Pasture offers an unforgettable dining experience combined with the best steak you’ll eat in Bristol – really, writes Sammy Milton
Steak. The height of luxury, the king of date night. The thing you crave and save for – without a doubt, one of the best things to go out to eat for. Because, let’s be honest, you can never do it quite right at home.
You don’t have to though, because thankfully, restaurants like Pasture exist. Located on Portwall Lane, in the place of the short-lived Bangkok Joes, the raucous, fun and thrilling two-storey dining space is run by chef/owner Sam Elliott. Elliott spent years working alongside Jamie Oliver as chef director, and opened Pasture at the end of February last year. Why has it taken us so long to get there? Well, following a spate of rave reviews from the Bristol Post and even Grace Dent of The Guardian (who doesn’t even really like meat), it proved a little tricky to get through the doors.
However, we got there in the end, so on an unseasonably wet and wild May evening, we pushed through the doors onto the large ground floor. Pleasingly open-plan, there’s space for live music, a long bar towards the back of the room and tables dotted about. On this particular evening, the atmosphere was already humming, with groups of people enjoying pre-dinner cocktails and post-work chats.
Upstairs then, to the main dining room. Light and airy, with an open kitchen to the back and huge art-deco windows to the front, it’s welcoming and friendly, and, of course, suitably loud. Chefs laugh and call to each other in the kitchen, whilst diners boom over bottles of wine and plates of meat. It’s great fun. We’re shown the huge meat fridges full of large cuts dry-aging over trays of Himalayan mountain salt and the billowing, smoky oven where the meat is cooked. It’s very impressive.
Seated at a booth in the window, we’re brought a little sharing platter to kick-off the meal. Short rib croquettes sitting in a generous smear of gochujang aioli and springy sourdough with smoked butter speckled with sea salt. The croquettes were deeply meaty and intense, and the butter light as a feather – so far, so great.
Starters came in the form of crispy fried chicken wings in a soy and bourbon glaze for myself, and a caramel pork belly with sticky barbeque sauce and pickles for my friend. Those chicken wings were the stuff of drunken dreams – sticky, meaty and addictive. These are no casual starter – they deserve their own spotlight. My friend’s pork belly was some of the finest I’ve tried too – all melting fat and tender meat.
Next up, a friendly waitress came to our table with a wooden board piled high with premium cuts of meat. Perhaps not one for vegan diners, she proceeded to explain each of the cuts to us – a chateaubriand, a tomahawk and a porterhouse. Designed for sharing, these mammoth pieces of meat were certainly impressive to look at, but as my friend and I have different tastes, we decided to order our own personal steaks. One to bear in mind for next time, though.
For my main I chose a rib-eye steak done medium rare, as recommended, whilst my dining partner went with the leaner fillet steak, cooked to medium. Tom, our exceptional personal waiter for the evening, suggested we ordered some sides to go along with these, so we did just that – dripping chips, spinach gratin, seasonal greens and a Caesar salad.
Our meal arrived a short time later and we had to play Jenga to fit it on the table – we feared we might have over-ordered. However, everything was so faultless, we couldn’t have cared less. My steak was sublime – juicy and pink, with a thick streak of marbled fat running throughout. Intensely beefy, I have to put my hands up and admit that this was the best steak I’ve had in Bristol. The chefs really know what they’re doing here, and the quality of the meat was apparent with every mouthful. My friend quite agreed, and polished off her plate in record time whilst mopping up her creamy mushroom sauce with the dripping chips.
These were excellent, by the way, as were the seasonal greens that were slick with olive oil and the incredibly fresh Caesar salad that was flecked with rich gouda cheese and topped with whole fillets of anchovies. The real star, though, was the spinach gratin. A bubbling concoction of creamy spinach mixed with leeks and cheese, it was unbelievably rich and incredibly satisfying.
Somehow, we managed dessert (although by this point, we did have to share). Out came a chocolate dome, encasing a chocolate brownie and a hazelnut shortbread, alongside a scoop of white chocolate ice cream. A jar of hot caramel sauce is poured over the dome to reveal the treats inside, and everything on the plate was perfect. You can have too much of a good thing though, and despite the reasonable portion size, we admitted defeat.
If you’re looking for a truly special and completely unforgettable meal, book Pasture pronto. It’s rare to not find a single fault in a whole meal, but this place really does tick all the boxes. The staff are fun and friendly, the atmosphere exciting and the food is so good you’ll be talking about it for weeks afterwards.
2 Portwall Lane