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Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Gopal's Curry Shack at Cargo 2, Wapping Wharf

After my first run in with chaat at Sholay I was interested in trying other examples of this dish. Gopal’s crowdfunded their permanent home at Wapping Wharf and after reaching their goal, thanks to many loyal fans they opened up about 6 months ago.  Sporting an all Vegetarian and Vegan menu that will warm you through the Wintery months. A menu of Indian street food with dishes such as a selection of dhals, the Mumbai toastie as well as seasonal curries.  With chaat on my mind I went in to order the samosa chaat dish.  Whilst a good deal of the cargo containers are designed for takeaway, and Gopal’s is no exception, there are a couple of stools to perch on. 


Gopal’s samosa chaat consists of crushed up samosas topped with spicy chickpea curry topped with various chutneys, yoghurt and pomegranate seeds. At £7.50 it might seem a little pricey for lunch but the portion is enormous, if you can finish it in one sitting you are a hero to me. This was just what the doctor ordered on such a grey day, and we had braved sitting outside. The chickpea curry was a tad hot but I popped back in and they gladly gave me a pot with extra minty yoghurt to cool it down. This dish is wholesome, warm and comforting. The samosas are still slightly crunchy and add a nice texture, and the fig and tamarind chutney adds a wonderful sweetness. Because the flavours change with each mouthful it was a delight to eat, and even when I was full I still wanted to go back for another mouthful. 


 I find it really heartening when street food stalls build up enough of a following to open their own permanent premises and Bristol is lucky enough to have converted the dreams of many a street food favourite. It was something I wrote about last year for Wriggle, our love affair with street food doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of a cooling off period. Check out the article here.


Gopal’s shows how imaginative Vegetarian and Vegan dishes can get. The vibrancy and flavours certainly don’t make you miss meat at all. I am looking forward to exploring more of their menu over the next few months whilst we endure more freezing temperatures. To find out more about their food visit their website. Gopal's will also cater for events and parties if you are looking for something a little out of the norm.


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Modern Indian Dining at Sholay

The most recent restaurant opening at Cargo 2 is Sholay. An Indian kitchen from the owners of The Mint Rooms with a more casual approach to Indian cuisine. Named after the 1975 smash hit Hindi language film, Sholay is regularly named in the top 10 lists of best Indian cinema.  Sholay, the restaurant, has quotes and scenes from the film painted on it’s walls. The menu consists of snacks and medium sized plates, with the idea that you order a few and share.  Whilst there will be some dishes on the menu that are recognisable to those that are fairly familiar with Indian food there are a lot of different ones to explore. My companion for the evening was Annupa, to help me guide my way through the unfamiliar and cast a focused eye on what was offered up.

We decided upon the Sholay chaat. Chaat is a street food dish but also one that is served with many other dishes, it’s rather hard to describe but it’s sort of like a textured salad, normally made from samosas with lots of sauces. We also ordered some vegetable patties (sabzi ki tikki), baby aubergines in yoghurt and coriander(dhal baingan), grilled poussin with a pepper sauce(tawa poussin) and paneer and chutney sandwich. Most of the dishes hover around the £7-8 mark and there are plenty of vegetarian options too. 


 As with most places that offer small plates the dishes appeared when they were ready, which when you’re sharing is not so bad because it means you don’t have to stare misty eyed and longingly after plates being placed in front of your dining companion whilst your setting remains empty. The chaat was first to arrive and as this was my first experience of this dish I wasn’t sure how to take it.  It was fresh, zingy and moreish. I was assured that this was not exactly how it was supposed to be with the samosa bits being more like thick poppadoms and the crispy topping being more thick. We did enjoy it however and it was probably one of the best dishes of the evening. The sabzi ki tikki, vegetable patties, whilst crisp were in my opinion pretty bland and we were disappointed to have ordered them.  The sauce that accompanied them had a nice depth of flavour with the dot of beetroot sauce giving a nice sweet earthiness, a much needed boost to the otherwise fairly plain patties.

 Our other favourite dish of the evening was the baby poussin. The bell pepper and onion sauce that accompanied it was tangy but with a good kick of chilli. The poussin itself was juicy and full of flavour, definitely one to order if you end up visiting. The only thing wrong with this dish was the rice was quite dry instead of being fluffy.  The other bigger dish, the baby aubergines with a yoghurt and coriander sauce was a bit of an odd one. Aubergines can be extremely flavourless, they aren’t one of my favourite vegetables but given some love they can be transformed. The sauce was grainy and tasted of very little. What those aubergines needed was a dollop of the poussin sauce to bring them alive. We left some of the dish because it just didn’t work for us.  

