Adventures in Gastronomy

"I love this burger so much, I wanna sew my ass shut." Barney Stinson

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Three Brothers Burgers, Welsh Back, Bristol

When I hear of a new burger joint opening in Bristol it is always music to my ears. Somehow Three Brothers had slipped my notice until a friend pointed them out to me. This new burger restaurant has opened aboard the Spyglass on Welsh Back. The spyglass is a converted barge which also houses seating on the adjacent quayside. Its former incarnation was as a Mediterranean BBQ and Grill which did the usual Grill fayre of steak and fish. Inside the restaurant is pretty minimally decked out with simple seating and the smell of smoke from the grill filling the air. 

I went for the Smokey Bro Burger which came with smoked Applewood cheddar, sweet cured bacon, house-made relish and crispy onions. The burger came in a glazed brioche bun which was delightfully squishy and held up well to the end. The menu informed me that the beef used was 28 day aged beef from Herefordshire. The pattie was cooked nicely pink and had a good flavour although the texture was too knitted together for my liking. I know I go on about this in many burger reviews but I’m a burger perfectionist ok?! The home made BBQ relish was delicious, I love a good BBQ sauce and this relish really added some flavour to the burger. The bacon was also spot on. Theres nothing worse than bacon in a burger thats undercooked and fatty and that pulls out of the burger when you try to take a bite. The bacon in this case was sweet-cured bacon which meant it was beautifully crispy with a sweet tang to it. Just perfect. The crispy onions were home made with delicate thin slices of onion fried in a crispy batter. This was one of the few times I’d seen home made crispy onions on a burger and the attention to detail paid off as they were fab. The crispy onions/BBQ sauce combo is a classic and its was worked well here. All in all this was a seriously tasty burger. The skin-on fries were also nice and crispy with a fluffy centre. 

The burger was £8 with an extra £2.50 for fries. The menu also includes starters such as deep fried pickles with ranch dip and mains such as hot dogs and philly cheese steak. They also do shakes. For a new burger joint I was suitably impressed. My personal preference for pattie texture isn’t always met but when a burger is so well crafted and tastes so fantastic any such concerns aren’t an issue. 

Three Brothers Burgers are a great addition to Bristol’s burger joints and I will most certainly be going back.

www.threebrothersburgers.co.uk

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Spitfire BBQ, Bristol

Finding out that a new BBQ joint is opening in Bristol is exciting enough but to find out that one is opening a stones throw from my place of work is down right fantastic! Being a big BBQ fanatic I was worried that my expectations may not be met so I gave them a week or so from opening before I decided to pop over to iron out any teething problems. Thats long enough right? In any case I couldn’t wait any longer.

Spitfire BBQ have set up in the premises previously occupied by Jack’s brasserie which I had visited once for a work leaving do and found the food to be ok but expensive for what it was. Spitfire BBQ have undertaken a complete renovation and they’ve done a good job. The inside has orange leather seating around the corners which were very pleasing to the eye.  An illuminated Spitfire logo on the back wooden clad wall was also a nice touch. They also have a generous outside seating area with a fire pit adding some warmth and smouldering oak aromas. Their brand of BBQ takes its cues from South Africa rather than the good old USA which makes things interesting. Boerwurs has become a BBQ favourite of mine after being introduced to it by a Zimbabwean friend of mine so seeing some on the menu made me smile.

We started with some Brai Bread which was essentially garlic bread made with flat bread and grilled on the BBQ. This was a nice idea that worked well although it could have done with a little more garlic and butter. 

There were 2 things on the menu that I wanted to try, the ribs and a burger. Loving my burgers as I do I’m always curious to try a new burger. Thankfully Jo was happy to get one of each and to share. I asked the waiter what the difference between the baby back and the St Louis ribs. I was informed that the St Louis were meatier and well worth extra couple of quid. I took his advice and went for the St Louis ribs and damn was I glad that I did!

