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Friday 27 November 2015

Wriggling Lunch at Plead the 5th

Last week it was cold and wet I fancied a stroll and some food, naturally. I checked out Wriggle to see what they could temp us with and some scrolling revealed a stuffed cheeseburger with hand cut chips and some apple slaw for £6.50 at Plead the 5th on Park Row. Quickly purchasing two for such a bargain we headed out for some fresh air before burgering. Plead the 5th opened up last year in the place of the long standing Italian restaurant Mamma Mia. 

Plead the 5th is American themed, named after the 5th amendment of the US constitution, the right to refrain from speaking in court in case it incriminates you. An odd choice for a restaurant name but I suppose it's a phrase that has filtered down into everyday speech. Naming aside we arrived at the restaurant to be greeted by a friendly waitress and splashes of red, white and blue all over the decor. The music is overtly big American classic rock ballads and you'll find yourself singing along whether you want to or not, earworms aplenty here. 

Seeing as we had two such good Wriggle deals we decided to treat ourselves to some chicken wings to share. Opting for the cider apple barbecue glaze, which was a special item. When it came to the drinks I was disappointed that the selection was fairly sparse. Sodas are bountiful in America, they have many weird and wonderful options, this is where offering something a little different might be beneficial. There wasn't even any root beer, which was a little surprising. When I was a nipper even McDonalds in the UK used to serve root beer as an option, albeit not for that long. Plead the 5th has ten wines, four standard beers, and coke, lemonade and Dr Pepper. However if you want a cocktail the list is very long so maybe that is the best way to go if you want something different. We chose a diet coke and Dr P. but it wouldn't hurt for the drinks menu over all to have a spruce up it's all a little uninspiring and a missed opportunity perhaps?
plead the 5th bristol

Wings arrived and they looked delicious. Proper large full sized wings, a healthy portion. A pot of slaw accompanied them and an artistic smear of blue cheese dip. The apple cider glaze was delicious and the wings were nice and juicy we really enjoyed them. The blue cheese dip was really strong and was more like a paste but it really worked with the wings, I could have polished off a whole three plates of them. 

Our burgers followed soon after and again it was a pretty large plate of food the patty was large due to being stuffed full of cheese, The burger was topped with tomato, pickle and caramelised onions plus lettuce on the bottom with mayonnaise. 
plead the 5th bristol

plead the 5th bristol

The cheese in the centre was super hot and plentiful. It was a nice mature cheddar that was well flavoured. The burgers were all meant to be served medium rare but ours were definitely not pink in the middle, but they were pretty juicy and definitely messy. The buns though nice, disintegrated fairly quickly. The apple slaw had far too much mayonnaise and added nothing. The chips were nicely salted and did the job. It was a fair burger but not my favourite in Bristol. A table near us ordered the ribs and they looked great. They also do fried chicken and waffles which I've had before in London and I'd be interested in trying.

I just found our visit a little frustrating because Plead the 5th had some great moments but I just found the burgers a little underwhelming compared to the wings. The service throughout was great however, really friendly and attentive. I would visit again, because they definitely have potential just a few things need changing in my opinion. To find out more about Plead the 5th visit their Facebook page.

Monday 23 November 2015

A Rainy Lunch at Bellita

Last week on a rainy Friday Bristol Bites and I had arranged to try newly opened Bellita on Cotham Hill for lunch. I had only heard high praise from Instagrammers and Tweeters I was rather excited to be sampling the menu. Bellita, opened up by the Bell's Diner team, at the Flinty Red site follows a similar theme of Flinty, offering up small plates for sharing or hogging all to yourself. Influenced by Spanish, Moroccan and the Middle East flavour wise, the menu itself offers hugely enticing dishes separated out into veg, seafood and meat categories. I could have ordered everything it all sounded so delicious. 

But we decided to sample an Iberican ham croquette, regular readers will know my obsession with these is well documented, and potato and parmesan fritters from the bar menu. As well as rice, feta and saffron filo parcel with pumpkin borani and pistachios, artichoke, chicory, manchego, pear and almond salad with truffle oil from the veg menu. Finally from the meat menu pork cheeks cooked in Pedro Ximenez with cauliflower puree, wild mushroom and sage.
Bellita Bristol
potato and Parmesan fritters
Bellita Bristol
artichoke and manchego salad
Bellita Bristol
saffron filo parcels
Bellita Bristol
slow cooked pork cheeks
I was blown away by how good the food was. The salad was one of the best I've had in a long time, Wintery flavours with the right amount of truffle oil to bring it all together. It was earthy and yet slightly creamy and the artichokes were sliced wafer thin so they almost melted with the other ingredients when you took a bite. The filo parcels had a nod to Middle Eastern flavours and they were wonderful. Autumnal, nutty with a hint of  sweetness from the pomegranate. Those pork cheeks. Hugely rich, melt in the mouth, strong gutsy flavours I would order these again and again they were perfect.

