Hunting for Bristol Zoo Gardens' Wow! Gorillas* colony had led The Boy and I to Avon Gorge Hotel (to tick number 40 aka 'Winston', off the list) and it was at this time that we noted the early-evening dinner offer whereby two courses amount to just £9.95 (and three to £11.95). Unable to resist a bargain, we booked up to return as a Friday night treat and consequently, found ourselves sat overlooking Bristol's most recognisable landmark as the sun set on the end of our working week...
Date and Time: Friday 5th August 2011, 18:45
Name of Establishment: Bridge Café, Clifton
Location: Avon Gorge Hotel, Sion Hill-Bristol*
Reason for Visit: Date Night with The Boy
Stepping into Avon Gorge Hotel's breezy restaurant, The Boy and I were met by a scatty yet likeable blond who would be our server for the majority of the evening. We were shown to a corner table-for-two; intimately arranged just inside the floor-to-ceiling glass sliders which marked the entrance to the decked exterior terrace. Our squintable view of Brunel's Suspension bridge was ample and the décor was perceived as sophisticated minimalism – neat and clean and yet, anything more fussy would surely have been overshadowed given the presence of such an iconic backdrop!
Opting each for a glass of the Pinot Grigio Blush as well as a chilled jug of table water, The Boy and I perused the 'prix fixe' menu which had to be 'borrowed' from the kitchen as there hadn't been enough printed for the duration of the evening. We both chose two courses; he, a starter and a main and I, a main and a pud; we found it a little cheeky that all but two of the main courses were offered at a supplement, thus limiting one's choices should they wish to remain within the £9.95 remit as originally advertised. Even the bread basket was offered at an extra £1.50, which I know is not especially expensive (especially given that the bread itself had a rich malty flavour and a seeded finish) and yet, this is usually complimentary at a restaurant of this calibre.
The Boy's starter arrived and after discovering that his original choice, the soup of the day was an unappealing combination of celery and thyme, he opted instead for the roasted vine tomato and mozzarella bruschetta. This was beautifully plated, the elements carefully layered and finished with equal measures of basil oil and balsamic drizzle. The Boy reported that this dish was fresh, well balanced (both literally and in terms of the way in which the flavours married together) and the bruschetta itself had proven successfully crisp.
Main courses followed and again were served with notably top-notch presentation. I had chosen the chicken, chorizo and tomato cannelllini bean stew which, perhaps masquerading as a casserole, was richly flavoursome with a worthy heat brought about by the combination of the subtly-spiced sausage and the tang of tomato. This was a considerably hearty dish with a Mediterranean essence, bringing with it connotations of summertime and so proving rather fitting for the evening's proceedings. The Boy had gone for the shin of beef (at a £2 supplement) which he commented was, 'cooked to perfection'. Accompaniments constituted piped mashed potato which was as buttery as it was smooth, and crisp green beans; served a little too 'al dente' for The Boy's palate but vibrant and fresh nevertheless. The red wine jus completed this dish, bathing its elements in rich, earthy notes which drew out the tastiness of the beef in particular.
|Chicken, Chorizo and Tomato Cannelllini Bean Stew|
|Shin of Beef|
It's fair to say that I was somewhat excited when it came to dessert - traditional sticky toffee pudding which was served with a single strawberry and a shallow moat of caramel sauce. This was warmed-through and unmistakeably indulgent with an overarching burnt sugar aroma and a dense, sticky texture that just left you...well me, wanting more! However, I thought that the dish would have benefited from a dollop of good quality vanilla ice cream or even a little more of the caramel sauce as, towards the end of its existence, the pudding had cooled, it's texture become less mailable and thus, a little hard-going without a suitable aspect to moisten it.
|Sticky Toffee Pudding|
I thought that Avon Gorge Hotel's Bridge Café warranted an enjoyable end to what had been a busy week. There was no denying that the food was well-prepared and presented; neither The Boy nor I could fault what we had been served as everything had been wonderfully tasty, generously portioned and satisfying as a result. Yet, the service we had experienced had been a little hit and miss as the waiting staff, despite maintaining a friendly demeanour, were fairly difficult to pin down once the restaurant became further attended. In addition to this, although I should have remembered the etiquette in regards to 'hotel prices', the £5.25 price tag given to a small glass of rosé was, in my view, bordering on extortionate - not to mention all the supplementary charges which facilitated racking up our bill even further! Overall though, the location of this venue is indubitably at the forefront of its appeal; the views from the terrace and courtyard below are stunning, especially when the sun is shining – it's a great place for those who love Bristol to see it in all its emblematic glory! For that reason, I'm sure that The Boy and I will be back, though perhaps next time we'll embrace our patriotism over a tipple in the hotel's 'White Lion Bar', leaving the restaurant for the next time we're feeling particularly flush!
And now for the male opinion...
The Boy gave The Café, Clifton a rating of 8/10 and in three words, described his experience as 'totally gorge-ous grub!'