Jamaica Street Stores offers a different kind of dining experience, writes Sammy Milton
With all the news circulating Stokes Croft at the moment, things are looking a little bleak. MEATliquor is shutting down and Hamilton House is continually battling to stay afloat – mix that with the blocks of bad weather and everyone’s feeling down. Luckily, there’s a new addition to the area, one that seems to be not only thriving, but putting a smile on everyone’s faces too.
Jamaica Street Stores opened just a couple of months ago and has been receiving rave reviews ever since. Looking at it from the outside, it’s quite the sight – a huge warehouse space, spilling light onto the pavement with teams of happy diners within. Myself and my dining companion arrived on a chilly Wednesday evening into the warm, enveloping atmosphere, truly excited to try the food and see what everyone was talking about.
Sat at the bar (where we got the best view of the chefs working), we took in the space – elegantly styled, it’s modern without being pretentious and features high ceilings and big windows. We ordered drinks and looked over the menu – there was vegetable, fish, meat and (exciting) raw sections in the form of small plates – something for everyone.
We sipped our drinks and chatted away with the immensely friendly staff and the food began to arrive in quick succession. From the vegetable section, we went with oyster mushroom ravioli (£6.50) and the caramelised cauliflower (£5.50). The ravioli was an autumnal dream – delicate pieces of pasta filled with juicy mushrooms swam happily in a dashi broth with the welcome addition of mushroom ketchup and pickled shitakes. A slightly Asian dish, it was warm, inviting and most welcome. The cauliflower was cooked like a steak – accented with black garlic and hazelnuts, it was an innovative and exciting dish, whether you eat meat or not.
From the fish section, my friend opted for a pearl barley risotto with braised cuttlefish, hake, egg yolk and capers (£8.50). Fragrant and surprisingly light, the fish was cooked brilliantly, with the cuttlefish and hake offering juxtaposing textures that married beautifully. The egg yolk added richness, whilst the capers cut through with a salty tang: a triumph of a dish. Going down the meaty route, I chose the fried chicken thigh with kim-chi, peanut sambal and kale (£8.00). This was my personal highlight. The chicken cracked under a crispy, slightly spicy and oh-so-satisfying skin, combining wonderfully with the flavourful kim-chi and deeply savoury peanuts. I would come back here again just for this – it was that good.
We were, of course, swayed into having a dessert. I went with warm chocolate mousse, topped generously with rum fudge and a sprinkling of dark chocolate crumbs (£5.00). It was a real treasure – a grown up version of a childhood treat. My friend tried out the builder’s tea pannacotta with granola and raspberries (£5.50) and immediately fell in love. It was exactly like eating your favourite drink – bizarre in a way that’s difficult to explain, but absolutely delicious all the same.
Jamaica Street Stores is offering plentiful, interesting food that will see you coming back again and again for more. So get yourself down there and find out what everyone’s talking about – it’ll brighten even the darkest of days.
Jamaica Street Stores
Jamaica Street, Bristol
0117 924 9294