February 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Tart after Dark Retro Supper

Since the onset of my descent into the addictive world of Twitter, it has become increasingly apparent how this social networking tool has facilitated keeping abreast of what is happening in a particular domain. In my case, I’d been ‘following’ a number of like-minded foodies for some time, noting the constant advertisement of local eateries, markets and events with interest. On this occasion, I happened to hear of an upcoming event at ‘Tart Café and Foodstore’ on Bristol’s Gloucester Road; a ‘Retro’ 70s-themed supper, headed by the venue’s lead chef, Andrew Griffin. These ‘Tart after Dark’ evenings are renowned within the foodie circle as unmissable and so, I attended the evening alongside the Best Foodie Friend (BFF) with high expectations of what it had in store…I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Date and Time: Thursday 26th May 2011, 19:30
Name of Establishment: Tart Café and Foodstore*
Location: 16 The Promenade, Gloucester Road-Bristol
Reason for Visit: Tart after Dark Retro Supper Evening

Attending this event constituted my first visit to Tart and I was sorry that this had been the case thus far. With a comfortable, friendly ambiance and clean, crisp décor - think tiled/wooden floors, pastel colours and wicker baskets, Tart provides a (more stylish) home-from-home experience. On this occasion, furniture had been set out to accommodate the 40+ guest-list and yet amazingly, the space didn't feel at all cramped. Finishing touches in the form of candles in bubbled glass jars and miniature vases of lemon-coloured flowers adorned each table and it wasn’t long after the subtle 70s soundtrack began that our aperitif arrived; Greg’s Pit Blackeney and Butt Herefordshire Perry, (a twist on the old-school classic, Babycham).

This introductory tipple perfectly whetted our appetites for the appetiser, a larger-than-life mushroom vol-a-vent. Flaked puff pastry encased juicy button mushrooms and ceps in a creamy sauce flavoured with garlic and parsley – just divine! This led to the delivery of our starters and both BFF and I had shunned the Seafood Cocktail (which for the record was beautifully presented and reportedly delicious) for the French Onion Soup. The rich aromas as well as the exquisite sweetness of this dish were, on account of the Chef, a result of the following; a five-hour stint in the oven for the the onions, thus developing their caramelised tenderness, home-made vegetable stock and a generous splash of Madeira. The Gruyere cheese toasts provided contrast in terms of texture and taste and were therefore a most suitable accompaniment .

Mushroom Vol-a-Vent
French Onion Soup

I was grateful for a little wait before mains were served as courses thus far had been delivered in notably ample portions! The Duck à l'Orange was no exception and consisted of several slices of duck breast as well as a confit of duck leg in a port and orange sauce. Although I found that the cutlets were not quite pink enough for my palate, the crisped confit had a scrumptiously flavoursome tang with the familiar salty undertones with which this dish are accustomed. The accompanying Duchesse potato was almost too pretty to devour - presented as a swirl of creamy mash inside a lightly browned coating. The rich buttery taste of this addition complimented the fresh flavours of the peas and Chantenay carrots and gave this dish a real feel-good factor.
Duck à l'Orange
Vegetarians were treated to twice-baked cheese soufflé, which unfortunately, I did not catch a glimpse of!

The pièce de résistance was arguably the pudding. The stacked Black Forest Gateaux featured the lightness of chocolate sponge, the decadence of thick whipping cream and the zing of Morello cherries – sandwiched together and drizzled with thick chocolate and cherry sauces – yum! This really was the perfect end to an impressive line-up of dishes and just when we thought we were finished...the chef brought out surprise petits fours in the form of miniature lemon meringue pies! These melt-in-the-mouth morsels were bite-sized shortcrust pastry cases topped with a dollop of lemon curd and flourish of sticky meringue goo – seriously good!

Black Forest Gateaux

Mini Lemon Meringue Pies
I was so full-up by this point that I had to decline the offer of coffee or tea and although BFF and I decided not to partake in the consumption of wine on this occasion, it was noted that the enticing wine list, made available at the beginning of the evening, (selected from Darren Willis from Grape and Grind) had been expertly put together to pay homage to popular wines of the 70s as well as identifying suitable matches to the four dishes. 

I didn’t experience the 70s first-hand but if tonight’s culinary delights were anything to go by, it was a great era, (fire up the time machine!) I shall definitely return to Tart – the quality of the food is undoubtedly top-notch which, in addition to value for money (tonight’s feast costing just £30 per head) and the friendly-nature of the service makes for a fabulous visit. What’s more, BFF and I were informed that the next ‘Tart after Dark’ evening would constitute a ‘Tastes of Summer Supper’, featuring such dishes as ‘Gazpacho, ‘Salmon in Pastry’ and ‘Strawberry Shortcake’– check out the website for more information, I can’t wait to put my name down! 

And now for the second opinion... 
BFF gave Tart after Dark Retro Supper a rating of 9/10 and in three words described it as, 'rich', 'satisfying' and 'retro'! 

* http://www.lovelytart.com/

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