Head to the Old Butcher's for some Spanish sunshine, writes Sammy Milton
Easing slowly back into the new year, it’s been a delight to hear about all the exciting new openings happening in Bristol’s restaurant scene in 2018. It seems our bustling little city is about to get some fantastic new additions, and whilst we can’t wait, it’s important to remember old friends too.
Now, we know the Old Butcher’s isn’t that old, but they were a pretty big name for Bristol in 2017. Opening with a bang, they started serving excellent local brews and moved onto the tastes of the deep south with Carol’s Crab Shack.
Following this, they launched Platos – Spanish-inspired small plates just made for sharing.
We were invited down last week to give these a try, so on a grey and bleak Wednesday evening, we were ushered into the warm restaurant, promptly seated and presented with a menu. Of a pleasing length, it was more difficult to try and decide not what to have. Everything looked great, so on the recommendation of our friendly waitress, we ordered six dishes to share.
I’ll be honest here – it was a bit hit and miss. Some dishes dazzled and danced on the tongue, whilst others slightly fizzled. Atun (smoked yellow fin tuna served with a drizzle of smoked oil and almonds) was delicate and fresh, and the wonderful flavour of the fish married beautifully with the sweetness of the nuts. Gambas came next – the prawns were slightly overcooked, but you could forgive this for the sauce they came swimming in. Dark and rich, it was unctuously decadent and most pleasing.
The chicken empanada was of an excellent size but of a less ideal consistency. Ever so slightly too dense, the flavour of the chicken was lost in the doughy pastry. Still, it was hot and filling and most welcome on a chilly evening, so no major complaints here. Cecina croquettes came next – deep-fried balls of cured Iberian beef, béchamel sauce and loveliness. These were perfect. The little balls were piping hot, full of flavour and went beautifully well with their accompanying wasabi cream.
Jamon butter (ham butter – just as fabulous as it sounds) arrived with thick cut, springy sourdough and wincingly-good pickled chillis, a most delicious combination, and, best of all, was the chistorra. A huge swirl of spiced sausage served with a tangy mustard remoulade. This was the stand-out dish for me; the sausage was perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of spice and the creamy kick of the remoulade was the cherry on top. Wonderful!
We also tried the special – crab and salt cod-stuffed piquillo peppers with chives and crème fraiche. Although it was slightly underwhelming tastewise (the crab and salt cod were drowned out somewhat by the crème fraiche), they were still wonderfully juicy and fresh, a nice cleansing afterthought at the end of our meal.
We were easily persuaded into trying some of the churros with chocolate and chilli sauce – and how glad we were too! Hot and crispy, the sauce was deep and luscious, needless to say we wiped that particular plate clean very quickly.
So it was a bit of a mixed bag. But so what? The good dishes were outstanding, and that, coupled with Bristol’s finest local beers and the wonderful waiting staff, it was really was a most pleasant evening. So if you’re in need of a little Spanish sunshine in these dreary winter months, head over to Bedminster and share a platos or two.
The Old Butcher’s
57 North Street, Bristol BS3 1HJ
0117 963 3166