Posted 19th June 2015
Bristol Foodie writer Simon Lock manages an evening out without being bard
Like many of my thirty-something friends I now find it increasingly hard to function without first making a list. The longest of these lists, but the one I seem to get through the quickest, is my ‘new pubs to visit’ list. Near the top of said list for some weeks has been the Shakespeare in Redland, a pub that has been revamped and reopened by the team behind the Royal Oak on Gloucester Road, Neil and Olivia.
Perched high on a corner and with large front windows, the revamped Shakespeare feels light and airy even on a summer evening. The mix of locals and students make for a relaxed atmosphere, helped on by the staff, all of whom had that recognisable we’ve-only-just-opened glow about them, and were chatty and attentive. The chefs peer out from a large serving hatch, giving the bar area a healthy bustle that makes the short wait for a pint an enjoyable one.
I arrived with a healthy appetite and, despite the bard’s name on the sign, was in no mood for literature and was relieved to find a simple menu with a nice selection of pub classics. I’m not great when faced with a leafy menu, and my decision was made even easier when I was informed that Thursday night was steak night.
Thursday steak night entitled me and my fellow diner (Hayley) to two steaks and a bottle of house wine for just £30, an absolute bargain considering the neighbourhood, I was totally convinced. Hayley was less keen, and while I quietly contemplated the prospect of eating both steaks and ordering her a salad, we were offered a solitary steak outside of the deal (Foodie privileges, I’m afraid).
To kick things off we opted for bread, oil and hummus and the salt and pepper tempura squid. The squid was served with a chilli dipping sauce and was absolutely delicious. The batter was light and the squid itself tasted like it had been hauled off the boat that morning. This totally overshadowed the bread and hummus, which wasn’t bad at all. Other small bites included chilli and lime king prawns and tempura vegetables; “I’m coming back for you”, I thought, as I mentally pencilled in a return visit.
The steak was a rump and, although understandably not the choicest cut, was cooked and served beautifully. The skin-on chips, blue cheese sauce and Café de Paris butter made the £30 offer seem like an absolute no-brainer. Hayley opted for one of the six different burgers on offer; grilled chicken and avocado with salad and lemon mayo. Pub burgers have come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, and the Shakespeare is in a competitive market. Served in a brioche bun with a big mug of chips the chicken was really tasty, and if the rest of the options are this good the Shakespeare will be up there with the best of them.
The rest of the main course options were traditional crowd pleasers. Beer battered haddock, chicken and smoked bacon pie and a great selection of salads. The 2 meals for a tenner lunch time offer looks like good value and I’ve only heard good things about the Sunday lunch.
Both stuffed we decided one dessert was enough and opted for the baked lemon cheesecake with berry compote and two spoons. The third course didn’t disappoint and, although secretly wishing we’d ordered two desserts (or one spoon), I left with a smile and another big name ticked off the list.
With a courtyard garden, an excellent wine list and options for both veggies and children, it was no surprise to see the pub fill up around us. Despite a long list of new pubs I’m still to sample, this one will be getting a return visit very soon.
Lower Redland Rd
0117 9739 850