The Ribs arrived on a wooden board with a few salad leaves to the side.  I assume this was for aesthetic effect but I really wouldn’t have bothered myself. Anyone who orders ribs likely isn’t bothered about a few salad leaves! The ribs themselves looked like a slab of meat and thats exactly what they were. I’ve never had any ribs quite like them. Beneath the charred layer of skin on top was an inch or so of pure meat. I found 3-4 small bones at the bottom but thats it. The meat was juicy and tender and literally melted in my mouth. Being such a thick slab of meat the smoke doesn’t permeate too deep in to the meat but thats really not an issue when the meat is of such top quality and so perfectly cooked. It was simply delicious. It was also a hell of a big portion which I couldn’t finish. Luckily the staff were happy to wrap up what was left for me to take away with me (ribs meat rolls for lunch the next day!).

The burger pattie was sandwiched between a brioche bun which worked nicely. My main complaint was the size of the pattie, I’m not a fan of meatball burgers for two reasons 1) In an effort to ensure they are cooked through they are generally overdone and 2) They are impossible to fit in your mouth. Mainly for the second reason I just don’t see the point. In this case the pattie wasn’t too overdone and there was a hint of pink in the centre. The pattie had a good flavour and a nice texture to it and was nice and juicy. The burger also came with a topping of pulled pork which added a nice hint of smoke and sweetness to each bite. The size of the pattie aside this was a really tasty burger that I would certainly order again. The chips were also nice and chunky and well cooked.

Spitfire BBQ is a great addition to the Bristol food scene and their take on BBQ means they aren’t in direct competition with the likes of Grillstock. I’ll be popping down soon to check out their lunch deal which includes a main course and drink for £6.95.

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The Weighbridge Inn, Minchinhampton
The Weighbridge Inn is situated in the idyllic village of Minchinhampton, about 4 Miles from Stroud. Nearby Minchinhampton common is a vast expanse of grass (about 400 acres) owned and managed by the National Trust. Its a great place to let the kids run around and play football or fly their kites. Although it was very windy we decided to run around and play airplanes with our boy Zane instead. This worked up our appetite nicely, as if I wasn’t salivating at thought of the food already.
The inn itself is a homely old fashioned kind of pub. By that I mean that it hasn’t been tarted up to try and be fashionable and this is no bad thing. A roaring fire greeted us as we entered and the smell of smouldering wood filled the air. 
This was my second visit, the first being about 2 years ago and both times we were there for one thing and one thing only, the famous 2 in 1 pie. The pies come with one half full of meat and the other overflowing with cauliflower cheese. The choices for the meat filing include Steak and Mushroom, Chicken Ham & Leek in a creamy tarragon sauce and Salmon in a cream sauce. You can also replace the cauli cheese with broccoli and root veg, but why would you?? We both went for the Steak and Mushroom of course. The pies come in 2 sizes, the Mini and the Full size. Being greedy I opted for the full whilst my wife was more realistic with her mini. I could have gotten away with the mini and been quite satisfied. I made the same mistake last time and clearly haven’t learned my lesson! The Steak and Mushroom was tasty and well seasoned with beef that was falling apart and melted in the mouth. They also didn’t skim on the meat, it really was packed in there. The pastry was really short and was beautifully flakey and crumbly. Spilling out of the opposite end of the pie was the cauli cheese. Again I really couldn’t fault it, nice and creamy cauliflower with the just right amount of cheese melted all over it. 
This really was a mighty pie, i couldn’t even finish it. Which is very unusual for me! After a good 15 mins struggling away my wife shouted at me to just leave it if i was full. I had to finish off the meat at the very least (because thats the rule, right?).  After popping to the little boys room I returned to find  Jo had polished off the rest of my cauliflower cheese. A good team effort all round!
The Full pie is around £14.80 with the mini at £11.90 (although you can take them away for £9.50 and £7.50 and bake them at home which includes a blue and white enamel dish to keep). The 2 in 1 pie is no gimmick, its a fantastic pie which is extremely well executed. I should really go for the mini next time but I have a feeling I’ll go for the full again because its just so damn tasty. Also I’m sure Jo will help me out if I struggle!
www.weighbridgeinn.co.uk

The Weighbridge Inn, Minchinhampton

The Weighbridge Inn is situated in the idyllic village of Minchinhampton, about 4 Miles from Stroud. Nearby Minchinhampton common is a vast expanse of grass (about 400 acres) owned and managed by the National Trust. Its a great place to let the kids run around and play football or fly their kites. Although it was very windy we decided to run around and play airplanes with our boy Zane instead. This worked up our appetite nicely, as if I wasn’t salivating at thought of the food already.

