Posted 3rd January 2010
A December birthday the week before Christmas is always a difficult one to celebrate for a foodie who enjoys eating out. Undoubtedly your favourite restaurant will be full and everywhere is much busier than usual.
We managed to get a table for two at The Bridge Café in Clifton, the restaurant attached to the Avon Gorge Hotel, overlooking the Clifton Suspension Bridge. After reading their menu at home, I was looking forward to a rich and festive meal ahead.
So I was surprised to walk into a near empty restaurant with only one other couple eating (on a Thursday night, the week before Christmas?!?!) In spite of the quiet dining room, the table with the best view of the bridge was yet to be cleared. Unfazed and in no rush, we took a seat in the lounge and made a start on a very good rioja whilst we waited for our table.
We decided to skip starters heading straight for the main courses. I chose wild pheasant breast and leg, served with sprouts, smoked bacon and chestnuts; my boyfriend had pork belly with apple, smoked bacon and sage ravioli, in a cider jus.
Whilst the meals were served quickly and beautifully presented, the food was somewhat a disappointment. Although I can’t fault anything specifically for being cooked badly, nothing was bursting with flavour and there was certainly no X-factor present. The pheasant had none of the strong, gamey flavour I’ve come to expect from the bird and the pork dish didn’t live up to the flavours it boasted in its menu description.
Nonetheless we finished all of our food and, somewhat deflated, decided to retire to the lounge to finish our wine and maybe treat ourselves to an after dinner short (by this point we were the only couple in what is a pretty large restaurant so the atmosphere wasn’t all that inviting).
Obviously, December is full of Christmas parties and festive celebrations are to be expected wherever you go, by the time we decided to leave there was a throng of people at the lounge bar following work parties. With an open plan lounge and dining area it was just as well that there were no diners left as their romantic evening would have certainly been interrupted. The bar-come-waiting staff were too busy in fact to get our coats and we found ourselves having to ask three different people just to retrieve our belongings and go home.
Whilst the evening itself was enjoyed by both of us, I feel that this had more to do with the company than the food. I had gone to The Bridge Café with the expectation of being wowed and unfortunately was only wowed by the view as the food failed to make a lasting impression.
Verdict: The problem with the Bridge Café is that it can’t decide if its a restaurant or a bar. We arrived expecting a high quality, fine dining restaurant experience however ate distinctly average food – fine for a light lunch but not up to scratch for a romantic meal. The waiting staff were polite, but too casual for a restaurant which is trying to be more formal. All in all, a perfectly adequate meal, but not somewhere I would recommend.
The Bridge Cafe
Avon Gorge Hotel, Sion Hill, Clifton
0117 9738 955