A lot of thought went into choosing a suitable location for Friday night's dinner plans with the Best Foodie Friend (BFF). We each had our own criteria; she, a venue special enough to warrant enduring a gruelling working week for, and I, value for money due to a serious lack of funds! We agreed on Riverstation, which we discovered would (at our intended time of visit) offer their top-end modern European cuisine across three menus, each with ample choice and at an affordable price...perfect!
Date and Time: Friday 8th July 2011, 19:00
Name of Establishment : Riverstation*
Location: The Grove, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Dinner date with the BFF
Seated within the airy top-floor restaurant overlooking the river and rainy outside terrace area, I was instantly impressed with the sophisticated vibe of this light and contemporary space. Floor-to-ceiling windows and tasteful minimalism created a spacious feel despite the venue's rapidly increasing population. With our coats whisked away for safekeeping, it was noted how friendly and efficient the service is – our server in particular made the BFF and I feel as though nothing was too much trouble and answered any questions we had with informative yet smiley responses.
The aforementioned menus were presented as follows: the à La Carte , (unfortunately just a little out of my price range on this occasion), the set menu (which changes daily and offers two courses for £14.75 and then the option of a third for an additional £3.75) and the Café Hour Menu (which offers a main meal with a drink for £9 from 6:00pm – 7:15pm Monday-Friday). BFF opted for the two-course set menu and I muddied the waters, choosing initially from the Café Hour menu and following this up with a dessert from the set menu which had particularly caught my eye!
Before our main courses arrived, our server brought a large basket of complimentary rustic breads to choose from – I selected a flavoursome fennel and sultana wholemeal and the BFF chose a hunk of the focaccia which was also reportedly delicious. It can be said that this amply whetted our appetites for main courses which were on the whole, very well received. The BFF's 'Jacob's Ladder' or, short rib of beef, was not quite as tender as she had anticipated but was satisfyingly tasty nevertheless. This was served with spinach, a velvety textured mash and peppercorn sauce which was wonderfully tangy without overpowering the dish. My main course constituted the smoked haddock and dill risotto which, I have to say, was beautifully presented (something I feel is notoriously difficult to achieve with a course of predominantly rice). The sticky indulgence of this course, was, for me, divine. The fish was light, flaky and had certainly not been scrimped upon and although clearly the dominant ingredient, the parmesan had that fresh, familiar pungency which I thoroughly enjoyed.
|Jacob's Ladder - from the Set Menu|
|Smoked Haddock and Dill Risotto - from the Café Hour Menu|
There wasn't much time to rest after our empty plates had been cleared as desserts were served almost immediately. As previously mentioned, I was able to choose from the set menu – namely, the warmed chocolate brownie which had been packed with walnuts and topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream as well as a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a dusting of cocoa powder. Unfortunately, I was still rather full from my risotto so probably didn't enjoy this pud as much as I would have, had I been given a little more time to rest between courses. That said, it was hard to resist its rich chocolaty appeal despite the growing pain in my stomach! The BFF was served the lemon syllabub which she reported was smooth and creamy with a unmistakably boozy hit! Furthermore, the accompanying sable biscuits were delicately crisp with a melt-in-the-mouth finish.
|Chocolate and Walnut Brownie - from the Set Menu|
|Lemon Syllabub - from the Set Menu|
When it came to drinks, I settled for the house white as it had been incorporated as part of my 'Café Hour' dinner. However, I couldn't help but eye-up the cocktail menu which, for around the six-pound mark, offered an attractive choice of original creations as well as a number of classic combos. The 'Wild Plum' would have proven top of my tipple selection muddling wild turkey bourbon, choya plum liqueur, apple juice and fresh lime – delish!
I entirely enjoyed my evening at the Riverstation restaurant – with its classy ambiance and somewhat faultless fare, I certainly plan to sample more of what this venue has to offer. I may well visit the Bar+Kitchen next time, perhaps for a spot of brunch or a cocktail or two. After all, if other aspects of this venue are of a similar quality to those experienced by the BFF and I, I'd certainly be onto a winner!
And now for the second opinion...
The BFF gave Riverstation a rating of 9/10 and in three words described her experience as, 'elegant, nuanced and tasty'.