It’s quite possible that Riverstation, on The Grove, has one of the best al fresco dining spaces in Bristol. The riverside terrace looks out over the river and the stunning terraced houses of Redcliffe Parade, while the floor to ceiling glass windows add a huge amount of warmth, even on a cold winter’s day.
It was so warm at our table downstairs when we visited for lunch recently that we actually had to head outside to cool off before our bill was paid – making us almost believe that it was the height of summer rather than early February.
We chose to dine in the bar and kitchen – the more informal and relaxed downstairs dining space. Upstairs, you’ll find a more formal restaurant, with both open seven days a week.
Diners can choose from more comfortable sofa style seating or traditional tables and chairs, all with a view of the open plan kitchen that shows the chefs hard at work.
The lunch menu features wide European influences, with the whistlestop tour of Europe including Greece (hummus), Italy (focaccia), Britain (chicken and cider pie), Spain (morcilla) and others – plenty of choice to suit all tastes. We could have chosen from a range of small plates, priced at £4.25 each or three for £12, but instead opted simply for a main course each from the six options listed on the menu.
For my dining companion, it was the bucatini with ling fillet, mussels, prawns, tomatoes and garlic (£9) that appealed: the pasta perfectly cooked, the sauce full of flavour and the portion certainly generous.
I also went down the fishy route, choosing a dish of roast pollock (£8.50), the fish tender and with a beautifully crispy skin, and served on a bed of lemony sumac chickpeas combined with sweet piquillo peppers, fiery chorizo and wilted spinach.
We were swayed by dessert too – each unable to resist the lure of a pecan tart (£5.50), the pastry the perfect thickness and lovely and crumbly, the filling sticky and sweet and matched with a generous spoon of clotted cream. Seriously indulgent.
Every time I visit Riverstation’s downstairs bar & kitchen, I’m amazed at the prices: for generous, well-presented, incredibly tasty dishes that are lovingly crafted with fresh local and seasonal ingredients, the prices are incredible. While there are plenty of new places springing up all over Bristol, sometimes the old favourites are well worth revisiting.