The Old Bookshop has an exciting new menu that you simply must try, writes Sammy Milton
On a blisteringly cold Wednesday night (winter really has seemed to arrive overnight), I found myself strolling up North Street towards the warm beacon that is The Old Bookshop. A Bristol institution for many years, it has become one of the friendliest locals in the city, and with their quirky décor, excellent live music and innovative food, it’s not hard to see why.
We were welcomed to try their new menu – and jumped at the chance. Pushing through the door, I was immediately enveloped into an atmosphere of warmth, laughter and fun. I always love coming here, and trying their new food was just an added bonus. Seated by the friendly staff, I happily accepted a drink whilst I waited for my friend to join me.
Once he had arrived and had a warming glass of red in hand, we took the chance to look over the menu. On offer is a range of small plates with another section of mains and sides to choose from and everything sounded very appetising. We opted to share some of the smaller plates to get a wider experience and chose a selection of four; Jerusalem artichokes with pistachios and Parmesan (£5.00), saffron and orange mussels (£6.00), grilled lamb chop with pearl barley and pomegranate (£7.00) and a baked Camembert with fried pickles to share (£11.00) – well, it would be rude not too, wouldn’t it?
Everything arrived pretty much all at once, which was both exhilarating and slightly panic-inducing – where should we start?! In the end we just dove into a little bit of everything. The mussels were cooked perfectly, and there was a very decent amount for both of us to share. The orange and saffron broth was both flavoursome and fragrant – the orange was slightly unusual but overall extremely pleasant, and was even nicer mopped up with the accompanying sourdough.
Moving over to the artichokes, we were completely surprised! I’ve never really been a fan, but these changed my mind. The tender artichokes were covered in melted Parmesan and fully benefited from the nuttiness of the pistachios. A winner of a dish. The lamb chop was slightly disappointing. Whilst it was cooked expertly, we had to really scrape to get much meat off the bone, but that is always a thing with lamb chops so it was immediately overlooked. The base of fluffy pearl barley and pomegranate was an absolute delight, however. Flavourful and light, it was a wonderfully autumnal dish.
Finally, the baked Camembert and fried pickles was a triumph. A huge round of cheese, it was delightfully gooey and was wonderful with the deep-fried pickles – their acidity cut through the richness of the cheese in a most pleasurable way.
The new menu was deemed a success by us – wide and varied enough for it to be exciting with a subtle undertone of comfort to keep drawing you back in.
Completely stuffed, we stayed awhile chatting and relaxing – this place really does have one of the most charming atmospheres in the city. The staff are wonderfully friendly, funny and helpful, always on hand to recommend a local beer or just to have a chat. Put quite simply, the Old Bookshop is a real Bristol gem – good food and good friends can always be found here.
The Old Bookshop
65 North Street, Bristol
0117 953 5222