February 2018 marks the 7th anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Severn Shed - The Grove, Bristol

I've spent rather a lot of time in Severn Shed of late; once for dinner, a couple of times to snack from the Tapas-style 'small plates' menu but predominantly, to make the most of the (quite frankly awesome) two-for-one cocktail deal which runs from 4:00pm till close every single day. And, what better to balance out this money-saving common sense than with a little silliness...yes, I'm referring to the drunken frivolities brought about by too many passion fruit daiquiris – a phenomenon lovingly identified amongst my nearest and dearest with the #blamedaiquiri hashtag, (yes, we really are that cool!) Consequently, besides documenting what one can expect to find in terms of this venue’s overall ambiance, as well as the edibles it has to offer, this post will primarily factor as an ode to my new-found favourite tipple…

Date and Time: Miscellaneous - there have been SO.MANY.VISITS!
Name of Establishment: Severn Shed*
Location: The Grove, Bristol
Reason for Visit: See above

Given its ties to the popular chain restaurant, Coal Bar and Grill, it is surely to be commended that Severn Shed has managed to retain its sense of independence; feeling notably different to other outlets set-up within this seven-part franchise. Bristol's alternative Coal for instance, which is aptly placed amidst the family-friendly hubbub that encompasses the eateries flanking the top floor of Cabot Circus, seeming really rather removed from the sophisticated décor and cool minimalism apparent within the enviable harbour-side location of its sibling. Yes, having once existed in its own right as a dining establishment, Severn Shed seems to be marketed at a slightly more adult audience - the smart marble-topped bar and impressively-arranged florals effectively channelling an orchestrated sense of finesse. Furthermore, the intrigue of a former boathouse rumoured to have once belonged to the legendary engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, is always going to make for an engaging backdrop and, from the leather-effect booths that comprise the bar area to the alfresco action available from the river-side terrace, it is, in fact, only the emblem on the menu that links this venue to its parent company. Service is amply attentive and although I haven’t yet forgiven the boys behind the bar for my ‘birthday shot’ of 62% proof rum, it’s fair to say that an appropriate balance of friendly banter and welcomed standoffishness has been demonstrated during each and every visit.

The à la carte menu constitutes a mish-mash of (mostly) Mediterranean favourites which are accountable to Executive Chef, Antonio Dias; who originates from Coimbra, Portugal. Here, fresh fish, meat and seasonal produce is sourced, where possible, from local suppliers and from Chicken Schnitzel to Chimichanga, (hmm, not sure that Mexico is on the Med?!) and my personal favourite, the House Pizza – topped with Parma ham, goats cheese, artichoke, sun-dried tomato, rocket and fresh pesto – there really is something to suit every palate. For me, starting with a portion of the stone-baked garlic pizza bread (with melted cheese and caramelised red onion) is always a highlight, though you may wish to share this with a friend or two as it warrants a large appetite to finish the whole thing, especially of you are going to indulge yourself with that aforementioned House Pizza! Speaking of sharing, the small plates (available at £10.95 for three) are perfect if you’re after a range of tasty morsels to accompany a drink or two; my top picks include the paprika wedges which are served with a lemon and thyme crème fraîche and the warm chorizo with its oily, garlic bite.

When it comes to dessert, I've never been overly impressed with the dishes I've ordered whereby it seems that presentation exceeds substance; a cleverly woven arrangement of spun sugar attractively crowning each dish and yet proving teeth-breakingly inedible; at times, much like the mediocre pud which sits beneath it. That said, I have yet to sample the Bailey’s Crème Brûlée which I have on good authority, is really rather delicious! Personally though, I’ve always opted to save the money earmarked for dessert for another round of cocktails, (yes, yes…I have a problem!) Thus, without further ado, let me share with you the content of this coveted cocktail menu (which, you may wish to be note, is differently arranged at the Cabot Circus branch of Coal) – firstly, it’s important to be aware that the BOGOF offer denotes that both cocktails have to be the same and yet, the presence of the passion fruit daiquiri significantly minimises any aversion to this caveat. I mean, described as ‘moreish’ and ‘dangerously drinkable’ by my cocktail-drinking companions, whilst combining white rum with passion fruit purée, sugar, lime and a touch of coconut liqueur (which is the unofficial 'extra' ingredient that really seals the deal in terms of its deliciousness), it really is an addictive tipple. Plus, taking you to a sunshiney spot within the realms of your imagination, (come on, we all know that summer's been cancelled this year), this is a beach-bar beverage and then some...yet at £3.75 a pop, it’s significantly cheaper than a flight to the Costa del Sol! Just in case this isn't your bag (seriously?!) I should probably mention that there are a total of six cocktails to choose from this specific line-up and also, a number which amount to only £4.75 within the ‘Happy Hour’ remit including the likes of the classic Cosmopolitan and a rather zesty Apple Martini – yum!
Daiquiri Action
In conclusion, Severn Shed is an ample choice for both edibles and/or a well-timed drink or two. I’d suggest that it indubitably outshines its Cabot Circus based equivalent; arguably serving a more varied clientèle and even boasting a DJ that helps facilitate a party atmosphere post 9:00pm. For, although Coal is predominantly a restaurant, Severn Shed is attended as a bar in its own right and certainly for me, its fare is not its USP - although it is altogether satisfactory, I’ll re-visit time and time again in response to the lurid pull of that decidedly divine passion fruit daiquiri…
And now for that all-important second opinion...
In three words, friend 'PAWS' summed up the appeal of Severn Shed as 'alfresco cocktail quaffing' and gave the venue a rating of 8/10 – would we be quite so keen without its 'signature' tipple? The jury's out...


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