted by some of the nicest staff I have ever met (seriously) seated and left with a menu. My partner and I are both craft beer wankers and were a bit disappointed to see nothing local on the bar or in the fridge but there is plenty to choose from so we settled with a pint of Lagunitas IPA each. We did note the gin list, a brave move with The Green Man down the road but a nice angle none the less.

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The one thing this pub doesn’t do, is a full, hot menu. Instead, they are keeping it really simple with meat, bread and cheese. Some would say…Ok I would say that is pretty much all you need to live on but that’s also why I fear sitting in unfamiliar chairs. The menu has four choices, a meat board, a cheese board, a cold sandwich or a toasted one. Brilliant. To start we went for a mixed board which features cheddar, brie and stilton cheeses, charcuterie from David Richards of Capreolus fine foods. We also had chutney, olives, pickled onions and thick slices of bread and butter. The board was very generous and made a great starter or snack for two people. The meat was amazing and we both still think fondly about the cured mutton, we must find some for our own fridge. The cheese suffered from being left in the fridge, with the brie and stilton not being very soft to slice but the cheddar was fantastic. Perhaps some “cheese training” might be good here?

We couldn’t come to a pub priding itself on toasties without trying one so I opted for us to share a Cotham Arms “Rueben” and the “Mother of all Bacon Sandwiches”. I asked what made the bacon sandwich so good and was told “it just has a lot of bacon in it”…well you can’t argue with that logic.

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The Rueben, isn’t a Rueben, if you want one of those got to Pickled Brisket, but it is good. Pastrami and brie are stuffed betwixt two slices of bread, topped with pickles and *something* that gave it a kick, if I had to guess I would have said horseradish and put in the paninni machine. Definitely a decent toastie. The bacon sandwich I would describe more of a 2nd cousin of Bacon Sandwiches. It was good, it was crispy, it came with a choice of sauce on the side for dipping but it was about as big as you would make at home, I was expecting something a bit more extravagant but as bacon sarnies go, it was good. No rubbery bacon or stringy fat to contend with here. Both sandwiches for the price (£5) and size could benefit with a bag of crisps on the side as standard if you hadn’t munched your way through a sharing board before hand.

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I took my pudding to go, a rather indulgent salted caramel brownie, a choice I had to make from a delicious list of cakes and sweets, which was taken home and eaten in front of Bake Off. I wish I knew where these were from and I hope they are buying local. Same for the bread, chutneys and pickles.

All in all the pub ticked the boxes I look for, warm, cosy, nice stuff on the walls, gorgeous staff, something drinkable and a pile of games. The food isn’t gormet but it’s good enough, no faffing about with people wanting to order big plates of over indulgent food, no going into a pub you like only to be standing around whilst diners take over the tables (I think I moan about this a lot). I hope Enterprise get something local on the bar and make use of the great staples we have on offer in the city but all in all, I would go back.

Find The Cotham arms on FB here and Twitter here, they’re a friendly bunch!

 

 

 

 

Review – Burger Theory

Working opposite Kong’s and living near The Golden Lion has meant I  wasnever further than a hop, skip and chubby jump from tucking into a Burger Theory or three. I have been dragging friends in and calling ahead after late shifts at the hospital (thank you Rory for all those times you put a wee something extra in my bag!) for something comforting to eat before collapsing…I suppose you can say Burger Theory is one of those food places you come to rely on to fill an empty space, like Mum’s Roast Chicken or a cup of tea in a crisis.

Anyway, they went and sodding shut both pop-ups for a few months to open at the old Europa site and I have been bereft without my KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) burger.

Luckily for me, they invited me to come and try the new restaurant so I grabbed my equally greedy friend Bristol Eating and headed over to see what they did with the resturant that infmously created #Toastgate.

The resturant has been transformed with a colour pallete that is feeling familair, beautful blue walls, wooden bar and signage, tables that aren’t overly packed together with a mix of bench and chair seating and lots of colourful stuff on the walls.

