With so many strings to its bow given its status as a restaurant, brasserie, deli and wine bar, as well the home of the Bristol School of Food and Wine, it was unanimously envisioned that Bordeaux Quay would amount to nothing less than a masterpiece in terms of its culinary expertise. Subsequently, with a coveted Groupon* for a three course meal for two at the restaurant within our possession, it was fair to say that the Best Foodie Friend (BFF) and I were really rather excited about this particular dinner-date - with our table booked and the evening in question rapidly approaching, we simply couldn't wait to discover whether this prestigious venue exceeded our high expectations...
Date and Time: Thursday 12th January 2012, 19:00
Name of Establishment: Bordeaux Quay: The Restaurant*
Location: V-Shed, Canons Way - Bristol
Reason for Visit: Pre-Christmas Groupon purchase which the BFF and I couldn't wait to take advantage of!
Ushered up a grand wooden staircase to the second floor by our smartly attired host, the BFF and I were, in the first instance, invited to indulge in pre-dinner drinks amidst the plushly decorated lounge. Opting to kick-start the proceedings with a French 75 (£9.50) proved to be an exquisite experience; the cocktail itself comprising a decadent combination of Hendricks Gin, fresh lemon juice and sugar with a crisp measure of Perrier-jouët grand brut champagne to constitute a little fizz. However, its piste de resistance was to follow whereby, upon serving, a procedure took place which was as impressive as it was, no doubt, integral to the finished article's important balance of sweetness and tart. As, with a wave of his hands and a spritz or two from a small spray-bottle into the atmosphere above the glass, the bar-tender dispensed a fine mist of citrus oil which lent to the concoction the smell of old-school sherbet lemons and facilitated the fresh, palate-cleansing quality of what I consider the perfect aperitif. The BFF chose an Italian White; a 2009 Verdicchio Classico (Villa Bianchi, Umani Ronchi) which, at £4.50 for 175ml was vibrantly fruity with a distinct nuttiness - lovely.
Next, and with our slightly sipped drinks in tow, The BFF and I were shown to an intimately-placed table-for-two in the venue's elegant restaurant which, we were pleased to find overlooked the twinkling lights of the harbour below. This is a sophisticated space with high ceilings and a spacious ambiance as well as minimalistic décor which is punctuated with contemporary wall art and the odd touch of opulent flair. Tables had been dressed with crisp white linen and each line-up of polished silverware gleamed under the glow omitted from the chunky light fittings overhead which, coupled with sporadic candlelight contributed to an inviting and laid-back vibe. Top-end restaurants can so often lean towards being stuffy resulting in all manner of the 'we are not worthy' practice of whispered conversation but luckily this could not have been further from the case - our server, for instance, proving chatty and sweet as well as courteous and efficient; a rarity which reinforced, somewhat, our first impressions of this venue. To that end, we were firstly invited to choose from a rather well-stocked bread basket which, including the likes of malted sour dough and ciabatta, had been freshly baked on the premises that very morning. Encouraged to take more than just one piece eradicated any sense of adhering to an etiquette (whereby the question of; 'will I look like a glutton if I pile my dainty side-plate with carbs?!' did not have to enter one's mind) and being asked to pick from no less than four types of table water (we chose filtered tap), heightened our awareness of being within the domain of what we recognised as 'fine dining' at its finest!
Complimentary canapés came next which consisted of two pairs of bite-sized morsels; the first, a halved, deep-fried brussel sprout which, sandwiching a thin layer of anchovy paste, constituted an unusual union of two distinctively flavoursome foodstuffs. The second, a puffed gruyère cheese round with a creamy filling also packed quite a punch – in fact, so much so that, it's got to be said, I could have consumed a number more quite happily: yum! This amply whetted our appetites in readiness for the timely arrival of our starters; Root vegetable and roast pepper terrine with romanesco cauliflower for the BFF and Duck liver, mostarda di vaghera and pork terrine for me. Both dishes were beautifully presented, textbook in terms of the presence of colour and contrasting both in texture and taste. With so much going on, my terrine was unbelievably tasty; chunky and satisfying with crisp ciabatta toasts, an aromatic basil purée as well as a generous measure of orange and cranberry chutney to accompany the main event.
|Duck Liver, Mostarda di Vaghera and Pork Terrine|
|Root Vegetable and Roast Pepper Terrine|
Next, and following an appropriate wait between courses, our mains made their grand appearance. I had opted for the Rainbow chard, pine nut and goats cheese rotolo which, brushed with a saffron and sage butter, established a rich array of flavours across a varied spectrum; with low earthy notes giving way to a delicately fragrant after-taste – wow. The BFF had chosen to treat herself to the dish of chargrilled beef fillet, braised shin and oxtail; an experience which rendered her speechless for several minutes! When she regained her poise, she commented that this was, without a doubt, one of the best meals she'd ever had – the meat proving expertly cooked and the grilled polenta and roast garlic purée proving the perfect accompaniments.
|Rainbow Chard, Pine Nut and Goats Cheese Rotolo|
|Duo of Strudel|
Consequently, a fantastic night at a top-end restaurant; the faultless fare, polished yet comfortable surroundings and personable service made for an unforgettable experience. A glimpse at the price tags allocated to the dishes we had ordered warranted that sharp intake of breath; prices which, of course, were not applicable on this particular evening due to our beloved Groupon print-out. For a special occasion however - one that demands the wow-factor - this is clearly the place to book a table! Given that the restaurant's menu is altered Monthly in order to facilitate fresh, seasonal produce and to promote the provenance of the ingredients sourced, there is enough in terms of diversity to keep Bordeaux Quay's loyal following on-board. This, in addition to the fact that there are other aspects of this establishment to explore, (which, if the attention to quality is universal, will be well worth a visit), has certainly made me eager to return – the only problem is, with such a fantastic foodie foray to mark the beginning of 2012; the benchmark for fine dining has been well and truly set, I challenge Bordeaux Quay's counterparts to even come close...!
And now for the second opinion...
The BFF gave Bordeaux Quay a rating of 10/10 and in three words, described her evening as, 'rich', 'refined' and 'sublime' – praise indeed and deservingly so.