February 2017 marks the sixth 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!

Monday, 7 April 2014

The Clifton FoodFest and the Primrose Café

Receiving an invitation to the media preview week which would precede the Clifton FoodFest* simply has to be my top foodie 'win' of the year thus far. I mean, with no less than fifteen restaurants, cafés and delis taking part from within the upmarket confines of Clifton Village, this food-lover's festival would offer the public an opportunity to eat out for just £10 – bargain! As the brain child of the Business Improvement District (BID) for Clifton Village (formed in 2012 to support organisations within the region) and the first festival of its kind in the city, I saw it as an affordable means to explore the area's eateries. Plus, a reason to experience an establishment that I'd been meaning to visit for dinner (or specifically, for something a little more substantial than cake)...Cue the Primrose Café*, a picturesque and well-attended café-come-bistro that, given its location (on the cusp of the historic Clifton Arcade), allows for some pretty indulgent people-watching and more importantly, delivers what I'm told is first-rate fare. Let me be the judge of that....
Date and time: Wednesday 2nd April 2014, 7:30pm
Name of Establishment: Primrose Café
Location: 1 Clifton Arcade, Boyces Avenue, Bristol
Reason for visit: The Clifton FoodFest and two-course-for-£10 offer
Stepping into the Primrose Café at dusk denotes a relatively different experience to a daytime sitting whereby coffee, cake and the hubbub of the passing crowd altogether encapsulates what has become an institution amidst Clifton's successful café culture. I'm not sure what I was expecting if I'm honest but fancy table dressings coupled with bistro-style formalities were really rather removed from what I'd grown accustomed to following previous visits. This was not to its detriment I'll hasten to add as sure enough, the familiar cosiness of this laid-back space had remained intact whereby the passive duet of chatter and jazz as well as the warm glow from the abundant candlelight created the perfect ambiance for an upmarket dinner – it could have almost been romantic, if my dining companion hadn't been my mum!

We dined from the 'Early Bird' menu which we understood would also serve those attending as part of the FoodFest. The menu offered three options for each course at a price of £10 for two or £12.50 for three. Mum and I opted for two and were glad that we did in light of the complimentary appetisers which accompanied the arrival of our drinks (small glasses of the house white - a French Sauvingnon - which you could opt to add to your meal for a mere £2.50 each). Here, espresso cups of mushroom and truffle soup were drizzled with crème fraiche and accompanied with homemade sour dough – a little too sizeable to be considered appetisers in my view but a real treat nevertheless. Main courses were served promptly afterwards; the asparagus and wild garlic risotto for me and the mackerel fillet for mum; a dish which she enthused, was expertly executed - the fish itself proving succulent and tasty with the odd bone discovery excused in favour of its fresh appeal. She particularly enjoyed the aubergine and spring onion medley which, basking in the oil from the meat above, had been well seasoned with coriander, ginger and the kick of fresh chilli. The risotto was well portioned and thoughtfully plated; by which I refer to my life-long inability to knock-up an attractive rice dish! Instead, the asparagus contributed a little colour to the plate's overall aesthetic and punctuated the decadently creamy rice with an adequate crunch. I felt that the garlic content could have been elevated somewhat and yet, this is simply due to personal taste, (no vampires on me folks!)

It's fair to say that we were suitably impressed so far – not only with the gastronomical element of the evening but also with the efficient yet friendly disposition of the serving staff who altogether enhanced the relaxed atmosphere of the space. Despite being rather full up, mum and I powered through to the dessert course, rather taken with the lengthy menu of cheeses from which to choose the basis of your cheese board. Mum selected an Irish Ardrahan which, sourced from the neighbouring Arch House Deli, was honey-coloured to the eye and flavoursome to taste – its fragrant bite perfectly contrasting the sweet chutney that neatly crowned the fruit and cracker assortment. I opted for a diverse ensemble of sticky-sweet maple and pecan ice cream and tart raspberry sorbet, both of which had been made on the premises and delivered their flavours in bursts upon the palate. 

In conclusion, I'd certainly recommend the Primrose Café as a dinner-time domain (or, in fact, for any occasion) and without the incentive to visit courtesy of the Clifton FoodFest, I may well have remained amongst those who consider this fantastic spot an ample choice for lunch without ever learning of its after-hours alter ego! I think badging an establishment as a café can sometimes skew one's perception of its intentions...not to mention its opening hours! That said, perhaps with incentives like the Clifton FoodFest, the public will further experience the Primrose Café’s culinary expertise which is undoubtedly of restaurant quality; professionally delivered yet affordable. Couple that with the great service and pleasant surroundings which pull in scores of Cliftonites each and every day and you'll realise that there's a lot more to this Bristol go-to than meets the eye! What's more, the Clifton FoodFest doesn't end until Sunday 13th April so you still have a whole week in which to take advantage of the numerous money-saving meal options available in and around the village. What are you waiting for? Try somewhere new today! 

And now for the second option....
Mum gave the Primrose Café a rating of 10/10 and in three words, described her experience as 'impossible to fault'. Praise indeed.
For more  information about the Clifton FoodFest, including a full listing of the participating eateries and the deals that they're offering, click the link above.

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