I wouldn’t be doing my “job” properly if I didn’t get the bad out of the way, we did stand there for a while waiting to be seated (I had booked ahead), they were incredibly busy so it can be forgiven but a quicker acknowledgement of us being there would have been gratefully recived. The food also took an age to come out too but again, they had over 65 covers over lunch and I wasn’t in a rush to get back to the office. Just worth considering if you are planning to head over whilst the dust is still settling at the restaurant and your boss is an arsehole about long lunches.

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I went for the the KFC, of course, and my friend had the Prarie Girl with BBQ sauce. The KFC is a fried chicken thigh sopping with a Korean BBQ style sauce, greens, chillis and salted peanuts. The Prarie girl (a firm office fave) is a buttermilk fried chicken burger coated with Frank’s hot sauce and cool blue cheese dressing or BBQ sauce.

Other offerings include The Beefy Boy, a beer braised beef rib in a black pepper glaze on hash brown with pink pickled onions and mustard mayo or their infamous veggie burger the Southern Hippie, a southern fried Portobello mushroom with halloumi, Franks hot sauce and cool blue cheese dressing or BBQ sauce.

We both had fries as sides (they have plenty to choose from, even poutine (but not cheese curd poutine)) and chose Blue Cheese mayo and Garlic Mayo for side dipping sauces, a nice extra you didn’t used to get in the old sites. The burgers arrived and were enormous, which was lucky because I was about ready to eat the customer next to me. Fries followed close after and were cripsy and piping hot, which for fries is good. Despite the wonderfully staged photo below it was a knife and fork job, which TBH now i’m over 30 is how I tend to tackle burgers. Everything tasted as good as it ever did, the service was friendly with all of them working doubly hard with the success they are enjoying.

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I can’t wait to redeem my Crowdfunder meal and I will be dragging friends down for a birthday too. Welcome back Burger Theory, we missed you.

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Review – Bomboloni

I finally made it in! Not through lack of trying, however, since opening only a few weeks ago Andrew, Molly and their team have been enjoying a packed restaurant both in and out.

The boyfriend and I headed over for an early, midweek supper and were greeted by a very empty restaurant. “Don’t worry” laughed Andrew, “we’re booked up for the night”. He wasn’t joking either as we must have watched four or five attempts to get in by walk ins, some of which braved the less than stellar weather outside, surely a mark of a good reputation?

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We started with a beautiful garlic and rosemary flatbread, too hot to touch it was that fresh from the oven. The bread was charred and springy with generous lashings of butter, garlic and rosemary. A lovely, carby start to what ended up being a bit of a feast!

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For main my fruits of the sea loving dining partner chose the seafood stew whilst I went traditional with beef shin ragu with pappardelle. The portion sizes were incredibly generous, my partner’s bowl was heaped with clams, prawns, mussels, fish and a light tomato broth. All of it was topped with a pungent and beautifully whipped garlic aioli which I couldn’t resist dunking my fork in to.

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My ragu was piled on top of perfectly cooked, ribbons of pasta, the beef itself was full of flavour and not too heavy despite the amount I had on the plate.  The parmesan and fresh parsley helped lift it all to star quality!

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I couldn’t leave without actually eating a bomboloni so pudding was ordered! Five, freshly cooked little doughnuts appeared with two dipping sauces, jaw smacking lemon curd and sweet raspberry coulee. The bomboloni smelled utterly divine,  who doesn’t adore the smell of hot, sugary doughnuts?

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I am so pleased to have Bomboloni open so close to home, I feel with the recent closings of Zazus, Bagel Boy and the cake shop, the little strip on Pigsty Hill had become sad and it desolate. Despite having an array of options to eat on Gloucester Road, what we lacked was a good, family run restaurant (that isn’t an old fashioned Italian) and we have that now. I recommend you book yourself in as soon as possible.

Find Bomboloni here