The Best Foodie Friend (BFF) and I have become rather accustomed to Tart Café and Foodstore's Monthly 'after-hours' supper club and as this particular instalment promised the beautiful sun-drenched tastes of Spanish cuisine, we didn't hesitate to register our interest. One might say, not wanting to miss out on extending the Summertime which, for the most part, had dissolved into Autumnal chill within the blink of an eye.
Date and Time: Thursday 22nd September 2011, 19:30
Name of Establishment: Tart Café and Foodstore*
Location: 16 The Promenade, Gloucester Road-Bristol
Reason for Visit: Tart after Dark Spanish Supper Evening
I always love stepping into the calm Parisian precision of Tart – so fresh and neat in its décor that it feels a million miles away from the quirky mish-mash of its Gloucester Road setting. On this occasion, tables were simplistically arranged; each dressed with crisp white linen, a single church candle set within bubbled glass as well as a tasteful pairing of blooms spilling from a dainty miniature vase. It is the effortless sophistication here that never fails to impress; creating an air of calm within what had become a real hubbub of bodies and voices...apparently the BFF and I were not the only ones reminiscent of those hot Mediterranean evenings...
Upon being seated, we were treated to an aperitif of Colosia Fino sherry, served over ice in a champagne flute. This was a refreshing start and well-received, especially as this would constitute the only alcohol the BFF and I would indulge in (be it a school night) despite the fact that Darren Willis from nearby Grape and Grind* had again put together a list of suitably matched wines to compliment each course. Furthermore, introductory tipples had been supplemented with small bowls of Manzilla olives and roasted almonds – a nice touch that suitably whetted our appetites for the courses to follow.
First up, the tasting plate of tapas which consisted of a bite-sized Spanish omelette (unanimously considered delightfully fluffy and light), skewered vegetables, a handful of rocket drizzled with sweet balsamic and, the winner of this dish (for me at least), an individual croquette. The latter was perfectly formed; coated with crunchy breadcrumbs which gave way to a wonderfully creamy cheese and spinach filling – yum! However, I was a little perplexed by the vegetable skewer as despite my love-hate relationship with artichoke, it was (upon account of the BFF who ended up with a double portion) well-cooked and earthy and the cherry tomato, along with the black olives, deliciously plump and juicy; I just wasn't sure how the cube of cheese, albeit a good-quality and creamy variety, made it on to the end of the pin. Would it be fair to say that this was a little out of place or is there a specific Spanish tradition that I'm just not aware of, (answers on a postcard perhaps)!?
|Tapas Tortilla, Banderillas, Croquetas de Espinacas|
No ambiguity when it came to the main course though which unquestionably had the wow factor...melt-in-the-mouth slow braised pork, wrapped with crispy Parma ham and nestled in the centre, an ample wedge of spicy chorizo. This fantastic carnivorous parcel sat on a criss-cross of firm green beans and a saucy medley of tomato, chickpeas and roasted red peppers...not to mention an extra scattering of chorizo for good measure. The rich flavours bursting from this dish were really rather exquisite and, softened almost with a zesty lemon undercurrent, proved fresh yet wholesome – a combination which appropriately captured the sunshiny attributes of Spanish fare alongside the seasonal ingredients sourced and prepared back in good old Blighty. It's also to be noted how beautifully this dish had been plated which, as well sporting a 'proper-portion', (which incidentally the BFF and I now affectionately refer to as 'the Andrew Griffin effect' - Andrew being the head chef at Tart Café and Foodstore) therefore had been commendably balanced; proving both aesthetically pleasing as well as tasty and satisfying. Vegetarians were treated to a pumpkin, chickpea and vegetable stew which, served with saffron rice, sounded warming and flavoursome – I didn't catch a glimpse of this dish in the flesh but then again, I was so taken with my own main course that I’ll admit, at the time, I didn't really give the alternative a thought!
|Estofado de Carne de Cerdo, Garbanzos, Chorizo, Pimento asados|
As readers of my blog will know, I'm rather partial to the indulgence of dessert and yet, having never sampled yogurt cake thus far, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The result…a light and moistly textured sponge with that homely just-baked warmth – impressively executed especially as Andrew mentioned that he had trialled this dish for the first time just the evening before! Succulent orange segments and the icy zing of lemon granita were welcome accompaniments giving this dessert its citrusy freshness; hence, flavours which complimented the natural cultures of the yogurt entirely – lovely!
|Quesada de Yogurt, Granizado de Naranja y Limon|
Overall, another top-notch supper club experience courtesy of the 'Tart' team – food to knock your socks off and service which is attentive and as poised as the surroundings are chic. Scheduled for Thursday 27th October, I've been told that the next menu will constitute an autumnal French theme (further details to be confirmed in due course) and so, best to keep a close eye on the 'Lovely Tart' website as it’s sure to be a sell-out…For now though, thank you to Jennie, Ellen, Andrew and team for a truly enjoyable evening...until next time...!
And now for the second opinion…
And now for the second opinion…
The BFF gave the Tart after Dark Spanish Supper evening 9/10 and in three words, described the cuisine as ‘light’, ‘flavourful’ and ‘sunny’.