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Tuesday 10 April 2012

Tapas and Cocktails at Harvey's Wine Cellars

I pass by Harvey's Wine Cellars nearly every day on my way home from work. Ever since I spied the barrels outside I have been very curious, a curiosity that was heightened when I discovered they would also be serving tapas. Readers of this blog may already be aware of our fixation with these Spanish delights.

With a cocktail fanatic friend coming back to her home town to visit we thought this would be the perfect opportunity for trying somewhere new. Harvey's specialises in sherry, cocktails and wine so if you like beer you do have a limited choice, but Rich was pleased that they had one of his favourites, Asahi, on tap.

The cocktail list is enormous there is even a dedicated section to sherry cocktails, particularly using Harvey's Bristol Cream, imported and then bottled in Bristol since 1796. The cocktails were right up my street particularly the Kipling, the base of which was Disaronno which is probably my favourite liqueur of all time. The list is extensive so  there will be something for all cocktail palettes here.

We ordered some tapas to soak up some of the alcohol, I was pleased to see a good selection of classics on the menu such as patatas bravas, chorizo baked in wine and my favourite, ham croquettes. The latter are my absolute favourite tapas dish, I lived off of them when we went to Madrid and each one was sheer perfection. I have attempted making them myself a few times with a block of Serrano ham from Arch House Deli, taste wise the results have been spot on, but with out a deep fat fryer it is hard to get them to stay in their shape. So if anyone close by fancies some ham croquettes in return for a go in their fryer let me know!
Harvey's Wine Cellars Bristol Tapas
Calamari with Aioli and Ham Croquettes
Harvey's Wine Cellars Tapas

Chorizo Baked in Wine, Patatas Bravas and Chorizo with Morcilla 
The tapas themselves were really good, my personal favourites were the chorizo with morcilla and the ham croquettes. The chorizo with morcilla was wonderfully earthy, rich and indulgent it practically melted in the mouth. The ham croquettes were creamy with the meaty saltiness you get from hams like Serrano. The patatas were light with a slight kick. The only let down food wise was the hummus. We were brought some lovely bread and olives to enjoy and some hummus to dip. The hummus was very bland indeed and added nothing to the meal.

 However my main complaint about the tapas was the portion size. Everything was a bit on the small side compared to our trip to The Old Bookshop, where everything was amazing tasting but with generous portions and the 3 for £10 deal price. At Harvey's you definitely would need at least 5 or more dishes per person to keep the hunger wolves at bay, which would definitely rack up the price.
Hummus and Bread
The live music in the back area was a very nice touch, we had some lilting jazz and bossa nova singing floating out across the bar area, this definitely adds something extra to the venue and is worth visiting for. I did find the decor a bit soulless and formal the almost bare magnolia walls, black rectangle tables with big black leather chairs made it seem a bit too restauranty. Tapas to me is more about the informality of getting together for drinks and some snacks, it is what Spain is all about, making a big deal about socialising.

I think Harvey's could be very good if it tweaks a few things like the use of space and make it feel more welcoming and relaxing, because the drinks and food are very good. The service was excellent, friendly table service that did feel like we were on a cocktail bar stool with the attention to detail and smiles all round.  Harvey's will make a great addition to this area of Bristol and I look forward to seeing how it grows and improves on it's already good base.

For a peak at the upcoming events, cocktail, wine and tapas lists visit their website here

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