 The only thing left to sample was the paneer and chutney sandwich. There was a great amount of flavour imparted onto the often bland paneer which was tasty. This would be a great lunch time item, just for dinner it didn’t quite sit right. Sholay for me was a mixed bag. I think some of the dishes need tweaking but there were some tasty moments. I will be keeping an eye on the changing menu and specials to see if there are any new dishes that peak my interest. To find out more about Sholay visit their website. This meal was complimentary but it did not impact my opinion of the meal,

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Taco Frenzy at Cargo Cantina

It’s no secret that Wapping Wharf is knocking it out of the park with their food offerings. I have only tried a small number of them but everything I have had so far has been pretty special. So when Kym messaged me to tell me we had to go to Cargo Cantina, I sat up and listened. The brains behind Bravas set their sights on Mexico’s favourite snack, the taco.  The menu consists of five different types of taco, plus sides to go with them, and some specials. To make it simple everything here is gluten free. From the blue corn tacos to the chilli sauces. 


If you like tequila you are well provided for here, they offer up a variety of ones to sample and some cocktails for those who don’t want the mixers for their spirits to just be salt and lime. As with much of Wapping Wharf booking is not offered but Kym and I sauntered up in the rain with hope and a dream and we were welcomed in by two handsome angels just as two spots at the bar opened up. It was kismet, one might say.  As Kym had been here before I followed her lead. For £18 a head you can get all five of the regular tacos with all the sides and salsas, which is just as well because I enjoy a full sample of a menu.   


A tray of delights was brought to us shortly afterwards, blue corn tacos make for a moody insta food shot I can tell you.  Being able to build your own combination of taco means that every experience will be different but the food is nothing short of superb. One of my surprising favourites was the avocado and cactus the ancho chilli gave it a real warmness and was bursting with flavour. The slow cooked meat options of pork shoulder, pibil style and the rich ox tongue and cheek, braised overnight, melted in the mouth. The food is fresh, clean and moreish. The only filling that didn’t shine for me was the seafood mix of octopus and prawns. To me it could have had a bit more oomph, octopus can be sublime and I could have taken a smokier flavour. 


Cargo Cantina’s food excites and judging by the constant queues of an evening, the rest of Bristol agrees.  I can’t wait to return and sample some of their specials. Bare in mind you cannot book tables at Cargo, it’s small so is a turn up and see affair. With some great food options at Wapping Wharf you won’t go hungry if you can’t get a spot at your first choice, you should be able to find something just as good and a new favourite behind door number two. To see what Cargo Cantina has to offer visit their website.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Burger Cures at Hubbox

What feels like Bristol’s umpteenth burger restaurant, Hubbox opened this Summer to a few teething problems but soon they were smoothed out and serving burgers to the citizens of Whiteladies and beyond. One Sunday when we were hungov.. tired and emotional we managed to drag our carcasses off the sofa in search of salt and a hope that one day we might be able to be out in sunlight again without wincing.  We stumbled in to Hubbox to check out the latest new burger in town. 


Hubbox does offer up a selection of beef, chicken and veggie/vegan burgers but it also has the choice of two fish burgers which is something a little different. You can also order hotdogs, some barbecued items as well as loaded fries, wings and mac n cheese. As is the current trend burgers do not come with sides but as the burgers hover around the £8 mark adding on fries doesn’t make this too pricey. 

 I have been here three times in the past few months and here are my findings.  Their Kim Yum Chick, Korean influenced fried chicken burger really is something special. Spicy, tangy Korean mayo sauce and a particularly crunchy batter  elevate this for me. To be honest I will only ever order this burger I can’t see anything topping it at Hubbox.  I tried the Brie B King, chicken breast with brie and caramelised onions and garlic mayo, it was pretty nice but not enough to order again. The portion of fries is a little small in my opinion but when shared with a partner in crime with some mac n cheese (I recommend the blue and bacon) it does fill you up nicely.  

When you have so many burgers to choose from you do start minutely detailing how they differ from each other. Hubbox doesn’t crack my top three but you know what? That fried chicken burger is enough to get me back there especially with a hangover the size of Brazil. They offer up just few different things to give it a second glance over the behemoth that is Bristol’s Burger scene, of which I still have many more offerings to sample. To find out more about Hubbox visit their website.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Souvlaki Realness at The Athenian

Greek food. Often relegated to the post beer kebab category strips of greasy mystery meat that tops a grilled pitta glistening with intent and lots of garlic mayonnaise. You want a kebab now don’t you? But it gets a bad rep being the drunk’s choice, Greek food, done right is a wonderful thing. Bristol doesn’t have much in the way of decent Greek restaurants, maybe 4 ish at most, the somewhat secret Cyprus Kebab House being a particular favourite of mine. However Cargo 2 has come to the rescue with the arrival of The Athenian.  Athenian already has a few openings across London, including Boxpark, the first shipping container retail and dining mall which Wapping  Wharf is based on.  What the Athenian is offering up is souvlaki. Souvlaki are derived from the Turkish doner kebab, in fact gyros comes from the word to spin. The Greeks have made them their own by adding fries into the meat and salad combo. 

