A parent’s visit is always a good excuse for going out for dinner, and that’s exactly what we did last Saturday. Having sent a list to my mother of places that I was keen to try, she eventually settled for Cotham Road South’s Juniper Restaurant.
After a quick drink at the nearby Cotham Porter Stores, we headed inside and were shown to our table upstairs. We’d booked for 8.30pm and the restaurant was heaving, with a mix of intimate tables for two (I feel sorry for the couple who were sat right next to the door, as Saturday night was freezing!) and tables for larger groups. Upstairs was warm and lively, with a group celebrating a 40th birthday party at one of the tables in a very purple-themed room.
The menu is a real mix of British and Continental, with some of the dishes highlighting the use of local ingredients such as Somerset pork and goats cheese, Welsh lamb and local wood pigeon. The list of starters offered a few vegetarian and a couple of fish options, with only one veggie option available as a main course for non-meat or fish eaters. The top of the menu highlighted a £5 champagne cocktail with peach liqueur and elderflower, but we skipped this and ordered a bottle of Montepulciano for 3 of the table, and a bottle of Stowford Press for me.
Our starters arrived surprisingly quickly after ordering, considering how busy the restaurant was, and the presentation was fantastic and portions larger than expected. The onion soup with a gruyere crouton was proclaimed to be a delicious combination of sweet and spicy, the wood pigeon with braised Puy lentils was a first foray into pigeon for one of our table, who was surprised at its gaminess. Laura ordered the trio of free-range duck, which included some fantastically flavoured slices of pink roast duck and a celeriac remoulade that reminded me of family holidays to the south of France.
I opted for the trio of fishcakes, served with a tomato and caper salsa and cucumber hollandaise. The flavours were fantastic, despite the fishcakes being a little overdone on the outside, and one of the fishcakes containing far too much potato for me to work out exactly which smoked fish it contained.
The wait for the main courses was equally short: I’m sure it was under 10 minutes between our starter plates being removed and the next course being presented to the table. All three of my fellow diners had ordered the rump of Welsh lamb and braised shoulder, served with olives and capers and thyme, potatoes dauphinoise and a lamb reduction, and all three of them cleared their plates.
I opted for the crispy belly of Somerset pork, a beautifully tender piece of meat with chewy yet crispy crackling. This was served with a rich and salty combination of chunks of ham hock and black pudding, a bubble and squeak cake, a creamy wholegrain mustard sauce and a tangy apple salsa that proved to be an amazing complement to the pork.
Again, the presentation was fantastic, and the portions were decently-sized – after working our way through the main course and the bowl of seasonal vegetables that was brought for the table to share (including brussels sprouts, which I love!), we were starting to feel a little full…
…not too full for dessert, however! Laura and I shared a toffee apple creme brulee with maple and pecan biscuits: an interesting take on the classic dessert with the combination of the toffee cream and the apple puree at the bottom of the cup reminding us of bonfire night. The trio of chocolate was polished off quickly by my mother’s partner, while her choice of a spiced plum crumble with coconut ice cream and candied ginger tasted fantastic but was marred slightly by a burnt crumble topping.
With starters priced at around £5-£8, mains from about £13 to £20 and desserts around the £7 mark, Juniper is by no means a cheap night out, but we had a very enjoyable meal and all four of us would definitely pay them a return visit in the future. Possibly sooner than expected, thanks to a special offer available on Monday, October 25th only…
Until midnight on the 25th, Groupon Bristol are offering a three course meal at Juniper for two people for only £28 rather than £70. The voucher is valid until November 25th, from Monday to Thursday only, and is for two people – although multiple vouchers can be bought as gifts.
To take advantage of this offer, head to the Groupon Bristol website and register as soon as possible!
The Groupon offer has now ended, but Vouchercloud are still offering a 25% discount off total bill at Juniper: click here for more details!