Although the date had been settled upon for the next nosh and natter meet-up with the Best Foodie Friend (BFF), the venue had not. Cue an opportunist online deal which brought the umming and ahhing to an abrupt halt – a starter and main course, plus a glass of wine each, at Chin! Chin! Bar and Kitchen for a mere £21. It was a no brainer really, especially as this visit would constitute the first for both the BFF and I, thus, excitingly deviating beyond the tried and tested to a portion of Bristol which until now, had remained somewhat unexplored...
Date and Time: Tuesday 9th August 201, 19:30
Name of Establishment: Chin! Chin! Bar and Kitchen*
Location: St Michael's Hill, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Dinner-date with the BFF
Stepping in to Chin Chin Bar and Kitchen after the tiring ascent from the foot of St. Michael's Hill was rather a relief. This is an instantly welcoming space – friendly, comfortable and intimately arranged. The well-thought-out décor couples sophistication with an element of shabby-chic finesse whereby classically swirled wallpaper, canvassed art and scatter cushions underpin the reds, pinks and golds of its colour scheme. The attention to detail also extends to the lighting and background euphonies – I loved the branched red fairy lighting overhead which, paired with candlelight, made for a subdued glow, (in fact so subdued that my photographs came out rather grainy as you will see later!) The tinkling jazz, muddled with the buzz from a full-house of diners, completed the chilled-out ambiance and had the BFF and I picking out tracks that we recognised - "Rose Rouge" by St. Germaine (from 'Serendipity'; one of my favourite chick flicks) was my input to this conversation. Anyway, I digress…
Onto the food and after settling on a glass of the house white each, The BFF and I decided upon the content of our two-course feast from the bistro-style menu, (feast being the operative word as I will shortly explain). In true mutually-minded foodie-friendship, both the BFF and I started with the soup of the day which was a rather sizeable portion to say the least – steaming hot, thickly textured and supplemented with not one, but two hunks of warmed sour dough. However, described by our server as simply, Provençal Tomato, this did not disclose its other cardinal ingredient...an ample measure of chilli which, alongside the deep richness of fresh tomato, gave this dish an unmistakable kick! Tending to avoid anything spicy, the BFF struggled a little (which subsequently, supported the notion of incorporating this element into the title of the dish) but I loved the punchy heat which warmed the palate long after our dishes had been cleared.
|Provençal Tomato (and Chilli) Soup|
When it came to main courses, we were again overwhelmed by how generously they had been plated and yet, not to the detriment of their presentation as both dishes were intricately built and hence, enjoyed visually before even a mouthful had been taken. I had opted for the confit of duck leg which, tender beneath its tasty skin, had been topped with crisped bacon and black cherry compote. The contrasting flavours here were perfectly executed; the bitter-sweet of the fruity glaze complimenting the subtle saltiness of the meat. Fluffy ‘bacon-roasted’ potatoes, shredded cabbage and thick carrot batons were ample accompaniments although, in my opinion, would have benefited from a greater measure of gravy or jus. The BFF was more-than-happy with her braised shin of beef which, beautifully textured, just fell off the bone. She suggested that the potatoes were a little under-seasoned and yet, salt and pepper had been brought to the table, (coalesced in an espresso cup and saucer which I considered a quirky touch). That aside, she loved the caramelised onions which she found nestled in the crook of the shin bone as, in her view, they added an extra dimension to the dish; an obvious sweetness to counteract the fundamentally earthy notes brought about by the meat and the vegetables. Finally, her main had been had been capped with a humongous Yorkshire Pudding resulting in the BFF having to admit defeat – a rare occurrence by her own admission!
|Confit of Duck Leg|
|Shin of Beef|
Feeling satisfied and full, the BFF and I had originally decided against dessert and yet, a mere five-minute breather was all it took in which to change our minds. I blame the fantastic line-up on offer for this blatant dent in our willpower, in particular, the ‘House Signature’ double chocolate brownie which incidentally we ordered…to share! This was divine with just the right balance of warm, gooey chocolate under a (uniquely) thick, crunchy lid. Crème Fraiche was an ideal accompaniment due to its neutral twang which brought out the richness of the dark chocolate to perfection – ice cream can sometimes prove hard-going alongside this dessert and hence, this modification made for a refreshing alternative.
I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Chin! Chin! and judging from the content chatter filling the space for the duration of our visit, I think it’s fair to say that the feeling was unanimous. Given that this venue has been open less than a year, it has indubitably rooted itself in the community with its exceptional cuisine; offering pub portions at restaurant quality. It's this, along with the cosy, home-from-home feel which, accentuated by the friendly, accommodating nature of the staff, which makes for a truly top-notch evening. In fact, observe this venue in its former glory on Google Maps (street view) just to see how far it’s come! In conclusion, initially lured by a tempting online discount, I have once again stumbled upon another of Bristol’s foodie gems. Furthermore, in regards to the deal itself, the BFF and I were delighted to discover that there were similar arrangements in place on a regular basis. Coined as the ‘Early Bird’ deal, two courses and a glass of wine comes in at just £10 from Tuesday to Saturday, 5:00pm - 6:45pm which, in addition to the set ‘Pre-Theatre Menu’ offers the venue's fantastic fare at particularly reasonable prices. And so, as the old saying goes, this early bird will certainly catch the worm, in other words…I will most certainly be back!
And now for the second opinion…
The BFF gave Chin! Chin! Bar and Kitchen a rating of 9/10 and in three words described her experience as, ‘generous’, ‘cosy’ and ‘relaxed’.