The Runcible Spoon

Today saw the first roast of the season for my boyfriend and me, so we were keen to set the bar high. I had heard lots of good things about the new people in charge of The Runcible Spoon so we decided to give their roasts a try. After a lovely stroll in the unseasonably warm sunshine, we met up with our fellow roasty enthusiast Rachael and headed in.

The Runcible Spoon is a teeny tiny venue and the majority of seating is downstairs, below street level. The room we sat in is cosy, and there’s still a fair amount of natural light from the little pavement-level window, especially on a sunny day.

Both Simon and I went for the slow cooked lamb, and Rachy had the beef. The beef looked nice, but not nearly rare enough for me, so I was glad with lamb. There was also pork on the menu, but that had sold out by the time we got there, and a cheese and onion tart as a veggie option.

The lamb was excellent; a really generous, thick slice of meat of incredibly tender and tasty meat. Both roasts came with roasties, veg and a huuuuuge yorkie. The veg consisted of some cabbage and cauliflower both plain but tasty, and some roasted root veg which were delicious, particularly the carrots. The roasties were pleasant enough, but mine tasted like they had been allowed to go cold then been reheated. The yorkies were enormous and tasty. They could have done with maybe a few minutes less in the oven as the tops were a little over-cooked. The gravy was lovely, and plentiful with an extra jug being provided for the table. I would have loved some braised cabbage, or something with a sweet edge, to compliment the lamb but that’s just me being picky; the portion was excellent and we certainly felt well fed.

Miraculously, we all had room for pudding. There was only one choice but luckily it was apple and plum crumble. It was a perfectly nice crumble (maybe a bit light on the crumble for greedy me) but it was very much overshadowed by the outstanding custard.

At £12.50 per roast, and £2.50 for puddings, The Runcible Spoon is excellent value and well worth a visit. We will definitely be back.

8/10 #nom Continue reading

The Volunteer Tavern

Today’s roast was at The Volunteer Tavern. The Volly is a little gem tucked away behind Cabot Circus. Once you’re all tucked up inside it’s very easy to forget you’re right in the middle of town!

The Volly has the spectacular idea of a roast called ‘The Trinity’ which is chicken, beef and pork.

Volly Trinity

Everything on the plate was delicious! The beef was lovely and rare, and the crackling was wonderful. The belly pork had been cooked long and slow and was succulent without being fatty.

The roasties received praise from everyone; they were crunchy on the outside and smooth and soft inside. The veg were all simply done, but it’s worth nothing that the broccoli was bright and green; no khaki slop here! The gravy was delicious and we were provided with an extra jug of it. That’s always a nice touch, I think.

All in all a fantastic roast from The Volly. I can’t wait to go back!

The Volunteer Tavern; 8.5/10

The Rose of Denmark

Last week, a few of us went to The Rose of Denmark last Sunday. It’s somewhere I’ve been several times, but not for a while so I was keen to see if it was still as nice as I remembered.

If you fancy going, I strongly suggest booking; it was heaving! We  sat downstairs in the basement which is still bright and pleasant, though the stairs are rather perilous.

Pate with Black Pudding

To start, I shared the pate with Simon. It was lush! There was a layer of Black Pudding in the middle, and two different textures of pate. It was very tasty and rich. Nom.

Lamb

For my roast, I chose shoulder of lamb. I was expecting it to be slow-roasted, as shoulders usually are, but it wasn’t. It was tasty and the meat was tender and pink, but cutting around the fat and sinew did rather spoil it for me. The sides were red cabbage, creamed leeks, (what I think was) carrot and swede mash, roasties and parsnips. They were all great apart from the fact the roasties were a little undercooked.

The others all had the pork, which came with the same sides. It was well received, and the little piece of crackling was perfectly crisp and salty.

