The River Grille at The Bristol Hotel is far more than just another hotel restaurant, says Emma Dance
Hotel restaurants often get a bad rap – and often it’s deserved.
But that’s definitely not the case for the River Grille at The Bristol hotel. For a start, it doesn’t even feel like a hotel restaurant. While you can access it via the hotel, it’s got its own entrance on Narrow Quay giving it the feel of a standalone venue rather than simply an extension of somewhere else. And the location right on the harbourside must be one of the best in the city.
We were lucky enough to be given one of the best spots at a table right next to the floor-to-ceiling windows giving us a great view of the water. And as the sun set we could watch the crowds of commuters give way to the Friday-night revellers and see the harbourside illuminated by the bright lights of the bars and restaurants across the way.
I was very impressed with the dinner menu which was full of classic combinations with occasional twists or special touches to make the dishes just that bit more special.
While we waited we were given a selection of homemade breads (the Guinness bread was particularly delicious) and a surprise treat of a creamy and comforting cauliflower velouté.
I’d ordered the Atlantic deep-sea scallops, cauliflower purée, truffle (£9) to start, and even before the plate had reached the table I was hit by the heady aroma of the truffle. The scallops were perfectly cooked – golden on the outside and soft and sweet inside, the puree was smooth and velvety and the truffles added a real sense of luxury. Husband’s Somerset goat’s cheese and butternut squash tart (£6) was a perfect combination of sweet squash and salty cheese encased in crisp pastry.
My main course, a recommendation from our charming waiter, was a rump of Nailsea lamb with colcannon, kale and rosemary jus (£18). I could have taken the lamb a little pinker, but it was nonetheless very tender and the colcannon was well seasoned and very more-ish. Husband went for the lemon sole, samphire, brown shrimp and caper butter (£19) with a side of French fries (£3) and was delighted with his choice. The fish was soft and perfectly cooked while the brown shrimp and caper butter and samphire provided a lovely natural saltiness and a real taste of the sea.
I’m a sucker for a chocolate dessert and was instantly drawn to the chocolate fondant and Bailey’s ice cream (£6). It certainly did not disappoint. When I broke through the soft casing there was a cascade of rich, warm sauce, which was just heavenly when combined with the ice cream. Husband’s coconut and passionfruit pannacotta (£5) was ridiculously pretty and tasted just as good as it looked with the fresh, tropical flavours evoking the spirit of summer.
Service throughout the evening was faultless. The staff were attentive but never annoying and seemed genuinely knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what they were serving. This coupled with the excellent food and unrivalled location made the whole evening the River Grille absolute pleasure. We’ll definitely be returning!
The River Grille at The Bristol
Bristol BS1 4QF
0117 923 0333