I bow down before Bellita as food gods. I cannot wait for my next visit although with food this good I have a feeling it's going to be busy. To find out more about Bellita pop over to their website

Thursday 19 November 2015

8 Course Taster Menu at Nettle & Rye

Last week we were invited to sample the restaurant menu at newly opened pub Nettle & Rye. Situated at the old Hophouse site in Clifton village and owned by the same team as the Famous Royal Navy Volunteer on Kings Street. The pub itself has the same craft beer set up as the Navy Volunteer, a big selection of independent breweries as well as a really interesting selection of spirits. The gin selection alone was impressive. I particularly liked the fact that they offered some different gins to sample than the usual. The bar staff were extremely enthusiastic and knowledgeable. We were there to sample the soft launch of the restaurant menu upstairs the team had set up smaller versions of some of the dishes that will be available, in a eight course taster menu. There is a pub menu already operating downstairs for customers looking for a bite to eat with their beer sampling.

We had no idea what sort of food to expect although when ordering a drink at the bar the barman hinted that Scandinavian cuisine played a big part in inspiring the menu and everything had been sourced locally bar one or two items. We headed upstairs and a small cosy Wintery room greeted us, the decoration is meant to change with the seasons as well as the menu so that's a nice touch,  and we sat on a table near to the bar. Sure enough the menu revealed dishes involving mackerel, venison and rye, Scandi staples. The menu didn't give away many details so whilst some rather excellent Mark's Bread was brought to us and two glasses of Chablis we waited eagerly for the first course to emerge. 

Sure enough an amuse bouche of radish and tarragon mayonnaise plus an espresso sized cup of pumpkin velouté with toasted seeds and pickled pumpkin arrived in front of us. The velouté was particularly delicious and was definitely a highlight, thick and Wintery but with the surprise of the textures of the seeds and the pickled pumpkin.

Next up was carrot three ways with in house made ewes curd and puree prune and pumpkin seeds. The ewes curd was fabulous creamy but not cloying. The different textures and flavours of the carrot complimented the dish wonderfully, another standout dish. 

On to the fish dishes. First up cured mackerel with rye, buttermilk, apple and cucumber. This dish didn't quite work for me I found the fish to be far too overpowering and the buttermilk didn't really add anything. I did like the rye crisp for the texture plus the tarragon mayo from earlier made a reappearance which was somewhat surprising. Next was a main fish course of pollock, cauliflower three ways, smoked mussels, red watercress and brown butter. The star of this show should have been the pollock but it didn't really have a lot of flavour and was beaten by the cauliflower, the pureé was really delicious and the roasted cauli added a lovely earthiness to the dish. The muscles were wonderfully smokey I particularly enjoyed them.

The only meat of the evening came in the form of roe deer with beetroot, fennel and saison roasted onions. Artistically presented with vivid splashes of fuschia from the beetroot. A great dish the venison was cooked perfectly and the onions had a nice sweetness to them. I enjoyed this dish a lot, I was disappointed to hear that it would be priced at £20 when the menu launches, I feel this is overpriced considering that sides are not included. We did order a fantastic glass of tempranillo to pair with it which was velvetey smooth and slightly spicy, a perfect wine.

A palate cleanser of crab apple, Psychopomp gin granita and buttermilk followed. I did not enjoy this, I find Psychopomp to be too medicinal tasting for my gin preferences. I feel a palate cleanser should have a lighter touch to it and this was far too polarising a dish. Dessert was a hazelnut cake, peanut, white chocolate and yoghurt. The cake was fantastically light with a very slight hazelnut flavour the yoghurt ice cream was smooth but sharp and I couldn't taste any white chocolate. It was all executed well but it wasn't sweet enough for a dessert in my opinion.

To round off the meal pine and rosemary brittle appeared. A great snap but for me the rosemary totally overpowered the brittle, half the amount would have rendered this awesome. All in all there was some inventive cooking I really liked some of the dishes very much but some didn't quite hit the mark for me but I will be interested to see what the other seasonal menus have to offer.

I wasn't completely sold on all the dishes and I think the prices are rather ambitious. But the setting of the restaurant was very nice especially with a very Christmassy feel. It is good for Clifton to have a different pub option over what is already on offer and I think the bar will be pretty popular. I for one will definitely be back to sample some of their gins. To find out more visit their website.

A donation was made to homeless charity Street Smart in return for the food and we paid for our drinks separately.