For pudding, I had an orange creme brulee. It was one of the nicest creme brulees I have ever had! The orange flavour was subtle and delicious, and the sugar on top was crisp and delicious. Fantastic. It came with two almond and chilli truffles. Despite loving both almonds and chilli, I didn’t really like these. I thought they were oddly dry, although the amount of chilli was perfect to accentuate the chocolate. creme brulee

I really enjoyed the roast at The Rose of Denmark and I would definitely return.

The Rose of Denmark; 7/10

River Grille at The Bristol Hotel

 

 

 

At some point last year I went for an excellent meal at The River Grille, and when I was sent their Sunday menu the other day I thought it was about time I paid them a return visit.

The Sunday menu has a somewhat unusual format as two of the four courses for £19.95 are in the form of a buffet.

A little while after we were seated our orders were taken. We were ready to give our order immediately, but we couldn’t catch anyone’s attention. We weren’t left waiting toooo long though. As soon as our orders were taken, we headed up to the buffet to pick some starters. There’s a wide range of salads and meats and so on. As you can see, there were lots of things that caught my eye! The highlight  of this selection was the silky smooth pate. I didn’t catch what it was, but I suspect chicken liver. It was really delicious. The bread was crisp and moreish. In all honesty, I could have happily had a meal just picking at these bits and bobs!

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Shortly afterwards, our soup arrived. It was a non-descript but inoffensive vegetable soup. I enjoyed mine and finished it, but other members of my party were less keen. And yes, they did give us a spoon, you just can’t see it in that photo…

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Next up, main course. I went for the beef, as did two of my companions, with the boyfriend choosing the turkey.

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Sigh. I wanted to love it, I really did. Going here was my idea, and at £20 it’s more than any of us would normally spend on a roast. But it was just, meh. Underwhelming. Bland. Inoffensive. Good value in some ways. Just… boring. I don’t think it helped that for the last two weeks we’ve had flippin’ fantastic roasts.

If you’ve read either of my last two reviews, you’ll know one of my pet hates with roasts is plain veg. There was a meagre bowl of completely plain anaemic-looking (and a little overcooked) cabbage, some mangetout (or possible sugar snap peas, I can’t remember) and two, yes, TWO florets of broccoli. For FOUR of us. Unseasoned, no butter. Plain. Inoffensive. Meh.

The beef may have had some pink in it, but I can’t vouch for this as the whole of my plate was doused in gravy. Luckily, I like gravy. The beef had a very odd texture; weirdly jelly-like and chewy. But not actively bad. I was told the turkey was “fine”. Meh.

There were some little cubes of what I think were roasted carrots and parsnips. I liked these, but I only has about 4 or 5 of them. I’d have liked more.

The yorkies weren’t overcooked (yay!) and they were light and crispy, but not especially tasty. I’d guess there wasn’t any seasoning in the batter. Or maybe just not enough to my taste.

The roasties were squidgy (yay!). I liked this but noone else did…

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Pudding. This was odd. There were labels on the buffet for what these were, but they didn’t seem to really fit their titles. The square in the bowl is some sort of cake. It was hard. Really hard. I love sponge puddings, so I doused it in custard to try and soften it up, but it was still hard to cut with a spoon. That’s the thing about buffets; things can dry out and go past their best, If this’d been left as a loaf, and not so many slices done in advance, it might have been a little more tender. It was labelled as bread and butter pudding, but it was a faintly spicy sponge – possibly ginger. The flavour wasn’t bad at all, and was nice with the custard, but it was just too tough too be actively nice. The custard itself was oddly foamy, and a little too sweet for my taste, but still pleasant enough.

The square with a chocolate top is, apparently, Baileys cheesecake. I love Baileys, and I love cheesecake. This was unlike any cheesecake I’ve ever had before. And I don’t mean that in a good way, exactly. As with so much of this meal, it really wasn’t actively bad, it was just boring. Bland. I detected no Baileys, and this wasn’t just my piece – we all had one, and none of us could taste it. The biscuity base was nice. I think it might have been shortbread. I quite liked it. I have no idea what the filling was. It looked like whipped cream with crumbled Flake mixed in. The chocolate topping was a bit thick and rubbery.

