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Ivy Clifton Brasserie Review

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Ivy Clifton Brasserie

I dined at the Ivy Clifton Brasserie for the first time this week and I have to say, the food was pretty damn good. Not only was the food itself delicious, it was served with such care (silver ramekins, linen napkins, Italian glassware, smartly dressed/friending waiting staff), that you really felt like you were there for an experience, not simply a meal.

The unique Ivy brand is one with which most of us are familiar due to the infamous London establishment, and its more relaxed Bristolian sister eatery certainly does the culinary dynasty justice.

We parked in the heart of Clifton Village and headed over to the restaurant which can be found on the corner of Caledonia Place and The Mall, overlooking The Mall Gardens.

ivy clifton outside

We wanted to try out the £21 set menu which changes every 2 weeks. I’m often sceptical about set menus. Although they are usually quite good value for money, the choices are often limited and when you see your dining partner tucking into their a la carte feast, it can be somewhat of an anti-climax pour vous.

When I saw the options for the Brasserie’s set menu I wasn’t blown away (3 starters, 4 mains, 3 puddings) but the key to their success, it seems, is executing those couple of dishes to the nth degree and then mixing that up every few weeks.

ivy menu

As you walk through the rather grand entrance, you’re greeted by the beautiful (and enormous) pink and white blossom feature. There’s an abundance of chic and quirky paintings and photos as far as the eye can see. Dark wood panelled doors, light tan leather couches, plush blue velvet seats, candles on each table, vintage lamps, quirky tiled floors and the hum of jazz – right up my street. It’s cosy but light and airy, old fashioned but chic due to the colour scheme.

clifton brassiere inside

The orangery continues in the same theme but has tropical greenery hanging from ceiling features, white marble tables and a view of the small, pretty walled courtyard behind. As soon as we sat down, we were quickly greeted with menus and glasses of champagne. Now, that’s good service.

To kick things off, I opted for the seasonal soup with creamed cauliflower, crumbled Stilton, capers and parsley. The creamy, piping hot liquid arrived in a small sliver jug with the rest of the goodies already in a bowl. It was rich, but not too overwhelming due to the potion size and actually went down a real treat. The cheese and capers were unusual for a soup, but were a great combo.

soup

The hubby went for smoked mackerel rillettes with lemon pepper and granary toast. It was yummy but not for the fish faint hearted.

fish

For the main event I had the seasonal risotto with butternut squash, sage and goats cheese, with a herb leaf salad. This was the star of the show. OMG. It was seriously good. The risotto was creamy and rich with a whole slab of slightly molten goats cheese on top. The squash was crispy and sweet and the salad brought it all together.

main at clifton brassiere

Dave went for the steak with garlic butter and thick cut chips. The meat was full of flavour and the chips still had the skins on – our fave. We did feel the meat could have been rarer however.

Puddings were classic and excellent.

We shared a crème brûlée and silver bowl of vanilla ice cream with warm salted caramel sauce. The crème brûlée’s sugar crust wasn’t overdone or too thick. It was thin, slightly crunchy and the mixture beneath sweet and smooth. Now, I think I may have a slight addiction to salted caramel. So when the ice cream arrived with a jug – yes, a jug – of the stuff, I was one happy lady.

For £21, we were very impressed. The portions were just right, the food high quality and the chic ambience was spot on. You can catch the set menu from 11.30am-7pm.

We left feeling full, a little giddy and wanting another portion of dessert – #nomnomnom.

The Ivy Clifton Brasserie is open seven days a week and serves breakfast, brunch (Saturday + Sunday), lunch, afternoon tea, light snacks and dinner as well as cocktails. Last month, they also launched the ‘build your own’ waffle menu (Saturday and Sunday 11.30am-4pm).

Head to the website to find out more www.theivycliftonbrasserie.com

Instagram & Twitter: @ivycliftonbrass, Facebook: theivycliftonbrasserie

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New Year Menu Twist at Woky Ko

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Woky Ko launch new menu

Nestled in Wapping Wharf on Bristol’s buzzing harbourside, Woky Ko: CARGO swung open its doors in late-October, 2016 – capturing attention with a bold menu of delicate flavours. Talented chef-owner Larkin Cen has recently added to the family with Park St’s Woky Ko: Kauto, and the two combined offer some of the finest Asian cuisine you’ll find anywhere in the South West.

Woky Ko: Kauto

Woky Ko: Kauto has perhaps become the flagship venue, offering a little more space and a stronger restaurant feel than its waterside cousin. Sleek lines, muted tones and a contemporary feel combine to create a warm and welcoming space, with a row of high stools offering hungry diners that intimate ‘kitchen table’ experience.

There’s a strong crossover of influence and flavour between the Cargo and Kauto menus – with dishes like noodles, sharing sides and baos featuring in both. But with a larger kitchen, Kauto offers a fuller range.

Photo credit: Larkin Ken

Ramen recommendations (Ramenations? No…)

On my most recent visit I broke with previous form and tried the Woky Ko ramen; a large bowl of steaming noodles swimming in an umami (look it up) broth based on the saltier shio recipe. Larkin has spent hours perfecting the balances of salt, soy and spices across his dishes, and, with delicate jamon bone and rich roasted garlic, Woky Ko ramen is simply stunning.

But yes, I do have form here. On my first Kauto visit I fell a bit in love with the KFC ramen. This show-stopping blend of Korean spices leaves you slurping from the bottom of the bowl – perhaps not very fitting for a stylish restaurant setting, but it’s all too easy to get carried away… 

Sichuan ox cheek and hot and sour aged tofu complete Kauto’s ramen offerings, complemented by a mouth-watering selection of sides like onglet steak, tiger prawn toast, crispy duck pancakes and tenderstem broccoli that will change the way you look at greens forever.

