Bristol - where to blow £150
I need to go for a meal (for 2 people) in January in Bristol, and I need the bill to be about £150.
My short list is:-
1. Casamia (but have seen bad reviews about the service and my dietary requirements might be an issue as they seem to have a fixed menu)
2. Bordeaux Quay (good, but I ate there recently and would prefer somewhere new)
3. Bells Diner (I've read very mixed recent reviews, but I do like to try experimental food)
4. Culinaria (which doesn't look great but I've read rave reviews on the food)
5. Hotel du Vin (which is a chain but I've enjoyed meals there in the past).
Any opinions? Other suggestions?
(The £150 is to cover the entire bill including service and drinks).
Peg - it is a few years since I was last in Bristol but at the time I thought Bells was in a a much higher league than BQ which I though was very very very average (and I thought its popularity sums up the dearth of good options in Bristol). Surprised you label Bells as "experimental" from memory I thought it was a decent mix of classic techniques with a few modern twists, so in my book not really "out there". I also like the intimacy of the space and the charm of the FOH staff - it has been packed on all my visits and the punters all seemed to be comfortably happy (unlike BQ on my visit). I would like to try it again because I enjoyed it so much in the past.
I ate at Casamia a few times and it is limited. It is fantastic experimental food and some of the dishes work really well - I enjoyed both meals. However, I am allergic to walnuts which I told them on booking, they changed one dish for me by simply leaving them off. My friends where served parmasan crisps with walnut shavings, I got the crisps. Boring and a poor effort as the dish only worked with the walnuts, most restaurants would serve an alternative dish. Service however was always good, albeit low key as it is in the burbs. Would I go again? Maybe, but only if the menu had moved on, after a few visits I thought it was a little static.
I haven't tried the others in Bristol but Hotel du Vin (from experience other towns) is OK but not a big night out.
How about heading for Bath? It is only 15 mins on the train and you could do a really fabulous Saturday lunch at The Priory for that money (not certain how expensive dinner is) it is a nice luxury hotel with great gardens etc so if the weather is OK the terrace is lovely or I imagine in chilly weather they probably have roaring fires and cosy lounges. The service is wonderful and the kitchen is flexible enough to cater for dietary reqs, and my meal there in '09 was one of my best in the region over the years I lived there.
Peg, you'd be going some to spend £150 at Flinty Red - although it would be a great place to try. It's quite small and informal, though. A suggestion at the other end of the formality scale is Berwick Lodge, where Chris Wicks (of Bells fame) is in the kitchen. It's had some great reviews, Michelin are sniffing around.... might be worth a look!