The inn itself is a homely old fashioned kind of pub. By that I mean that it hasn’t been tarted up to try and be fashionable and this is no bad thing. A roaring fire greeted us as we entered and the smell of smouldering wood filled the air. 

This was my second visit, the first being about 2 years ago and both times we were there for one thing and one thing only, the famous 2 in 1 pie. The pies come with one half full of meat and the other overflowing with cauliflower cheese. The choices for the meat filing include Steak and Mushroom, Chicken Ham & Leek in a creamy tarragon sauce and Salmon in a cream sauce. You can also replace the cauli cheese with broccoli and root veg, but why would you?? We both went for the Steak and Mushroom of course. The pies come in 2 sizes, the Mini and the Full size. Being greedy I opted for the full whilst my wife was more realistic with her mini. I could have gotten away with the mini and been quite satisfied. I made the same mistake last time and clearly haven’t learned my lesson! The Steak and Mushroom was tasty and well seasoned with beef that was falling apart and melted in the mouth. They also didn’t skim on the meat, it really was packed in there. The pastry was really short and was beautifully flakey and crumbly. Spilling out of the opposite end of the pie was the cauli cheese. Again I really couldn’t fault it, nice and creamy cauliflower with the just right amount of cheese melted all over it. 

This really was a mighty pie, i couldn’t even finish it. Which is very unusual for me! After a good 15 mins struggling away my wife shouted at me to just leave it if i was full. I had to finish off the meat at the very least (because thats the rule, right?).  After popping to the little boys room I returned to find  Jo had polished off the rest of my cauliflower cheese. A good team effort all round!

The Full pie is around £14.80 with the mini at £11.90 (although you can take them away for £9.50 and £7.50 and bake them at home which includes a blue and white enamel dish to keep). The 2 in 1 pie is no gimmick, its a fantastic pie which is extremely well executed. I should really go for the mini next time but I have a feeling I’ll go for the full again because its just so damn tasty. Also I’m sure Jo will help me out if I struggle!

www.weighbridgeinn.co.uk

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Bagel Boy, St Nicholas St, Bristol
Bagel Boy have been around for while, popping up at festivals and street food gatherings. I’ve had the pleasure of eating their bagels at a BEats event at Lakota last summer but they now have a permanent sit-in restaurant on St Nicholas Street, just off the busy Corn Street.
The menu runs to about 20 different combinations. There are your obvious choices of smoked salmon and cream cheese as well as some more interesting combinations. I went for the Party Boy which came with a burger patty, bacon, cheese, tomato and lettuce with BBQ sauce. So basically a burger in a bagel, right up my street! The patty was well seasoned and full of flavour, all in all a really tasty combination. My wife went for the Reuben, which would normally have been my first choice. The salt beef had a nice spice kick to it which added some heat to the proceedings. 
The bagels were huge and perfectly cooked with a nice chewy texture and a great flavour. They reminded me of the massive bagels we had for breakfast in New York where the bagels were as big as your face. We also had some sweet potato wedges which were tasty but in all honesty we probably didn’t need them as the bagels were so filling.
Annoyingly I only noticed the brisket special on my way out as that certainly would have been my choice had I seen the board on my way in. I guess that gives me an excuse to go back again! The bagels came to a fiver each which was a fair price as they were massive and very filling. With 2 4 1 Bagels after 5pm on some days you really can’t afford to not pop along. 
If you work in the centre of Bristol this is the perfect place to pop for a quick lunch, they do take away as tell. Bagel  Boy are another great addition to the Bristol food scene and another reason for me to keep going to the gym to work off all the awesome food that I am finding in the city. Keep it coming Bristol!
www.bagelboy.co.uk

Bagel Boy, St Nicholas St, Bristol

Bagel Boy have been around for while, popping up at festivals and street food gatherings. I’ve had the pleasure of eating their bagels at a BEats event at Lakota last summer but they now have a permanent sit-in restaurant on St Nicholas Street, just off the busy Corn Street.