Lastly, I tried a creme brulee. This was my favourite of the three. The custard bit was rather eggy, but nice enough. Sadly all the vanilla seeds had sunk to the bottom. The sugar was still crisp, despite having sat for a little while.

Two of the people I was with had crumble. It appeared to be pineapple and strawberry. Not a traditional crumble filling. There may well be a good reason for this…

This is all ok. Fine. But when push comes to shove, I did not enjoy my experience today and neither did my companions.  The service was vacant and inattentive. The language barrier was repeatedly an issue, albeit a minor one. We struggled to catch a waiter or waitresses attention on more than one occasion. Not once were we asked if everything was ok with our meals, until we’d actually finished paying. There was no real atmosphere to the room. It felt soulless and commercial. The staff looked bored. The floors were dirty. Things like that matter to me.

In some ways, the River Grille is good value for money. If you’re hungry, the buffet style starters and pudding mean you could go away feeling very full. But here’s the rub; in a city with so so so many amazing places to go for a roast, this just doesn’t cut it for me. For £20 I could walk for five minutes in any direction and go somewhere and have a much more satisfying experience. In fact, had I known what lunch would have been like I’d have spent half as much and got a burrito and some fro yo.

River Grille; 5/10

 

 

Bishopston Supper Club

So! The rather belated review this week is of Bishopston Supper Club which is run by Danielle Coombs.

Here’s the menu;

Roast Exmoor venison, slow-roast shoulder of Gloucester Old Spot pork OR mushroom, celeriac and lentil Wellington (v), all served with lots of veggies and all the trimmings.

Marmalade sponge pudding with whisky custard OR salt caramel chocolate tart.

I went for the pork and the salt caramel chocolate tart.

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As you can see, there’s plenty of amazing thing on that plate! I’m a huge fan of roasts where stuff’s been done to the veg. One of the places that used to be my absolute favourites has been ousted from my favour is for their decision to switch from braised cabbage, creamed leeks etc to just steamed veg. I’m sure it’s healthier and easier, but I’m not looking for that in my roast…

Anyway! On that plate you can see a big pile of pork, cabbage (January King if I remember correctly) roast parsnips, roast (??) carrots, white bean mash, carrot and swede mash, cauliflower cheese, braised red cabbage, roasties, a yorkie and home made apple sauce.

We were given our plates with just the meat and all the sides were brought to the table in dishes (and dishes and dishes) for helping ourselves. I took a picture of the sides as they were arriving, and I kept having to take another and another as more arrived.

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I have been to one of Danielle’s Sunday roast clubs before, and knew that we’d be in for a treat. I was not disappointed. The meat was incredibly tender, and each and every one of the sides was amazing.

Pork; tender, succulent, flavourful.

Green cabbage;  a wonderful, fresh green. Just enough crunch remaining.

Roast parsnips and carrots; tender and sweet. Went brilliantly with the pork.

White bean mash; this was a new one for me with a roast! It was wonderfully smooth and silky. Lovely.

Carrot and swede mash; I really have no idea how Danielle made these humble veg taste so incredible. I could have eaten a whole bowlful, seriously.

Cauliflower cheese; Simple and tasty. The cauliflower was perfectly cooked. I’m not really a big fan of cauliflower but went back for seconds of this (and maybe, ahem, thirds…)

Braised red cabbage; one of my favourite, favourite things in a roast. I judge it quite harshly as I think my own is pretty spectacular (thanks Saint Delia). Danielle’s was finely sliced which I really liked (being a bit of a lazy chopper myself) and it was just the right amount of sweetness and had a great depth of spiced flavour.

Roasties; Oh roasties. There were great – fluffy and tasty. Just the right amount of squidge to satisfy me, and enough crunch to satisfy the boyfriend. That’s pretty incredible, really.

Yorkie; (extra yorkies came later than the photo, which were even bigger and fluffier) crisp, light fantastic. I really don’t like over-done yorkies and these were great.