The Athenian offer options for carnivores, veggies and vegans alike. You can choose from beef and lamb bifteki, the Greek word for kofte, chicken, pork, halloumi, mixed veg and mushrooms. It also offers options for varying states of hunger. Which is lucky because I am usually ravenous.  Each main filling comes with a designated sauce, chicken for example comes with a honey mustard style one, and the kofte with a light tzatziki. There is also the option to add extra meat and/or halloumi. The halloumi is proper imported Hellenic stuff and it’s texture is a lot firmer and more delicious than what you can buy in the supermarkets, so well worth a punt I’d say. 

the Athenian gyros

 I  sampled the kofte on my first visit along with a side of oregano fries and some of the feta and smoked chilli dip, which I believe is the accompaniment for the pork. I also opted for a chunk of halloumi to make sure I sampled my first gyros by The Athenian, properly. After several visits to the Athenian I can categorically say that this is a great place to get a quick and tasty feed. Certainly a welcome sight if you are hungover and have to count on Deliveroo bringing tasty Greek treats to your door, they travel very well. But it’s nicer if you can visit in person, plus if the sun is shining you can grab a cool drink and watch the boats wizzing up and down. 

oregano fries with feta dip

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Burgers at Asado


How many ways are there to offer up meat patties in a bun. If Bristol is anything to go by, hundreds.  You have your build your own places like the ever fabulous, Burger Joint. American style, such as 3 Brothers' Burgers and then you have the unchanging set creations such as Chomp. Months of developing the perfect tasting burger without having to add anything extra. Asado, Spanish for barbecue, falls into the latter category and puts a slight South American spin on our favourite fast food. A small menu of carefully crafted burgers and a few sides to go with them. You might think that Bristol is over-run with burger and pizza places but the number of decent burger joints I return to again and again I can count on one hand.  

Asado opened last month with great flourish as a heap of bloggers descended on the restaurant for a preview night. Situated on Colston St just down from the Colston Yard pub. Asado cooks it’s beef patties and chicken wings on a wood fired grill so you get the chargrilled flavour on the meat. Championing Bristol from the off, with Minirig speakers providing the sound in the restaurant, and Ruby and White’s providing the organic meat, you know you’ll be in good hands. 


The menu has two beef options, one fried chicken and a veggie.  The signature Asado burger tops organic beef with West Country cheddar, pickled red onion, chimichurri sauce, ketchup and confit garlic mayonnaise Likewise with the other beef option, El Don, you will find cheddar, pancetta and bbq onions to go with the garlic mayo and salad. It’s a burger Jim, but not quite as we know it. Tweaking what we expect from the traditional burger and twisting it a touch.  It’s making small changes such as these that take a burger from delicious to sublime. 

The only controversy is that Asado prides itself on cooking the burgers pink and juicy which does tend to divide people. It’s not exactly a problem as you can ask for your burger to be cooked a bit more. I am more in-between when it comes to burgers, I like the texture of a more cooked burger but the juiciness of a pink one. So for me a rosy blush is ideal rather than rare, and as it was pointed out unless you are following the rules pink burgers can make you poorly. Asado have some astringent policies in place regarding this and have been found a safe venue in which to chow down on a pink burger without worry.


What impresses me most with Asado is the attention to detail. Making their own habanero hot sauce and mayonnaise for the table just for your fries, which with the rosemary were excellent.  Even the oak smoked chicken wings had their own spicy yet creamy coriander sauce drizzled over the top. This sauce has quite a kick and it’s glorious, many places are too afraid to give any real heat to sauces, not Asado however. 

It takes some serious cajones to open another burger place in Bristol but I can guarantee you that it will elbow it’s way to the top of your list with all the charm of Ferris Bueller, you’ll want to bunk off work just to hang with these burgers. I was privileged to be amongst the group of bloggers, but I also returned as a paying customer just under two weeks after the preview evening.  It was the perfect birthday lunch treat for Rich, he almost couldn’t believe the flavour that came out of a burger.  It immediately shot straight into our top 3 burgers in Bristol.  Look out for limited edition specials, a small number being made each day, the current one is flying out the door. A beef burger made with bone marrow and topped with crispy shoestring onions and cheese. I am salivating just thinking about it, it is next on my burger hit list. 