The menu runs to about 20 different combinations. There are your obvious choices of smoked salmon and cream cheese as well as some more interesting combinations. I went for the Party Boy which came with a burger patty, bacon, cheese, tomato and lettuce with BBQ sauce. So basically a burger in a bagel, right up my street! The patty was well seasoned and full of flavour, all in all a really tasty combination. My wife went for the Reuben, which would normally have been my first choice. The salt beef had a nice spice kick to it which added some heat to the proceedings. 

The bagels were huge and perfectly cooked with a nice chewy texture and a great flavour. They reminded me of the massive bagels we had for breakfast in New York where the bagels were as big as your face. We also had some sweet potato wedges which were tasty but in all honesty we probably didn’t need them as the bagels were so filling.

Annoyingly I only noticed the brisket special on my way out as that certainly would have been my choice had I seen the board on my way in. I guess that gives me an excuse to go back again! The bagels came to a fiver each which was a fair price as they were massive and very filling. With 2 4 1 Bagels after 5pm on some days you really can’t afford to not pop along. 

If you work in the centre of Bristol this is the perfect place to pop for a quick lunch, they do take away as tell. Bagel  Boy are another great addition to the Bristol food scene and another reason for me to keep going to the gym to work off all the awesome food that I am finding in the city. Keep it coming Bristol!

www.bagelboy.co.uk

Filed under bagel bristol bagel boy

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Patty & Bun, London
Patty & Bun seems to turn up on most top 10 lists for the best burger in the capital. Being in London for the weekend for a DJ gig I made sure I set aside some time to check it out.
Located on the busy James Street near Bond Street station Patty & Bun are one of a plethora of eateries on the street. There really is a wealth of choice from Sushi to Tapas to Lebanese (the smell of shisha smoke was thick in the air). P&B don’t take reservations so you have to queue and put your name on a list. Thankfully burgers are quick to cook up and equally as quick to devour so the queuing lasted maybe 20 mins (even so Jay Rayner would no doubt have refused to endure such a wait).
The menu is fairly short and runs to a couple of beef burger combinations, a lamb burger, a chicken burger and a mushroom burger. One of my party went for the Smokey Robinson with its caramelised onions and bacon. The first time visiting a new burger joint I like to keep it as simple as possible in order to get a real taste of the beef. That being the case I went for the Ari Gold which came with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, ketchup, smokey p&b mayo served in a brioche bun. Let’s start with the first thing I always look for in a burger. How is it cooked? In this case perfectly, a beautiful caramelised char on the outside and a perfect medium pink on the inside. I don’t find that many places who will cook burgers like this anymore (food safety regulations) so I was immediately happy. The pattie was enveloped by melted cheese that wrapped the meat in a coat of creamy yellow heaven. The brioche bun was excellent, toasted to give a crunch and with a lovely glaze on the crown. I’ve heard people moan about brioche buns being too sweet but I had no complaints about this one.
As with all outstanding gastronomic delights it’s the attention to detail and the combination of flavours that tickles the taste buds. The elements that really lifted this burger were the addition of pickled onion and the smokey mayo. The onion came as soft pink strips reminiscent of the pickled ginger you get served with Sushi. It was sweet and tangy and not at all what i would have expected from picked onion which I usually can’t stand. The smokey mayo added an extra layer of flavour that worked with the cheese and pickled onion to create a burger that is as close to perfect as I can say I have tasted. I can’t say it’s the best as I don’t think I can pick the best burger I’ve had. Once you get close to perfection I can just say it gets 10/10. This is an accolade I can also give to Honest Burgers. Which is better? I can’t say, they are different but equally as tasty. Another element P&B has in common with Honest Burgers is the inclusion of Rosemary Salt chips on the menu. The chips here were gorgeous with lovely crunchy exteriors and fluffy insides. Unlike Mr Rayner I have no qualms about queuing for a burger, specially when the burger is as fantastic as this. The burger was juicy, perfectly cooked with a depth of flavour from the various ingredients that was a joy to savour. I know food is great when I slow myself down so as to make the meal last longer. Eaking out every last second of flavourful indulgence. My only regret is that I didn’t have space for a second burger.
www.pattyandbun.co.uk

Patty & Bun, London

Patty & Bun seems to turn up on most top 10 lists for the best burger in the capital. Being in London for the weekend for a DJ gig I made sure I set aside some time to check it out.

