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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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Happy Bird Comes to Roost in Bristol

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Happy Bird Arrives In Bristol

Taking flight this coming Friday (26th Jan), Happy Bird is the latest opening on Bristol’s Whiteladies Road. Dedicated to quality, this brand new restaurant and take-away serves up fresh fried and grilled chicken reared the way it should be.

Nesting in the Yorkshire Wolds

Happy Bird’s dedicated bosses scoured the land in search of a chicken farmer with the right attitude to animal welfare, and they found one in the rolling Yorkshire Wolds. Farmer Ed’s pullets aren’t cooped up in the hen-house and force-fed grain, they’re free to flap around the pastures and enjoy the outdoor life. Fed on a diet of corn and fresh herbs – with no artificial flavourings or additives – these free-range hens enjoy the good life far longer than the average battery bird.

Clucking nice gaff

The interior of Happy Bird’s  brand new outlet is all bright neon lights, sleek metal grills and clean lines, with an egg-inspired yellow and white colour theme which reminded me that chicken was the order of the day – though that might not have been deliberate. Either way, it’s a stylish and enticing setup.

Diners can take a seat and eat in at any of the benched tables, or ‘Cluck and Collect’ with the take-away service. And if you want your chicken to wing its way to you instead, Happy Bird run a home delivery service.

Feeling peckish?

Happy Bird’s menu offers up tasty treats like honey and chilli-glazed wings, grilled breasts and crisp, fried tenders, making the best of the meat on each bird. Tender thigh and breast burgers made a nice change from the usual beef, and you can have it rolled into a burrito too – all accompanied by a delicious range of greens and salads. A selection of seven colourfully-named home-made sauces add a beautiful ‘zing’ to the meat, complementing the flavours perfectly.

For a restaurant that has taken such time and care in choosing Bristol as a location, I was a little disappointed with the beer selection. I like the Magic Rock brewery as much as the next crafty hipster, but we have so many wonderful breweries in this city there’s no shortage of choice. That said, it’s very early days at Happy Bird HQ, and I dare say they’ll be knocking on the doors of a few local breweries soon.

Happy Bird’s simple aim is to provide the best chicken in town, and I think they’re off to a strong start. With such evident care given to sourcing the meat and setting up a pheasant pleasant space to dine in, they deserve to do well.

Happy Bird sits by the entrance to Clifton Down Shopping Centre, and you can check out the full menu here. For more of Chris Callaghan’s reviews and write-ups, you can find him here.

Author’s note: I was invited to try Happy Bird’s offerings free of charge, and really enjoyed it. I thought you might too, so I wrote this.

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The Big Bristol 2017 Quiz

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The Big Bristol 2017 Quiz

Ere love, so you think you know everything about Bristol this year then do you? Take our quiz and see where you rank on the gurt lush-o-meter.

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Why I F****ing LOVE Bristol

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I know that this is going to sound slightly ironic when reading this; here we are, yet another non-Bristolian who moved here some years ago and never looked back, raving about why they love this city so much, yadda yadda yadda.

But, I’ve not travelled far. I came to Bristol six years ago from the quieter, smaller landscape of Exeter in Devon, so I’m keeping it within the South West. I’m not from London (can I say that?!) insert winking emoji here. I jest of course.

But what is it about Bristol that has me convinced I will probably (most certainly) never move myself back down to the shire? Why do I want to stay here? I thought I might write down some of the reasons why I FUCKING LOVE BRISTOL.

Bristol’s Food

bristol food

Well, let’s start with the obvious. I love to eat, but I never realised just how passionate I was about food and everything connected with it until I came here. There is a strong focus on sustainability, being ethical and supporting local and surrounding businesses – it’s collaborative, enthusiastic and extremely positive.

Bristol is surrounded by plentiful and beautiful greenery, perfect for foraging and collecting ingredients to be used in kitchens. It also means there are farms right on the city’s doorstep, providing us with a great selection of organic and free-range meats or poultry, vegetables and dairy. We really are situated within the West Country’s glorious larder. The food we enjoy in Bristol’s independent restaurants is fresh and of high quality, and it really doesn’t get much better.

No one is jostling and fighting for the spotlight, and if anything, restaurants, kitchens and bars actively promote each other across various platforms and encourage locals and visitors alike to give their city neighbours a try. We’ve got some strong offerings across this patch, all serving up quality and variety. I’ve always said if there is a certain cuisine, or dish that you fancy, you are most likely to find it somewhere in Bristol, and nine times out of ten, it won’t bankrupt your wallet. Growers, producers, farmers, restaurant owners and chefs all work together here collaboratively, and I fucking love it.

