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Ivy Clifton Brasserie Review

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ivy clifton

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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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

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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The Time I Beat Bristol’s Scariest Escape Room

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Hell in a cell Bristol

I’m put in many a tricky situation exploring the very ‘Best of Bristol’.

Usually up high, scaling buildings and cranes (#antimitchclimbs), but I didn’t think it would result in being locked in a prison cell with a psycho killer called Pig Face (pictured above). Welcome to Hell in a Cell, ay?

Now for some of you reading, Hell in the Cell will make you think of wrestling but I can promise you this is scarier than when Shane McMahon jumps off the top of that cell.

Probably..

Hell in a cell Bristol

The rather terrifying Pig Face.

Hidden beneath the old Crown Courts on Bridewell Street, within the cells, this has been dubbed “Bristol’s scariest attraction”. And so in the interest of research I took on Pig Face, and lived to tell the tale!

I can’t actually give away too much of the game, because this is an escape room and that just wouldn’t be cricket, would it?

What I can reveal though, should give you a taste of what to expect.

Hell in a cell bristol

You don’t know what you’re getting yourself in for until they handcuff you and throw a bag over your head..

Like any escape room, Hell in a Cell Bristol sets players challenges that they have to complete. Perhaps the first challenge is not backing out after you’re handcuffed with a sack placed over your head.

It’s then trying not to cack yourself as you’re led into the pitch black cells, where you know you’re not alone, but you can’t quite tell what’s there.

It’s that lovely fucker by the name of Pig Face.

Pig Face is reasonably fair at this point and allows you an hour to make your escape. It’s go time!

Oh, and all your belongings have been taken off you, so you can’t use your phone torch or ask Siri for help.

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You ok there hun?

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What I will say is that you bond pretty bastard quickly when you’re scrambling to find light and remove your handcuffs. I was with my good friend Colin Moody, but with three other people I did not know, and we came out of it with an unwavering sense of camaraderie.

That probably explains why this Bristol escape room has proven so popular with corporate clients in the city. Hell, it’s proven pretty popular with all but one reviewer on a popular site that rhymes with whip chastiser. That person claimed it wasn’t very scary. Ooooooo sorry ‘ard.

The game itself was challenging, terrifying and fun (if you like being scared). It will most certainly fill you with adrenaline and leave you in need of a celebratory drink if you do make it out.

This is NOT for the faint hearted. I don’t scare easy, and if you’re like me you won’t feel a sense of fear, but you’ll definitely be made to jump. Nobody is immune to that.

If you do scare easily, go to the bathroom beforehand. Or don’t, these are real holding cells so you could always have a pee in there..

Fancy it? Then click here to book.

Tag us in your psycho selfies on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook if you take on Pig Face

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