Photo credit: Paolo Ferla

New Year deals from Monday to Friday

Woky Ko’s new weekday deals started up recently, offering diners a little added value for money from 4.30pm to 6.30pm Monday to Friday.

Down on the harbourside, Woky Ko Cargo is offering either chicken vermicelli noodles or edamame bean and sunflower seed yakisoba noodles plus a Tsingtao beer for £10.

And on Park St, just opposite the Wills Memorial Building, Woky Ko Kauto’s early-evening deal brings you a free beer, glass of wine or soft drink with any of the four ramen dishes.

For an idea of the dishes available, check out Woky Ko’s sample menu. And to read more of @cjcallaghan’s write-ups and reviews, nabber over to his Best of Bristol page and fill your boots.

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Behind the Scenes at Thatchers Cider

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I have a confession to make… I’m a cider snob. I like it dry or medium-dry, and cloudy – with the heady scent of fermented apples still brimming in the glass. The kind of cider that’s been greasing the wheels of agriculture and industry in Somerset for centuries. Not for me, the sugary, sweet, supermarket stuff… I’ll have a pint of real zider, and you can leave the twigs and leaves in, too.

Spanning four generations in the same family, Thatchers is our region’s most famous cider-maker – and their range of produce is broad. Although most of their ciders are slightly over-processed for my liking, they do still make cider the traditional way. I’d say a visit to their orchards at Myrtle Farm in the heart of Somerset’s cider country is a must-do for any cider-lover in Bristol.

Exploring the orchards

Image courtesy of Natacha the Franglaise

My recent visit began in the Thatchers Exhibition Orchard, where manager Chris oversees over 450 different apple varieties. The weather conditions in Somerset offer the perfect conditions for growing apples – with cold winters allowing the trees to lie dormant, and temperate springs promoting bee pollination and blossom-growth. True to form for this time of year, it was pissing with rain as we strolled among the lines of fruit-laden trees – but the apples like a little of that, too.

Hearing how Chris and his team fuse new apple buds to young root stocks to produce varieties like Dabinett and Jonagold was insightful, and his ability to harness the power of nature to produce the finest harvests made for fascinating listening. Our tour continued past the huge apple vats and ancient fermentation tanks to the state-of-the-art canning plant, and it was a joy to hear the various Thatchers team members share their passion for the product.

To the tasting…

Thatchers brought a selection of their lovely cider to Bristol a few months ago, so this was a fortunate second tasting for me. We sampled diverse brews including Redstreak, Old Rascal, Vintage, Haze, Katy, and more – each offering a different balance of scent and flavour to the last. It turns out Old Rascal is the team’s overall favourite Thatchers’ cider – a very fine drop indeed.

Lunch at The Railway Inn

Image courtesy of Bristol Bloggers

The Railway Inn is Thatchers’ local pub, with a broad selection of beers and ciders alongside a full menu of delicious dishes sourced, of course, from in and around Somerset. The pub has been lovingly converted from its original stone structure to a warm and welcoming space – with traditional snug, open bar area and stylish oak-beamed dining room. There’s garden seating for summer visitors, and a seasonal menu that makes the very most of the region’s natural produce.

Take a tour

If all this talk of apples and cider has got your taste buds tingling, you can find details on Thatchers’ guided tours and tastings on their website here. October is Cider and Perry Month, so now’s the ideal time to celebrate and support our local orchards and cider-makers. Harvest season is upon us too, so if you visit Thatchers there’s a good chance you’ll get to see the trucks arriving from across Somerset – their fruity haul ready for pressing.

If you head over, do book a table at The Railway Inn – it makes a good visit great. I can recommend the Thatchers Gold-battered fish and chips, and the sticky toffee pud hits the spot. Cider’s not bad ‘n’ all. Cheers!

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For more of @cjcallaghan’s reviews and write-ups, check out his Best of Bristol author page.

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Pata Negra Revamp Kitchen And Menu

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Pata Negra Steps It Up for the Autumn Season

Bristol’s proud independent streak is well-documented, and we’re lucky to have so many vibrant and exciting bars, restaurants and cafes to choose from in this city.

If you enjoy visiting and supporting Bristol’s varied independent venues, it’s likely you’ll have a list of places old and new that you’re just waiting for the right time to tick off.

The Ox on Corn Street had been sitting on my must-visit list for months when I went last month, and I was very, very impressed.

But from the style-savvy team behind The Milk Thistle and Hyde & Co, what else could I have expected?

Also on Corn Street, and also run by the same talented team, Pata Negra is another venue I’d been curious about for a while — but on those occasions when I’d peered in past the door, I’d never felt encouraged in. Despite the great location and classical décor, it somehow just didn’t feel tempting.

Fresh changes at Pata Negra

That’s all changed now. In the latest round of developments at Pata Negra, the kitchen has been brought up from the basement to take pride of place at the forefront of the room — and the difference is striking.

You step through the doorway to skilled chefs preparing delicious dishes in their new open-plan setting, with a fine haunch of cured Ibérico ham hanging from the wall.

Further towards the back of the room, welcoming window seats and banks of plush red-leather benches offer the perfect settings for intimate gatherings of friends.

A menu re-vamp for the autumn season

The engine-room of the restaurant is now fully on show, and a menu re-vamp has changed things up for autumn. Diners can expect seasonal twists on authentic Spanish classics alongside new dishes created to bring the best out of the kitchen’s open grills.

Meanwhile, the wine and sherry list showcases the best of the Iberian Peninsula — the perfect accompaniment to the delicious tapas dishes, fresh seafood and decadent desserts on offer.

For full details on Pata Negra’s refreshed autumn menu, head over to the website here.

For more of @cjcallaghan’s reviews and write-ups, check out his Best of Bristol author page.

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