Please note: our food and drinks at Bar + Block Bristol were received free of charge, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.
How do you decide on what to eat when you go out for a meal? Do you stick to tried and tested favourites, or are you drawn in by the word “new” next to certain dishes?
For me, it all depends on mood…sometimes I’ll go with a dish I know I love, sometimes I’ll ask the server for their recommendations. At other times, I’ll give the new menu additions a go, figuring that if the venue has added them then they must be proud of them!
So on a recent visit to the Bristol branch of Bar + Block on King Street, we were excited to give their new autumn/winter menu offerings a go. These new additions include two varieties of chicken wings, a prawn starter, new steak and chicken options, a range of sides and more.
We were seated at the far end of the restaurant, and as we visited early in the evening (three-year-old in tow), it was nice and quiet, with beautiful lighting and a great view of the world going by on Welsh Back.
On the other side of the table, it was the Korean chicken wings (£5.50) to start with: five plump, beautifully presented wings glistening with their sweet, sticky glaze and sprinkled with fiery red chilli and sliced spring onion. Smokey, sweet and sticky with a delicious char on the skin, the meat was juicy and tender and fell easily off the bone. There was nothing, I was told, that specifically tasted particularly Korean, but they were very much enjoyed.
Lured by the promise of samphire, I ordered the jumbo garlic prawns with “plenty of garlic butter, samphire, flatbread and a wedge of lemon” – and the £6.50 price tag seemed a little steep. The three juicy prawns were cooked well enough but the promised garlic butter was very much lacking – I was hoping to have something to mop up with the flatbread, which was quite doughy but tasted good. The small quantity of samphire on the plate made it feel like an afterthought too.
The bone-in steak (£29) main course on the other side of the table was a beast: a 30-day aged T-bone with beef dripping triple cooked chunky chips and Bar + Block’s homemade chimichurri. The steak? Incredible. Great seasoning, great char, great cooking. And a beautifully rich flavour thanks to that bone being left in. The chips were decent too – full of flavour and just crispy enough – and while that sauce didn’t resemble chimichurri in the slightest, it was bright and spiced and great for dunking the chips.
A few more strands of that samphire, too – more than on my starter, in fact…
Also new on the menu is the Bar + Block charcoaled chicken: choose from a half (£15) or whole (£19) chicken cooked over charcoal, with a choice of Korean BBQ sauce or beer can marinade, a choice between five different potato sides, and a huge range of vegetable options. I went for the half chicken, beer can marinade, beef dripping triple cooked chunky chips, and a loaded Cos wedge with blue cheese sauce.
The main dish was brought out first, leading to some conclusion: I hadn’t ordered the charcoal-grilled corn (listed as one of the side options), and wasn’t expecting the rocket salad. And then the Cos wedge appeared: less a wedge, more a half lettuce, grilled to give deliciously crunchy parts to some leaves, and smothered with blue cheese sauce, bacon and croutons. I don’t know about anyone else, but grilled lettuce is a massively underrated side dish – especially when covered in a creamy blue cheese dressing!
The chicken? Delicious. Succulent, full of flavour, with a beautifully crisp skin (I normally leave the skin if it’s not cooked enough to my taste, but I devoured the lot). The corn was decent and the chips, as above, were delicious.
My dining partner was hoping to try the New York cheesecake from the new dessert options, but with it sadly not available on the night, he went with the zesty lemon tart (£6) instead. Vanilla ice cream seemed like an odd choice of accompaniment, but it helped him to capture every last bit of flaky pastry. The filling? A great balance between zesty and sweet, and lovely and creamy.
Apple & blackberry crumble is a classic autumn dessert, and it’s made it onto the seasonal menu at Bar + Block at the price of £6. The chunky apple and blackberry filling had clearly been spooned into the bowl, the crunchy, oaty crumble mix being sprinkled over the top before the whole thing was nuked in the microwave – it was like lava when it was brought to the table! A separate jug of custard meant I could control how much I wanted – and while it took a while to be able to eat, because of the heat, it was just as comforting as I was hoping.
While Bar + Block is known for its steak and cocktails, there’s plenty of choice for those who aren’t steak fans too. With its central location, its child-friendly nature, its beautiful interior and its wide range of dishes, it’s easy to see why it’s a popular place – but I’d probably stick just with a main course and sides if I were to go again.