On a Friday night in September, we were among the first diners to enjoy some of the new dishes on offer on the revamped Brigstow Bar & Kitchen autumn menu. Located on Millennium Promenade, Natasha Pierce’s bar and restaurant has a truly enviable location overlooking the water, and it’s been permanently busy in the summer months, with a large terrace attracting warm weather drinkers and an innovative and well-priced menu from head chef Andy Clatworthy drawing in those looking for a bite to eat for lunch or dinner.
Already, just 5 months after opening, the team have made it into this year’s Good Food Guide, joining seven other new entries from Bristol for this year.
Just a quick jaunt around the Harbourside from our flat, we decided to visit on a Friday night with family.
Inside, the floor to ceiling windows give the relatively small dining room a lovely open feel, while its minimalist, relaxed design is a contrast to the hustle and bustle of the surprisingly tiny open plan kitchen just around the corner behind the bar.
While the tasting menu (£46 for 7 courses) was tempting, we instead decided to go a la carte, and enjoyed plenty more than we bargained for.
Before our starters arrived, we and other diners were treated to no fewer than six complimentary small plates on the house…
Beautifully crispy linseed biscuits with thick and creamy skyr and a flavoursome sweet and sour dill oil was followed by some slightly confusing citric acid meringues, which continued the sweet and sour theme…
These were followed by a mouthful of delicately spiced crayfish on a thick, deep fried rectangle of crispy nori, and a thick slice of crispy chicken skin with a dollop of burnt lemon mayo that cut through the richness.
Finally, a slice each of succulent cured ribeye, which, as Andy explained (I love it when chefs bring dishes to tables and actually meet the people they’re cooking for!), has been cured for one month and hung for two – and that definitely came through in its flavour. Finally, a fresh-from-the-oven treacle roll, presented on a board with three different butters (truffle, dill and smoked – my favourite of the three) and accompanying flavoured salts.
All this before our meal had even really begun, and we were already impressed with everything bar the uncomfortable solid wood seating – it was easy to see why cushions were provided!
I was quite glad that I’d ordered one of the lighter starter options – the combination of beetroot with whipped cheese (£7) was too tempting to miss. Thin slivers of golden beetroot sat on top of puréed and cubed traditional red beetroot, the whipped cheese adding a light and fresh contrast to the earthy flavours.
The salt hake (£16) that I ordered for my main was certainly generous: three large hunks of beautifully cooked fish with its crispy skin still attached. The accompanying fishcake was stunning, while the combination of Chinese seaweed-style crispy kale and vanilla infused carrots balanced out the saltiness nicely.
We ordered two sides to share between the three of us – to be honest, though, we didn’t really need them with the amount of food we’d already eaten. The heritage potatoes (£3.50) were perfectly cooked and great for mopping up sauces, while the firm and nutty black badger peas (also £3.50) were given the autumnal treatment with the rich and wintry flavours of black pudding and bacon. There was only one real negative throughout our mains, with more of the delicious jus wanted to accompany the roe deer dish, which was a little dry without.
Despite the amount we’d eaten, dessert was far too tempting to pass up. On the other side of the table, the juniper custard with lime shortbread and meringue (£6.50) was a hit, while I was swayed by the chocolate dish (£7), which promised “all different temperatures and textures”.
I wasn’t disappointed…although I did need help to finish it. Three thick slabs of chocolate brownie were rich, moist and gooey, just how they should be, while a chocolate mousse was a lighter contrast to a thick milk chocolate ganache. The thick disc of frozen white chocolate parfait added something a little different, while the mound of popping candy was a lovely touch!
I’ve seen reports on TripAdvisor of Brigstow Bar & Kitchen being poor value for money, but I’d have to disagree. Even without the extra touches, a three course meal is around the £30 mark: amazing value given the quality of the ingredients, the innovative dishes and the flavours. Definitely recommended.