Earlier this week, I ventured further afield and had dinner with a friend in Bristol (which is not really that far afield, as I actually venture there every day for work, but rarely to dine), which made a nice change.
We chose the Firehouse Rotisserie on Bristol’s fashionable and busy Harbourside. It’s an independent restaurant with a sister venue in Bath. I’d had a look at the menu online beforehand (on recommendation of my friend – who until we sat down didn’t realise I was a food blogger and then began to feel the pressure!) and the selection of dishes, many with a Mexican or Asian influence, plus stone-baked pizzas, again with a strong theme of spice and chilli, rather than a more traditional Italian flavour, certainly appealed.
We started our meal by sharing a goat’s cheese fondue, which came with pine nuts, red pesto and chilli. I had high hopes for the dish as it sounded delicious, but had a bit of doubt at the back of my mind as goat’s cheese is not known for its melting quality, and can be a bit cloying if there’s too much of it and it hasn’t melted evenly. Happily, the magic melting formula had obviously been applied here, and we enjoyed the deliciously soft goat’s cheese, baked in a ceramic dish, with some lovely toppings that balanced its potential sharpness and strong flavour perfectly. It was served with some tortilla chips that seemed homemade, rather than out of a bag, which is always pleasing, and it was beautifully presented. The quantity was just right for two to share as a starter – I think for me at least, it would have been too much cheese for one person, but if you really loved goat’s cheese then it could be your ideal dish!
After taking indecisiveness to new levels (not helped by too much chatting and not enough focusing on the menu!), we also settled on a main course. At first, we erred towards the pizza option, having seen one on a neighbouring table that looked very nice indeed, but none of the topping combinations were quite hitting the mark for me, with a heavy focus on chicken (not a marriage made in heaven with pizza as far as I am concerned) and chilli flavours, which again are not a big favourite of mine.
The rest of the selection of main dishes was really tempting, with unusual side dishes, innovative sauces and ways of cooking, rather than bog standard accompaniments that would make you feel like you could be in any of a multitude of chain restaurants. All the dishes were all beautifully described in such a way that made our mouths water, and ranged from around £13.50 up to £19.50 for a rib-eye steak. We looked at the rotisserie chicken options, particularly one with lemon, which sounded tempting, but didn’t make the grade in the end.
Eventually, I opted for honey barbecue confit duck, served with Applewood mash and green beans. This was an excellent choice, with a rich, sweet, thick sauce – and plenty of it, a perfect crispy skin on the duck covering moist, succulent flesh, and just the right amount of creamy mash (although I couldn’t taste the Applewood, which was the only disappointment).
My friend chose maple glazed pork loin, which came with cabbage and apple coleslaw and sweet potato cakes, and had been high on my list of potential choices too. Again, this went down really well, and as with my dish, the accompaniments and sauce were as much of a draw as the meat itself. I’d consider having it if I ate there again. Our mains were £13.50 and £14.50 respectively, and this seemed more than reasonable as they were generous (but not obscene) portions.
All of the pudding options looked tasty, although everything on offer was either very rich or/and chocolatey, so we decided against indulging further, even though I am sure they would have been very good (although at £5.50 each they were not cheap in comparison to the mains).
Unusually, the Firehouse Rotisserie serves several of the house wines in a carafe, and we sampled the Sauvignon Blanc, which was £10.25 for a 50cl carafe. This was very pleasant, and very welcome after a day at work!
The service was friendly and efficient, and they were very accommodating of our indecisiveness, offering to order our starter for us whilst we continued to um and ah over the main courses.
I really enjoyed the Firehouse Rotisserie as a venue for a relaxed, early evening dinner. It had a distinct ‘wine bar’ feel about it – with wood floors, candlelight and high ceilings. It wasn’t particularly busy when we visited, but I can imagine it having a nice buzz at weekends or on a Friday night after work. My only complaint about the ambience was decidedly odd toilets, which were outside the main entrance to the venue, and with an eye watering white and emerald green theme, together with very clinical fixtures and fittings, felt more like they should be in a hospital than a restaurant. It didn’t spoil the evening, but was not in keeping with the rest of the experience at all, which was a shame.
Recommended – but not the toilets!
Food: **** Service: *** Ambience: ***
Firehouse Rotisserie, Anchor Square, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5DB