Asado are open every day for lunch and dinner bar Monday. They are a very welcome addition to the restaurant scene of Bristol and I am looking forward to my next visit. To find out more about Asado, visit their website.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The Inaugeral Pudding Society of Bristol

Before I went to New York I had the great honour to be invited by my friend Charlie to sample her first stab at a pudding pop up. What stemmed from a Twitter conversation amongst Bristol pudding fans soon snowballs into an idea. It was revealed that there was a distinct lack of classic puddings available to us Bristolians. So Charlie, decided to start her own tribute to great puddings of old, resurrect some classics and introduce some soon to be favourites. What was quickly first established from a poll was that treacle tart was a much longed for and hard to acquire dish so this was one of the first pudding courses to be thrown in to the ring. 

Less than 20 tickets were offered up for the first pudding society, hosted at Bristol Spirit in Easton. Run by Espensen Spirit creator Sam, who creates the most wonderful concoctions of flavoured spirits all from fresh fruit, expect to find rhubarb and custard vodka and blueberry gin. Charlie and Sam worked to create a wonderful menu of puddings and matching cocktails. An exciting prospect to those who particularly look straight at the dessert offerings on a restaurant menu or to those who are merely disappointed with the often lack of thought that goes into pudding menus, 
pudding society menu

To cleanse our palate a home made slice of sourdough toast with beetroot ketchup, goat's cheese and rocket, salty and slightly sharp. What was the most amazing thing was how good the bread was. I've often been under the impression, in fact in a hugely humorous blog post by Charlie herself on failed starter doughs, that sourdough can be quite the beast to master. But master it she has and it was just the ticket to get the tastebuds flowing for the start of our journey into Sugarland.

A British favourite to begin, a constructed Eton mess. Crispy meringues topped with booze soaked fruit and whipped vanilla cream. Just the right amount of booze on the fruit and a fluffy innard to the meringue shell. I have to confess early on that this was probably my favourite pudding of the day. It is hard to get meringue just the right texture and they evoke a deep nostalgia in me. Meringue shells with fruit and cream was often a go to pudding when I was growing up, not that puddings were a very regular thing. Spoons were licked and there was barely a plate left unscraped, but I was in a room of pudding fanatics and they were in their element.

 We weren't waiting long when the much talked of treacle tart made an appearance. The staple of the lunch room's dessert arsenal at my school, along with jam roly poly and cornflake tart,  and in all honesty it had been about then when I last had it. But banish all visions of pink or mint green custard as the expected accompaniment this individual tart was crowned with a scoop of Brozen's brown bread ice cream. An ice cream flavour first popular in the Victorian era and then in the 90s, it could well be due a renaissance. The tart was sticky and sweet but the pastry was buttery and short enough but not that it was dry and crumbly. A good treacle tart is a wonderfully comforting thing, and this was just that. Which is what a good pud should be, happiness on a plate. We voted for a pause in proceedings whilst we digested the first three courses. As I don't have a big sweet tooth I was glad because I was struggling a touch.

On to the penultimate pud. Chocolate stout cake with salted caramel and whipped mascarpone. Charlie was the first to admit this course had not gone to plan but she improvised with plating differently to accommodate and we were greeted by old fashioned mini pint glasses filled with cake and rich promises. This was my least favourite I think because I found the cake a little too heavy and rich for my tastes but the mascarpone was light and sweet enough to be divine. I made a tactical decision to leave some of this dessert to make sure I had enough space for the finale.

To finish a light last course. A gin and Prosecco jelly with rhubarb curd and fruit compote with shortbread. If anything was fighting for first place with the meringues it was this. Slightly sharp and clean tasting, Charlie should bottle that rhubarb curd and sell it. I guarantee a chorus of: "shut up and take my money" if she did. A perfect end to a pretty successful afternoon of eating. 

I realise that as a friend it can be hard to remain impartial. I think what surprised me the most was just how accomplished and organised it was for a first pop up. I don't want people reading this to think I believe Charlie to be incompetent but she is pretty quiet about her skills but I never doubted her passion. And that is what is the best thing about Bristol, it has so many people who are passionate about food but have the goods to back it up, quietly building their rep up and gaining a following on their merits. Two more pudding societies have been and gone since I visited, each one sold out and each time a couple more tickets have been made available as word spreads. If you haven't had a chance to eat your body weight in puddings there are now tickets available for the September - December societies each with different menus so get buying.