The Bristol Lingo

When I first moved to Bristol, I lived in Horfield and had the chore of commuting to and from the centre every day. Hearing the immortal words, ‘cheers drive’ has never grown old though, and now I don’t get the bus anymore I kind of miss it (not the bus journey, but the saying). The Bristolian lingo is one I love and I have learnt many new phrases since arriving here; who knew that getting your hair off meant you were in a pissy? Or the end of a loaf was the topper? I’m not sure I can get on board with smoothing the cat rather than stroking it, and I couldn’t get away with saying I was going to see ‘are muh’ but I love hearing it. Plus, I will never tire of being called ‘love’, ‘lover’ or ‘babber’ by friends and sweet strangers. There’s something so heart-warming about it.

Creativity

I haven’t seen a city fully embrace creativity and freedom of expression like I have seen it in Bristol. Embraced so much so that, in fact no one bats an eyelid. There are often events happening that I just don’t think would go on in other places, and I’m not sure if this is because there is a much stronger independent offering here which allows more flexibility, or that there are just more creative minds in Bristol possessing quirky ideas (I’m going with the latter).

Whatever it is though, I’m not complaining. I’ve twerked to hip hop in an actual fish and chip shop, I’ve dressed up as a hero of Ancient Geese and ran from pub to pub like a madman with my teammates to complete challenges which included throwing crab sticks down each other’s pants, I’ve danced to Golden Lookin’ Chain at the amphitheatre and the one closest to my heart; I led the Big Bristol Burger Crawl with the help of some very special friends, restaurants and a wonderful group of enthusiastic eaters. I would never have been able to do this in my hometown, for various reasons but mainly because it’s on such a smaller scale. I’ve created hilarious memories and fucking enjoyed every minute whilst doing so. Friends and family often comment to me how jealous they are that I live in a city with so much going on all the time, it never gets boring and there is always something to do.

Power Ballads at the Fleece

The first Friday of every month sees this epic club night at The Fleece and no matter how many times I go it never gets old. It’s a no frills, no-holds barred karaoke session basically, with you and every other reveller on the dance floor. There have been many occasions when I have belted out 4 Non-Blondes and Whitney Houston whilst flaying about and being my own air guitar master; serenading complete strangers who also meant to only go out for ‘one’ after work on a Friday. It’s a bloody laugh innit.

Baps…

natalie burger

I couldn’t write down the reasons I love Bristol and not mention the burger scene. For anyone who knows me knows how much joy I get from chowing down on a bap and we are truly spoilt for choice with options all over the city. Of course I understand the arguments for having too much of one thing, but I disagree. I believe each establishment offers us something different; there are places to takeaway, to sit in and have cocktails, restaurants that are better for families and venues which aren’t afraid to try something new. It would be pretty boring if they were all the same anyway right?

asado

Through my love of eating, I’ve also managed to forge some lovely friendships with the teams behind the buns, and their enthusiasm for bringing the best to Bristol is wonderful to see. I often get tagged in burger photos on Instagram and on Twitter, and receive messages from friends and strangers asking for recommendations on where to get their next burger fix and this brings me no end of joy. I’ve been able to meet, communicate and discuss all things meaty with a bunch of new faces which I really love. It’s just another reason (aside from them being delicious) that I will always champion the Bristol burger gods and for some people to call me Bristol’s burger queen is beyond a compliment.

Action for Change

There are so many examples of initiatives and events I could shout out for this example of why Bristol is special, so big up to everyone championing to make a difference in any way they can. Not only do individuals recognise problems and the need for change here, but they actually roll up their sleeves and start doing something about it.

The 91 Ways events have proved hugely popular across the city, and the idea behind it is really quite simple; uniting people through the love of food. Bristol has a diverse range of communities that live together and these events are designed to fuse these different cultures and promote a healthier, more sustainable city. It also allows communities or people who may feel isolated or out on a limb to make connections with others and engage in important discussions. It is ideas like this that allow people from all walks of life the chance to come together.

There are also smaller scale (but no less important) projects, such as Incredible Edible Bristol which promotes the use of land (no matter how big or small) to grow food. The team here, made up of volunteers and partners have created over 30 edible gardens in spaces across Bristol and the food grown is free and for anyone to take away and eat.  This initiative has also introduced a scheme to get schools involved, so that youngsters can see the importance first hand of being able to grow and eat sustainably.

As in every city there are charities designed to help the less fortunate, so this is not something new in Bristol, however the support and willingness of people to get stuck in and help knows no bounds here. People collecting donations of food and warm clothes to hand out to those sleeping on the streets, unwanted/unused scarfs tied to lampposts so that those who are homeless can take them to keep and fund raising events are just a small selection of ideas I have witnessed whilst living here. Care in the community has never had more of a profound meaning.

So Bristol, I love you, do you mind if I stay?

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