Ronnie’s is a restaurant that was recommended to me by a number of people when I moved to Bristol, but until recently (bearing in mind the lack of car) I hadn’t found the opportunity to visit. However, a night spent staying with a friend who lives in the town provided the perfect excuse to check it out…
According to the restaurant’s website, “a focus on quality, freshness and locally sourced ingredients prepared by a classically trained chef with a passion for food” means that “you are assured of a sublime and unforgettable dining experience”. I don’t think I’d read a single bad review of the place, and the only negative comment I’d heard was from a colleague who wasn’t happy with the temperature of the dining room when he visited last winter.
Our Thursday night visit meant that the fixed price menu was available: those making dinner reservations between Tuesday and Thursday can take advantage of 2 courses for £16, or 3 for £19, with a choice of three starters, three mains and three desserts.
On arrival, we were shown to the upstairs dining room; a warm, inviting room which at the time was decked out in a Christmassy red – everything from the table settings to the gift-wrapped boxes decorating the room. I have to admit that we ignored the a la carte menu (pre-Christmas being a slightly cash-strapped time of year!) and all three of us opted for the fixed price menu…and the same starter and main course options.
First out of the kitchen was a smoked mackerel terrine, a slab of smooth and creamy mousse bisected by a layer of salty smoked mackerel. A tangy yet sweet cucumber and caper salad and Maldon sea salt crostini proved the perfect accompaniments to the terrine.
For our main course, we’d all decided on the Parmesan coated pork tenderloin. Possibly not the most attractive dish I’ve ever eaten (see below) but I was amazed at the generosity of the portions: two large pieces of pork coated in a light Parmesan batter, served with cavolo nero (which I normally can’t stand, maybe I’m just cooking it the wrong way…) and a delicious black olive polenta.
Plates cleared, our waiter returned to our table with three menus: the one featuring the fixed price menu so that we could see which desserts were included, a separate dessert menu…and a cheese menu. Those of you who know me will understand why I opted to choose from the cheese menu at additional cost, rather than going for the single “cheese of the day” from the fixed price menu!
At 3 pieces for £6.50 or 5 for £9.50, it was definitely worth the extra money. The only problem for me was making a decision…the menu featured 10 cheeses, two of each in five categories: soft, Cheddar, rind washed, blue cows milk and goat. After much deliberation I went for the soft Wigmore, rind washed Kings Favourite and the Harbourne Blue goats cheese.
The cheese were served on a slate with the names of each chalked above – a nice touch. Again, the portions were generous, and included a serving of homemade spiced chutney, a selection of biscuits and crispy croutons.
Our other dining companion opted for the poached pears from the a la carte menu, served with a vanilla panna cotta and Belgian waffle…which was quickly polished off 🙂
At only around £25 for a three course meal, I’d definitely eat here again. Fortunately, the next time I won’t need to travel all the way to Thornbury…as the Ronnie’s team have taken over an empty restaurant in Clifton to launch their second venture.
The venue formerly known as The Muset on Clifton Road is now becoming “The Muset by Ronnie”, bringing the same ethos from Thornbury to Clifton. As with the existing venue, the focus will be on locally sourced ingredients prepared to order, but I’ve been told that there will also be more of a slant towards the drinks side, with a wine list featuring boutique producers from around the world and a focus on cocktails.
The Muset by Ronnie, the last I heard, is due to open in February 2011, but it appears that the team are still on the lookout for kitchen staff – click here if you are interested or know of anyone who may be…
Address: 11, St Mary Street, Thornbury, Bristol, BS35 2AB
Telephone: 01454 411 137