Located on the busy James Street near Bond Street station Patty & Bun are one of a plethora of eateries on the street. There really is a wealth of choice from Sushi to Tapas to Lebanese (the smell of shisha smoke was thick in the air). P&B don’t take reservations so you have to queue and put your name on a list. Thankfully burgers are quick to cook up and equally as quick to devour so the queuing lasted maybe 20 mins (even so Jay Rayner would no doubt have refused to endure such a wait).

The menu is fairly short and runs to a couple of beef burger combinations, a lamb burger, a chicken burger and a mushroom burger. One of my party went for the Smokey Robinson with its caramelised onions and bacon. The first time visiting a new burger joint I like to keep it as simple as possible in order to get a real taste of the beef. That being the case I went for the Ari Gold which came with cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickled onions, ketchup, smokey p&b mayo served in a brioche bun. Let’s start with the first thing I always look for in a burger. How is it cooked? In this case perfectly, a beautiful caramelised char on the outside and a perfect medium pink on the inside. I don’t find that many places who will cook burgers like this anymore (food safety regulations) so I was immediately happy. The pattie was enveloped by melted cheese that wrapped the meat in a coat of creamy yellow heaven. The brioche bun was excellent, toasted to give a crunch and with a lovely glaze on the crown. I’ve heard people moan about brioche buns being too sweet but I had no complaints about this one.

As with all outstanding gastronomic delights it’s the attention to detail and the combination of flavours that tickles the taste buds. The elements that really lifted this burger were the addition of pickled onion and the smokey mayo. The onion came as soft pink strips reminiscent of the pickled ginger you get served with Sushi. It was sweet and tangy and not at all what i would have expected from picked onion which I usually can’t stand. The smokey mayo added an extra layer of flavour that worked with the cheese and pickled onion to create a burger that is as close to perfect as I can say I have tasted. I can’t say it’s the best as I don’t think I can pick the best burger I’ve had. Once you get close to perfection I can just say it gets 10/10. This is an accolade I can also give to Honest Burgers. Which is better? I can’t say, they are different but equally as tasty. Another element P&B has in common with Honest Burgers is the inclusion of Rosemary Salt chips on the menu. The chips here were gorgeous with lovely crunchy exteriors and fluffy insides. Unlike Mr Rayner I have no qualms about queuing for a burger, specially when the burger is as fantastic as this. The burger was juicy, perfectly cooked with a depth of flavour from the various ingredients that was a joy to savour. I know food is great when I slow myself down so as to make the meal last longer. Eaking out every last second of flavourful indulgence. My only regret is that I didn’t have space for a second burger.

www.pattyandbun.co.uk

Filed under burger gourmet burger patty & bun

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Burger Theory @ The Golden Lion, Gloucester Road, Bristol
When a new burger joint opens up in Bristol I feel it is my duty as a burger lover to get over there as soon as possible. Burger Theory aren’t new to the scene, they’ve been popping up at festivals and various events for a while but they have now taken over the kitchen at the Golden Lion on Gloucester Road.
The Golden Lion is a great little music pub with a variety of acts on most days of the week. It’s probably not the kind of place that you may expect to find a top burger. The menu runs to about 16 burgers and there is usually a special as well. That’s a lot of choice. I went for the Sheriff which was a beef and bacon burger topped with oak smoked cheddar, onion rings and bourbon BBQ sauce. Jo went for the Pork of the Town which was a pork, chorizo and Parmesan burger with sun dried tomato pesto. Burger Theory pride themselves on trying to do things differently, so when they say its a beef and bacon burger the bacon is actually in the burger. This gave the pattie a red hue and I also noticed some herbs and possibly some onion in there as well. Now anyone who knows me will know that I am not a fan of adding anything to a burger pattie. I think the quality of the meat should speak for itself. However in this case I may have to rethink that rule.
The pattie was full of flavour and the added ingredients really worked. My wife’s pork, chorizo and parmesan pattie was also bursting with flavour, working well with the pesto topping which didn’t overpower the other flavours. The bun was ok, pretty much a floury bap but it held up well. The fries came in a little basket and were nice and crispy and well seasoned. My wife went with the cheesy chips which were dripping in yummy cheese. They’d even put the cheese in layers rather than just on top which was a nice touch.
I was impressed with Burger Theory. They pay real attention to the flavour combinations and the burgers are well executed. You may not expect to find great burgers at a pub, but that’s exactly what you will find at the Golden Lion.