Home made apple sauce; not too sweet, nice chunks of apple.

I loved the fact that we could help ourselves to whatever we wanted and as much as we wanted. I really cannot praise this roast enough. I loved it. LOVED it. I was very glad that I’d been driven there as walking home would have been quite a challenge. The carrot and swede mash, braised cabbage and, of course, the meat were highlights for me. I could have eaten any of those on their own for a meal and been happy.

Next, pudding. Amazingly, yes, I did have room. There was just enough space between courses to make a chocolate-tart-shaped hole in my appetite. I don’t really like pastry, but luckily the pastry on this was incredibly thin and crisp and was very tasty, almost biscuity. The chocolate filling was dark and the perfect balance of sweet and bitter. The salt caramel sauce was excellent. My only criticism was that I’d have like more salt caramel, though I should temper this with the fact I regularly eat salt caramel straight from the jar with a spoon, so I’m perhaps not to be trusted where salt caramel amounts are concerned… I really, really enjoyed this pudding.

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Next up, coffee/tea and truffles. Oh the truffles. Some of the best I’ve ever had.

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Danielle also bought out an ‘extra’ pudding. Rosewater and raspberry parfait. I am addicted to rosewater. And parfait. This was sublime. Danielle’s parfaits are always wonderful – her caramel one is one of my all time favourite puddings, ever. This rosewater and rhubarb one was fantastic too – it was incredibly fresh and light, but just rich enough to still be extremely satisfying.

My only, very small criticism of the roast as a whole is that the crackling wasn’t crunchy enough. To be completely honest, if Danielle hadn’t  said she was unhappy with it, or had left it off the plate, I’d have not even thought about crackling – the plate was no less awesome for the lack of crackling.

I could happily litter this entire review with superlatives and each and every one would be well-deserved. If you get the chance to go to Danielle’s roasts, go. In fact, I strongly suggest trampling your nearest and dearest in order to get to one.

Bishopston Supper Club; 9.5/10

The Gallimaufry

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Today’s my birthday! Yay! So a big bunch of us went to The Gallimaufry on Gloucester Road. The Gallimaufry

I’d been there a few times before for some food, and they’d generally been positive experiences. The roasts in particular had been great, so I decided that we’d go there for my birthday lunch.

I had pork belly. It came with cauliflower cheese, braised red cabbage, roasties and a yorkie. There were also generous bowls of broccoli and carrots for the table. The pork had been roasted beautifully; it fell apart and there was a good crunch to most of the crackling. I have no idea of anyone else’s preference, but I like it when almost all the fat renders away, and that was the case here. Quite often I sit there scraping it off (jellied textures make me queasy…) but today, joy of joys, the whole thing was edible.

The cauliflower cheese and braised cabbage were very nice, as was the yorkie. I hate it when Yorkshire puddings are over done, but this one was fine.

Now. Roast potatoes. A veritable minefield in the roasty world of my friends and I. I know that I am considered a bit of a weirdo in that I like my roasties well-done but soft. These were crunchy ones. This was by far the preferred roasty texture for everyone but me, so I can’t dock any points for the lack of squidge…

I also nicked a bit of my boyfriend’s beef. It was nicely pink and very tender. Really great.

There was also a fish and a veggie option. No-one had the fish, but two people in the party had the leek tart and said it was very nice.

It’s worth a mention to say how great the service was. There weren’t many staff on, two or three perhaps? But we were so wonderfully looked after. My friend was saying how he loves honey on his carrots, and so some was brought out for him. That’s pretty fantastic. And we were a biiiig group (15), but everyone’s food came out at the same time.

The puddings were ok. Nothing really fantastic today, but in the past I’ve had an Earl Grey creme brûlée which was wonderful, so I think today was just a one off.

Overall, I really can’t rate the Galli highly enough. If I had to be really critical, all I can come up with was that the carrots and broccoli weren’t as hot as I’d have liked, but really I’m nit-picking. It was a fab lunch. Great staff, great food.

The Galli; 9/10

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