After something a little fancy? Wellbourne knows what's what, writes Sammy Milton
Clifton Village has become quite the location for food lovers in recent months. You’ve got Bristol institution Fishers just on the high street, and the famous Ivy Brasserie on the corner of The Mall – both offering wonderful dining experiences for all to enjoy. New kid on the block Wellbourne opened its doors just a couple of months ago and has seen a steady stream of good reviews and smiling faces ever since.
Seated with a glass of complimentary fizz, we spoke at length with supervisor Matt about the menu and what wines we should try. A former sommelier, he seriously knows his stuff, and we felt very looked after. To kick off, we simply had to try some of their famous vol au vents. We went for all three; the veal with Fosee Way Fleece and chervil was rich and buttery, whilst shrimps with smoked paprika and rapeseed mayonnaise was zingy and fresh. Best of all was creamed girolles with garlic and thyme – light and decadent all at once, and a steal with the entire lot weighing in at £6.
The menu at Wellbourne is particularly pretty. Not too big, it features dishes sustainably sourced from local suppliers and has a ‘fine dining’ feel to it without being pretentious. After our vol au vents, we chose a couple of starters to share; spatchcock quail with ox-eye daisy, radish and gold raisins (£9.00) and the rather exciting-sounding South Coast crab with charred lettuce, peanuts and tagetes (£9.00).
The quail arrived on a crunchy bed of white radishes that added just the right amount of acidity to counteract the floral flavours of the daisy. The quail itself was excellent; cooked well and extremely appetising, it made for a very seasonal dish. The crab was a real work of art – laid playfully across a boat of charred lettuce, the meat was delicate and delicious, topped with crunchy peanuts and colourful, edible flowers. So far, so good.
For mains we opted for duck with sour cherries and sea beet (£18.00) and veal with onions, mustard leaf and rapeseed dressing (£18.00). Although the prices are a little high, I really couldn’t argue with the portion size – this was the biggest serving of duck I’d ever seen! Cooked to pink perfection, the meat was sweet and contrasted beautifully with the cherries. The sea beet was a wonderful accompaniment, as was the slither of crispy duck skin – a pure delight. The veal was cooked beautifully, and was a potent reminder that when done well, this is one of the best meats to eat. The onions and mustard leaf were fantastically fresh and the dressing was the sort of thing you’d happily lap up.
Dessert came in the form of a slow-cooked chocolate fondant (£7.50) and a sea buckthorn curd with meringue and marjoram (£7.50). The fondant was a glistening disk of dark chocolate heaven, rich but carried beautifully by the accompanying Arbequina olive oil. The sea buckthorn was unlike anything we’d seen before – a meringue filled with the most magical substance; light and unique. Brilliant.
The food at Wellbourne is both clever and playful – come braced for the unexpected, safe in the knowledge that you’ll leave extremely satisfied.
25 The Mall, Clifton, Bristol BS8 4JG