Burger Theory @ The Golden Lion, Gloucester Road, Bristol

When a new burger joint opens up in Bristol I feel it is my duty as a burger lover to get over there as soon as possible. Burger Theory aren’t new to the scene, they’ve been popping up at festivals and various events for a while but they have now taken over the kitchen at the Golden Lion on Gloucester Road.

The Golden Lion is a great little music pub with a variety of acts on most days of the week. It’s probably not the kind of place that you may expect to find a top burger. The menu runs to about 16 burgers and there is usually a special as well. That’s a lot of choice. I went for the Sheriff which was a beef and bacon burger topped with oak smoked cheddar, onion rings and bourbon BBQ sauce. Jo went for the Pork of the Town which was a pork, chorizo and Parmesan burger with sun dried tomato pesto. Burger Theory pride themselves on trying to do things differently, so when they say its a beef and bacon burger the bacon is actually in the burger. This gave the pattie a red hue and I also noticed some herbs and possibly some onion in there as well. Now anyone who knows me will know that I am not a fan of adding anything to a burger pattie. I think the quality of the meat should speak for itself. However in this case I may have to rethink that rule.

The pattie was full of flavour and the added ingredients really worked. My wife’s pork, chorizo and parmesan pattie was also bursting with flavour, working well with the pesto topping which didn’t overpower the other flavours. The bun was ok, pretty much a floury bap but it held up well. The fries came in a little basket and were nice and crispy and well seasoned. My wife went with the cheesy chips which were dripping in yummy cheese. They’d even put the cheese in layers rather than just on top which was a nice touch.

I was impressed with Burger Theory. They pay real attention to the flavour combinations and the burgers are well executed. You may not expect to find great burgers at a pub, but that’s exactly what you will find at the Golden Lion.

Filed under burger gourmet burger

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Bell’s Diner & Bar Rooms, Montpelier, Bristol

Bell’s Diner has undergone a few changes in its time. Its previous incarnation under chef Chris Wickes was definitely on the fine dining end of the scale. I’d not had the pleasure of tasting the food at Bells Diner although my wife assures me it was excellent. Bell’s Diner & Bar Rooms is a different beast altogether, the one thing it does share with its predecessor is top quality food (ok plus the same venue and name…). This new venture has a different ethos, during the day they do a tapas-style menu with 3 dishes for a tenner. But don’t let the price fool you, this is seriously good cooking. The menu changes weekly, possibly even daily using the freshest local ingredients. Chef Sam Sohn-Rethel’s style mixes Mediterranean flavours with those of Spain and North Africa and it turns out that this is an awesome combination.

My wife Jo and I decided to share 6 dishes between us and they were all incredible. The Salt Cod fritters (pictured) were beautifully cooked with a golden brown crispy coating. The simple mayonnaise dip proving the perfect foil to the salty fritters. The Spiced Lentils with Yoghurt and Coriander were delicious and the Chorizo and Morcilla (Spanish black pudding) was just naughty. The Lamb St Menehould with tartare sauce found Jo and I divided on opinion. The lamb breast is confited in duck fat and then deep fried. Its a heart attack in a snack but to my mind it really was rather good. Its quite a brash dish and it was too much for Jo, being the gentleman that I am I quite happily polished off her remaining piece.

All the dishes were carefully crafted and excellently executed. The Pickled Herring with potato and creme fraiche looked very simple but the flavours were spot on. The dish was really fresh with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon really bringing out the flavour of the herring. A surprisingly good dish. The unanimous favourite however was the Cauliflower slow cooked in yoghurt with brown butter and pine nuts (pictured). It may not sound or even look like a dish that would make you go weak at the knees but believe me it does just that. Whichever words I choose here will not do justice to just how yummy it was. It just tastes like heaven in your mouth. The first mouthful ended in a knowing look between us that silently said “Oh my god how good is that?!”. The creamy cauliflower (would i have guessed thats what it was if I hadn’t known? Probably not) was offset by the crunchy pine nuts with the richness of the brown butter bringing all the flavours together. The second time we visited we ordered one of these each.

