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!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Veeno, Bristol

Hold the phone lunchtime lushes and aprés-office party people, I have a newfound fave that offers the best in that winning combination of meat, cheese and wine. It's not a coincidence that I've visited Bristol's branch of Veeno* three times in the space of a week (yes, really) so I think it's high time I shared the reasons for this dedication/obsession (delete as you see fit)....

Date and Time: Erm, shall we just say February 2017?!
Name of Establishment: Veeno
Location: 1 Glass Wharf, Temple Way
Reason for Visit: In no particular order...Meat, cheese and wine!

‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways’…Or, here is my comprehensive list which details Veeno’s most attractive attributes. Enjoy…

- It’s suitably located for the worker bees inhabiting the offices that adorn Temple Quay and thus, Veeno is an ample go-to for a spot of luncheon, a client meeting (if that’s your bag) or after-work drinky-poos - the latter suitably enhanced by the hours of Aperitivo (or, ‘Aperiveeno’ if you will) which means that complimentary nibbles are brought to your table with any drink purchased between 17:00 and 20:00.

- Veeno serves Sicilian wines from the founders' family’s vineyard which dates back four generations. This, along with authentic Italian Spuntini – or, little snacks and appetisers to enhance your tipple – means that the quality of the ingredients is quite simply cracking. To that end, try the Gorgonzola with a touch of the truffle honey and the Salame di Cervo (super tasty air-dried venison) with a glass of the Giumara, Nero d’Avola. So.Good!

- A selection of the restaurant’s most-popular wines and products are available to purchase to take-away. You can also order via Deliveroo* (so I’m told…hurry up and service North Bristol for pity's sake!) or from Veeno’s online store; meaning that you can feed and water yourself from the comfort of your own home. Just don't mention the 'Skinny Prosecco' which is seemingly the most recent string to this venue’s bow and in my opinion, rather too gimmicky to establish itself alongside the finer wines on offer. It may well taste fantastic – containing less residual sugar will ultimately create a drier, perhaps crisper finish - but the cringeworthy name just has to go!

- The lunchtime deal whereby any standard Panini is accompanied by a complimentary glass of wine (or soft drink for the faint-hearted) is an absolute bargain. I mean, a humble fiver for a generously portioned ensemble of Nduja (spicy, spreadable sausage), mozzarella and sundried tomato paté sandwiched within a crisp Piadina, swilled down with the house rosé – a rich, fruity Syrah – is unquestionably a no brainer!

- The service is spot on. You know that fine balance between remaining attentive and becoming invasive? Veeno have it just right. This makes for a comfortable atmosphere; even if you happen to be sitting on your own…I was waiting for a friend, honestly!

- Veeno offer wine tasting sessions for not a lot of dollar. Wine flights start from £10 per person and the classic tasting (priced at just under £20) is made up of six wines which are paired with Spuntini; the sixth a dessert wine to accompany a portion of homemade Tiramisu! You can purchase gift cards too which arguably constitutes the perfect pressie…Hey, isn’t Mother’s Day coming up? (Sorry to ruin the surprise Mama Ros…) Furthermore, sign up to receive news and information as part of the ‘Veeno Club’ and you receive a complimentary tasting on your birthday – I don’t think I’ve ever filled in an online form so quickly!

- The menu is informative and the staff knowledgeable which means that you can be guided towards your perfect combination of meat and cheese, plus, the ideal wine or wines to pair with your spoils. Tasting notes for pretty much everything on the menu really aids the selection process without having to bother the staff with a million and one questions.

- I haven’t got as far as the wine cocktails yet but the Veenopolitan is at the top of my list for the next time I visit (which, let’s face it, will probably be within the next few days!) It mixes that aforementioned house rosé with vodka, peach juice and fresh strawberries – a combination which could fool you into thinking that it’s summer...well, maybe! I’m aware that this isn’t exactly a reason but a menu that includes original cocktails – along with a handful of my absolute faves (yes, Espresso Martini) – is surely a win. 

- Finally, presentation – they say that you taste with your eyes prior to taking the first mouthful and…well…just look at this...

Need I say more...?


Thursday, 16 February 2017

PIGSTY, Cargo at Wapping Wharf

Cargo at Wapping Wharf* is arguably the city's most exciting new development and as such, I couldn't wait to explore what each converted shipping container had to offer...Starting with a carnivorous luncheon at the novelly-named PIGSTY*. Now, Bristol's burger scene is undoubtedly next-level and thus, there was a high expectation that this newcomer would meet the bar set by its well-established, bap-happy counterparts. However, what we found was a mixed trough of faultless flavour versus questionable service and value for money. Read on to learn more...

Date and time: 11 February 2017, 14:00 approx.
Name of Establishment: PIGSTY
Location: Units 1&2, Cargo 1, Wapping Wharf
Reason for Visit: A late-lunch pig-out!

It was a good day when the three brothers that founded The Jolly Hog brought a restaurant to our fair city that would specialise in all things porky and I figured that it would be an even better day when I'd get to sample its wares. And so, hungrily stepping into the quirky container and shown to the only free table within the suitably intimate space, it wasn't long before silence descended upon our party of four as menus were unfolded and scrutinised. Now, to get the low point of our experience out of the way, I have to say that the server we had was really rather solemn and clearly considered herself too cool to be dealing with the likes of our rabble! I mean, aloof didn’t cut it and a smile would have gone a long way, especially as we would imminently rack up a bill that would set us back well over 60 big ones! As a minimum, she should have written down our order as it was twice delivered to our table incorrectly and without an apology....Not a good start...

Service aside, I have to say that the quality of the fare itself was first rate and the 'Pig Mac' (£9), although a little tepid, was bloody delicious; the slow-roasted BBQ’d pulled pork and cheesy ‘Baconaise’ that topped the pork patty really packing in the flavour in terms of what constituted a juicy, meaty feast of epic proportions. The Hoguettes (£5) too were indulgent and flavoursome whereby that same slow-roasted pork (shoulder to be precise) had been encased within a perfectly crisped crumb. The addition of the restaurant’s seemingly signature sauce – that aforementioned Baconaise - really sealed the deal here and in fact, my only gripe was that I could have done with a couple more…You know those moments when you don’t want what you’re eating to end?...That! I thought that for nine whole pounds, a side of fries would be a standard accompaniment for PIGSTY’s burgers but alas, they were a further £3.50 (or £4.50 if, like me, you have a weakness for sweet potato fries). Instead, the ‘raw slaw’ that was offered received mixed reviews – I considered it well-seasoned and enjoyed that it wasn’t as ‘wet’ as coleslaw had the tendency to be elsewhere but others didn’t appreciate its simplicity and suggested that ultimately, it just didn’t complement the main event.

To wash everything down was to choose from a small yet perfectly formed selection of drinks and although the Craft Ales (‘oh hai, Wiper and True!’) were a tad on the expensive side, I thought that a 125ml glug of the house wine for £3.50 was fair game. I opted for the ‘Pinoso Tinto’ which was pleasingly palatable.  

Overall, I think PIGSTY will be a takeaway affair for me in the future. I have no doubt at all that the thoughtfully-sourced ingredients will constitute a cracking bacon sarnie to enjoy 'on the trott' but I'm not sure that, given the comparable quality elsewhere (and for less spondoolies to boot), that I'd 'sit-in' for a full-on pig-out. Here's hoping that this review doesn't make me too unpopular amongst my fellow foodies and that my next visit to Cargo warrants a more gushing reception.