Familiar tastes of Britain bought up to date in a modern farmhouse-style restaurant, writes James Howells
In this dark, trying time we live in, there a few things that don’t result in disappointment. Those joyous moments in ones’ life that never fail to delight are few and far between. A conversation with an old friend, a vignette from a favourite film, a comforting plate of food…for many of us the modest sausage and the humble potato are but fond memories of growing up — like an old friend we haven’t spoken to in a while, or a fading film reel tucked away in a drawer. As we look back at the times we shared with sausage and mash we wonder "what happened?", we were so happy! It certainly wasn’t sausage and mash who changed. It was us. Worry not, hope is not lost, for at 7 Portland Street in the heart of Clifton Village, lies The Clifton Sausage, welcoming you back with open arms, just as if nothing had ever happened.
‘The Sausage’ as the locals call it, and believe me, there are many, serves what they call modern British, which is a combination of modernised classic dishes as well as using the best of British produce to create something else.
The dining space is accented with heavy pine tables, and sat-in chairs, it’s warm enough to welcome you in out of the cold, but also chic and spacious enough to be enjoyed on a sunnier day, thanks to the large glass-panelled windows.
The menu, obviously, features sausages. Of the many varieties supplied, at least six (including homemade vegetarian) usually appear on the menu at one time, all of which are served with mash, champ or toad in the hole. But the Sausage is no one-trick-pig, and other à la carte options include a trio of Wiltshire lamb, 28-day aged Wiltshire rib-eye, locally caught fish and sprouting broccoli and asparagus risotto.
Starters included a crispy fried duck egg, chorizo and tomato with toasted sour dough (£6.50), served home style in a terracotta dish — sufficient enough for a light meal on its own and delicious. The Chew Valley smoked salmon with lemon and dill on melba toast (£7) had the smoky fattiness of any good smoked salmon with capers to cut through the richness in all the right places. A very elegant introduction.
For the main event I opted for the local Gloucester Old Spot sausages with the mash of the day; clapshot and onion gravy (£10.45), all of which was spot-on. The sausages were generous, with snapping skin to reveal wonderfully seasoned meat, the mash was very importantly not a purée, but a proper buttery mash, all gently paddling in a rich onion gravy. My dining companion had the aptly named, ‘Clifton’ sausage, incased in a toad in the hole (£11.45). The pork, cider and wholegrain sausage tasted as proud as one might expect a sausage from Clifton to taste and the toad in the hole was perfect, in every sense of the word. To end we shared a sticky toffee pudding (£6), dark, velvety and bittersweet joy in a bowl. The whole experience resonated with childhood splendour and familiarity. Love can be a fickle thing, but sausages will love you forever.
The Clifton Sausage
7 Portland Street, Bristol
0117 973 1192