I’m keen to visit at night to try their evening menu, I already have a few recommendations to try out. If its anything like their lunch menu in quality then I’m not likely to be disappointed. File under ‘Just go there’.

www.bellsdiner.com

Filed under Food Bell's Diner Tapas

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Bao Wow, Baldwin Street, Bristol

Bristol’s love affair with street food has really invigorated the area’s gastronomic scene. From Meat & Bread to Mi Casa to Grillstock I’m spoilt for choice when looking for good food without breaking the bank. I understand that Bao Wow is run by the same people who run the Thai Kitchen in the Fishmarket a few doors down. I’ve enjoyed many a delicious Thai meal at the Fishmarket’s Thai Kitchen so I had high hopes for Bao Wow.

Bao Wow brings to Bristol the unique street food flavours of Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and China. The menu is divided into Soups, Baos and Rice & Noodles. What excited me was the variety of Baos on offer. Being half Singaporean I’ve grown up with dim sum, it was a regular Sunday treat for the family. Char Siu Bao was always one of my favourite dishes. For those not familiar a Bao is a steamed bun which can be filled with meat or vegetables (or in some cases sweet fillings as well).

The Baos came with a variety of amazing fillings but we went for a Chairman Bao (braised pork belly served with crushed peanuts, coriander, hoisin sauce, dikkon radish & cress) and the Char Siu Bao (sweet roasted red pork served with spring onions, coriander & hoisin sauce). The Baos came cut open with the fillings piled on top. I’ve been used to closed buns with the fillings inside but having them open like this means that you can add some fresh ingredients on top, which really enhanced the flavours. The peanuts, coriander and cress  on the Chariman Bao (I like what they did there) gave it a real freshness. Both of the Baos were fantastic, really top notch. They do some other interesting fillings as well including Satay Chicken, Duck and Pulled Pork that I can’t wait to try.

We also shared a Spicy Chicken and Rice dish - Thai spiced chicken over garlic fragrant rice, pak choi, spicy yellow bean sauce, spring onions & coriander. The presentation of the dish looked great, the black bowl providing the perfect background for the green of the coriander and cucumber and the red of the chillis to really stand out. The dish was fairly spicy but not overly hot, just the right amount of zing, the heat was also offset beautifully by the sweetness of the yellow bean sauce. It was simply delicious. 

Walking past Bao Wow you may not be aware of the delights within. Hopefully this is soon to change. A mention in Crumbs magazine and a number of reviews in other blogs are increasing their exposure. Don’t take my word for it, give them a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

www.baowow.co.uk

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The Stable, Bristol

The sign outside claimed ‘Bristol’s Finest Pizza, Pies and Cider’ which was a quite a claim. One that I certainly felt obliged to test out. Bursting onto Bristol’s restaurant scene recently, The Stable has been getting some rave reviews. This is their second restaurant, the original being located in Dorset. As the sign outside pointed out this is a restaurant that focusses on three things, Pizza, Pies and Cider. I’d heard some good things about the Pizza so that was what I was eager to sample.

The menu is fairly similar to their Dorset restaurant but with some nice Bristol influences to the naming of the dishes. My wife and I shared 2 pizzas, we went for the Longhorn Jim (Longhorn ground beef, Bath Pig Co. chorizo, field mushrooms, roasted red onions, tomato and mozzarella topped with smoked West Country ham) and The Avonmouth Angler (Jackson’s smoked mackerel, smoked salmon, marinated spinach, tomato and mozzarella, topped with fresh parsley and lemon).

Both pizzas had perfect thin bases and were wonderfully crisp. The dough was also well seasoned which helped to bring out the flavour. Neither pizza overdid it on the cheese which was nice to see. A pizza that is swimming in cheese and oil is something that makes the more health conscious stay away from such delights. I’m a big meat eater so I was looking forward to the the Longhorn Jim and it didn’t disappoint with large slices of chorizo and tender chunks of ground beef.

