The Cauldron offers hearty dishes to keep you cosy in this chilly weather, writes Sammy Milton
Wth the weather taking a turn for the even colder, where better to eat than a restaurant that solely cooks all of its food over hot coals and wood fires? The Cauldron in St Werburghs is the UK’s first solid-fuelled kitchen in over 100 years and has built up quite the reputation across the city thanks to its sustainable food and use of local produce.
We arrived on a freezing Tuesday night into the bustling heat of the restaurant. There were plenty of diners already seated and many were quite clearly locals – happy chatter filled the room, along with some tantalising aromas coming from the open kitchen towards the back.
We were seated and immediately offered a cocktail list. Well, why not? We ordered and then spent far too long going over the main menu. The Cauldron offers a short but exciting food menu, full of meals created from local produce (a lot within walking distance, our waiter explained) and vast variety of dishes. Even more impressively, pretty much everything is created and cooked in-house, right down to mayonnaise and pickles.
To start with, I chose a bowl of the sweet potato gnocchi with smoked sage and walnut butter (£6.00), whilst my dining companion went in a slightly more Asian direction – brown miso poached skate wing with pak choi and chilli (£7.00). Starters arrived quickly, and were immensely enjoyed. The gnocchi were a comforting bowl of winter loveliness. Cooked to perfection, they were soft, nutty and delicate, with the smoked sage offsetting the sweetness of the potato beautifully. I would come back here and eat this again and again. It was that good. The poached skate wing offered a refreshing take on a winter warmer – the miso broth was deep and flavoursome and the fish so well-cooked it fell away from the bone.
For our mains we opted for a wood fired fish pie with leek, thyme, white wine and samphire (£13.00) and a hearty Gloucester Old Spot pork cheeseburger with proper chips (£12.50). The fish pie was as comforting as it should be, full of pieces of fish (no meagre portions here) and was most welcomed on a chilly evening. A delightful dish. The pork cheeseburger was a real treat. Two patties smothered in cheese were packed into a homemade salted pretzel bun with all the trimmings – I may have had to deconstruct it to eat it, but that made the whole experience far more enjoyable. The chips were a revelation – crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and all the more delicious when smothered in homemade ketchup.
To finish off what had already been a fantastic meal, we decided to share some of the hand-rolled truffles, blended with soya milk, fine cocoa powder, fruits and nuts and smoked salt (£5.00), paired with two Burrow Hill ice ciders (£5.00). The truffles were the perfect way to end the evening – tart, rich and oh-so delicious, each was its own masterpiece. The ice ciders were incredible too – a small measure of deeply appley cider in each, cooled to a chill with a single ice cube. Perfect.
For such a moderately-sized, quietly unassuming restaurant, The Cauldron really is something special. The staff are fun and friendly, the atmosphere is buzzy and exciting and the food really is something else. Come along and see for yourself.
98 Mina Road, Bristol BS2 9XW
0117 914 1321