Redland's much-loved pub gets a Michelin-style make-over, and locals are lapping it up, writes Sammy Milton
The Kensington Arms has become something of a Bristol institution over the past few years. Having long since been a favourite with the locals, it is affectionately known as ‘The Kenny’, and has undergone some pretty big changes since its last refurbishment. With none other than the Michelin-starred Josh Eggleton at the helm, this place aims to please.
The outside is painted a stylish black, and features rows of cosy wooden benches that simply beckon you to grab a nice cold pint from inside and sit out in the spring sunshine. Which is exactly what we did upon our arrival. The inside is gorgeous – simple, yet elegant, with a proper bar – none of this closed-into-a-corner business.
The dining room is cavernous yet cosy, with an eccentric range of copper pans, historic portraits and knick-knacks adorning the walls. The kitchen is towards the rear of the room and is left open, so diners can watch the chefs hard at work and gawp at the delicious offerings of food being placed on the pass.
The service was excellent — the waiting staff were efficient, friendly and happy to answer any questions we had. That said, we couldn’t help but notice that this place was busy. This was merely an observation, but offered an explanation to why things seemed ever-so-slightly rushed.
To start us off, we ordered crispy chilli squid (£5.00) from the ‘nibbles’ menu.
Arriving on a bed of fresh coriander and spring onion and accompanied by a roasted lemon and chilli mayonnaise, it was perfect. Rich without being too greasy, it was fantastically seasoned and the condiment offered an exciting tang. So far so good.
Our starters comprised the fishcakes (£6.00) served with warm tartare sauce, and the oxtail (£6.00) with braised onions and a mini Yorkshire pudding – a take on a French onion soup. The fishcakes were battered so lightly and delicately, allowing the deep flavours of the fish to really shine. The tartare sauce was rich and incredibly reassuring, the perfect bath for these beauties to bathe in. I could honestly rant on about the oxtail forever, it was that good. Meat so tender it practically dissolved in my mouth, mixed beautifully with the onions whilst the flavours of French home-cooking pushed through. And there’s a Yorkshire pudding. I could quite happily eat this forever.
The mains, however, were a little disappointing. Continuing on my meat quest, I went for the onglet (£16.00), which came with roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, chips and peppercorn sauce. My onglet was slightly overcooked, bringing with it the chewy mouth feel you so desperately do not want with steak. Still very tasty, I prevailed and finished my plate, so I can’t really complain. My partner opted for ham egg and chips (£10.00). Whilst being a very reasonably priced plate of food, the ham was incredibly salty, and the plating seemed rather haphazard. However, like I mentioned before, it was a Saturday and it was very busy, so I feel this can be forgiven easily.
They have a tantalising range of desserts. Childhood classics such as sticky toffee pudding and treacle tart meet more up-market treats such as chocolate torte and orange pannacotta.
All in all, we had a great evening. And as for the mains, I’m sure it was simply a question of too many people, not enough time. I’ll happily come back soon to find out.
The Kensington Arms
Redland Bristol BS6 6NP
0117 944 6444