The real standout for me however was the Avonmouth Angler. Delicious chunks of smoked mackerel and salmon were scattered about the pizza. A slice of lemon was provided which once squeezed over the pizza gave it a real zing. It was probably most tasty pizza I have ever eaten. The fish and lemon gave it a real freshness without any one flavour overpowering the other. I’ve already convinced some colleagues at work to go for lunch with me next week as I can’t wait to go again. The cider menu was also extensive with a great variety of cider on offer, unfortunately I was driving  so wasn’t able to sample any. I did notice that they did a taster rack of 5 ciders to try for around £8 which was a great idea for anyone unsure of which to go for.

The Stable does seriously good pizzas. Bristol’s best? I’d have to say yes! I guess I’ll have to sample the pies next but with pizza this good it’ll be hard to order anything else.

www.stablepizza.com

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Ruby Jean’s Diner @ Start the Bus, Bristol

Start the Bus occupies a spot that used to be the site of Edwards, a busy watering hole which was frequented by multitudes of lads in coloured shirts come the weekend. When Start the Bus sprung up in its place it was a different beast all together. The decor is a mish mash of styles but it all adds to the quirkiness of the venue. The dual purpose also serves them well, bohemian drinking hole by night and diner/cafe by day. At the weekend expect to see bands and Djs playing till the early hours with a diverse crowd of indie hipsters and club kids. 

I’d heard some good things about the burgers at Start the Bus and I’d been wanting to check out the food for a good few months now. The restaurant is known as Ruby Jean’s Diner, the name itself conjures images of traditional American Diner fayre. The menu hits the nail on the head in this respect. Burgers, Sliders, Deli Sandwiches and Mac ‘n’ Cheese. There were a fair few things that tempted me but it was always going to be the burger. You can build your own burger starting at £6.95 for a classic plus an extra £1 for each topping you wish to add. The burgers all come with fries as well so the prices are pretty reasonable. They also do 2 for 1 on burgers on Tuesdays which makes it even more of a bargain. I added pastrami and Emmental cheese, I would have had pickles as well but they were out. My wife Jo went for 2 sliders. One with pulled pork and smoked chilli jam and the other with chorizo and Emmental cheese.

My burger arrived on a plastic tray lined with greaseproof paper, pretty standard diner presentation. I’m perfectly happy to be served a burger in this manner in such a setting and it adds to the ‘authenticity’ of a diner style restaurant. The chips were fairly chunky with the skin on and although they could have done with a bit more crisping up they were tasty. The bun was very light and on first glances was a fairly standard burger bun, albeit minus the sesame seeds (I was happy about this as I’m not a fan of seeds on a bun). The bun was nicely toasted and actually held up really well to the end with a nice texture and flavour, so looks can be deceiving. The burger came with lettuce, tomato, onion, pastrami and Emmental cheese. The large slice of lettuce on the bottom of the stack was an immeditate problem. As soon as the stick which held it all together was removed the whole thing started to slide around and I almost lost the pattie at one point. So a little more thought on the fillings might be needed.

The pattie was nicely charred on the outside which gave it a nice crust. This is a must in my eyes, that caramelised crust helps to give a burger its deep flavour (along with some quality meat of course). Theres nothing worse than a pale burger that looks like it could have been boiled. On biting into the pattie it was immediately obvious that it had been cooked well done. I find this the deciding point in whether an establishment or even a chef understands burgers. Thats not to say that it will always ruin a burger but I’m immediately disappointed if I bite into a burger and don’t see some pink. Maybe chefs are worried about food poisoning but I see this all too often. In the worst cases the pattie gets dried out and is no longer juicy and enjoyable. Rant over, thankfully this wasn’t the case here, the burger was still juicy and also full of flavour. I think there may have been some ground onion in there which added some sweetness. So gripes aside I did really enjoy this burger, it was very tasty and I’d definitely come back again. My wife’s sliders went down well, the flavours working well together. At £4.75 for 2 sliders (no chips) this was a good option for someone who just wanted a ‘light bite’.

I’m slowly working my way through every burger in Bristol and its nice to find out about new places all the time. Ruby Jean’s Diner is definitely on my mental list of places to eat in Bristol when I’m looking for a burger or a quick lunch.

http://www.startthebus.tv/food