On a hot sunny day in Bristol there aren’t many better places to hang out than on the waterfront, particularly by the Arnolfini. After soaking up the last of the summer sun in Queen’s Square last week, we headed to the area after being invited to try Bristol Hotel’s River Grille restaurant.
The glass cased restaurant is a great place to sit and watch the world go by, with seats all along the floor-to-ceiling windows. The décor has a slightly industrial feel (probably something to do with all the steel and glass), and while it is modern it isn’t trying too hard, and it certainly doesn’t feel like any hotel restaurants I have been in before – much more atmosphere thanks to the location.
I must admit, I was a bit sceptical before we went, I had read the menu, and in particular the ‘deconstructed 80s scampi’, and ‘celebration of pig’, and my previous experiences of hotel restaurants hasn’t been great. But, the relaxed atmosphere and attention to detail soon put me at ease.
As well as the crazy names, we also noticed that there was a wide selection of clearly labelled gluten free options on the menu – a winner for a few of our friends. After ordering a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, which arrived with its own ice bucket, I ordered the oven blushed tomato, courgette and wild garlic tart to start, while Gemma went for the maple glazed bbq chicken ballotine.
Chef Kai Taylor has only been at the River Grille for a matter of months, but is making his mark with a selection of quirky, but appetising dishes. The tart was nice, good pastry, sweet tomatoes and tangy cheese and garlic although I’m not sure the sweet potato salsa(!) added anything, while the chicken impressed Gemma, particularly the crispy chicken skin.
For my main I couldn’t possibly ignore the scampi – I love it in pubs, and while the description made me cringe a bit, I had to try it! Gemma went for the garlic and mint rubbed lamb on the bone from the grill – all meat comes from one of our favourite butchers Ruby and White.
The scampi wasn’t exactly ‘deconstructed’, but it was a step above your usual pub scampi and chips, served on a wooden board with two enormous langoustine looking at me surrounded by lightly bread crumbed succulent prawns and double cooked chips. The chips could have been crispier, but when Gemma tried one of my prawns she had instant food envy, despite me drooling at the look of her well cooked lamb.
By that point we were too full for pudding, but the ‘entertaining’ rhubarb sounded interesting! Instead we relaxed in the window while we finished our wine and enjoyed some complementary homemade fudge.
We went for the a la carte menu, but they also do a set menu of two courses for £19.95 or three for £24.95 – which is more affordable for most as the mains peak at £21.50 on the main menu.
The verdict? Not your average hotel restaurant – a relaxing place to watch the world go by. Don’t let the quirky menu put you off, the food is well executed and there are some great options, including gluten free!
River Grille restaurant
Prince Street, Bristol BS1 4QF
t. 0117 923 0333