It had been a busy birthday. We’d been up since 8am for present unwrapped and to look at bikes (the pedal variety rather than the revving sort) with my Papa. Next on the schedule-of-birthday-fun was lunch with friends followed by a show. We knocked back a few post-theatre beverages to toast the anniversary of my beginning and then strolled on to our next engagement.
The Boy had arranged for a table at Bordeaux Quay on Bristol’s Harbourside. As soon as we walked through the door, I could feel myself relaxing. My day had been fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but I found myself looking forward to slowing down the pace and chilling out.
Arranged over two levels, Bordeaux Quay incorporates a restaurant, brasserie, wine bar, deli, bakery and cookery school. Mainly open plan, you might think that it would lack direction or that the various spaces might jar against one another but it works well. In the evening, you can choose from the more informal brasserie and ground floor bar or their rather swish wine bar and restaurant which is situated on the first floor via a grand wooden staircase.
I opted for a Bellini in the wine bar while The Boy opted for a Spiced Orchard – a ‘mocktail’ of apple juice, cinnamon, cloves and gingerbread syrup. Delish! My cocktail came with instructions; the barman served me my drink whilst telling me that it was ‘layered purely for aesthetic reasons’ (the peach purée and champagne were neatly separated) so I would need to ‘stir well’ before enjoying. I duly stirred and enjoyed. I do love Bellini’s.
Our drinks duly quaffed, we were moved through into the restaurant and presented with a menu a piece. Bordeaux Quay is famed for its sustainable and local food sourcing – everything must be seasonal with minimal food miles. This certainly showed on the menu; it’s concise but bursting with West Country ingredients. It’s great to see a restaurant championing such a fantastic mission.
Our waitress, however, was not local. I have absolutely nothing against immigration but I do feel that the person needs to be able to speak the language. Still, she took our order and served us a canapé while we waited. We were presented with espresso cups filled with a soup of gloriously green ground elders. The Boy isn’t a fan of elderflower in any form but we both loved this.
To start, I couldn’t resist the Spiced crab cakes with crab mayonnaise which was garnished with a pretty salad of various leaves and flowers. The crab cakes were served hot and were nicely spiced. The Boy went for an Assiette of pork terrines which was a nice tasting platter of brawn, rillette and paté accompanied by salad and pickled vegetables. It was slightly refreshing to get a ‘proper’ appetiser size portion – they weren’t measly like some establishments but they left us wanting more. Sadly, both of our dishes were over seasoned. Having ordered a glass of their Viognier, I was faced with the sommelier brandishing an entire bottle. Luckily I was able to stop him before he uncorked it though, on tasting it, I realised that a whole bottle would’ve gone down quite well!
We didn't have to wait for long before our mains arrived. The Boy had chosen their Curried Lentils, aubergine and courgette with saffron rice, tomato sauce and coconut which was very fragrant. The delicious scent of cardamom had me drooling across the table. The spiced lentils (a lot like dhal) were laid on a pool of smooth coconut milk which was a pleasing contrast in texture and flavour. After much deliberating, I decided on a Fillet of Bass on a bed of wilted sorrel scattered with wild fennel gnocchi, mushrooms and covered in a luxurious beurre blanc. The fish combined with the beurre blanc was fantastically smooth. Again, both portions were fairly sized but not too big. We came away feeling pleasantly full - neither of us felt like we needed pudding.
Bordeaux Quay is well worth a visit if you like fresh, feel-good food. I haven't sampled the Brasserie but the Restaurant and Wine Bar were a fantastic experience. We were there during peak time - Saturday dinner time - and they were quite full but this didn't impact on the level service (even if their English skills were lacking). Over-seasoned starters aside, the food and wine was very good. I was impressed to see that they mark vegetarian choices on the menu, even down vegetarian rennet in the cheese list. They have an extensive wine list (many are available by the glass) and their menu changes with the seasons.
Starters: £7.50 - £8
Mains: £12.50 - £21
Bordeaux Quay is on Bristol's Harbourside, opposite the Arnolfini. Restaurant Tel: 0117 9431200.