Thanks to the person who suggested Riverstation to me on this board a few weeks ago. Turns out my mum had been there a couple of times already, but had only eaten in the cafe, not the restaurant. So we decided to do lunch and try it out.
(skip to the link at the bottom if you would like to read the same report with lots of pictures)
Riverstation The Grove Bristol, BS1 4RB Telephone: +44(0)117 914 4434
After visiting the Bristol Farmer's Market the week before last, my mother and I decided to play at being ladies who lunch. Our chosen destination was Bristol's Riverstation restaurant, built in the disbanded Headquarters of the local Harbourside police. The restaurant, as you might expect from its name, looks over the water. The stylish interior is modern and sleek with great natural lighting.
Riverstation's lunchtime menu offered a fantastic deal. A 3-course set meal for just £13.75 with three options for each course.
Smoked haddock brandade, crostini + capers
This British twist on the salt-cod dish was stunning in its simplicity. A delicate puree of potato, a little garlic, cream, seasoning and smoked haddock was served with olive-oil dribbled toast and salty capers. Smoked haddock is not readily available in California. It's absence makes me crave it more than I should. I have two finnan haddie fillets in my freezer, left over from a shipment I received last year and I hope to try and recreate this dish with it, at home, soon.
Chicken Liver Parfait, Red Onion Jam and Warm Toast
This was a very generous portion, of smooth, rich, creamy pate with a sweet onion jam.
Roast cod with "minestrone" of arrocina beans + pesto
I am aware of the fact I probably shouldn't eat cod. In the US I actually don't eat it - like the haddock, it's not easy to come by on the West coast. This fillet was moist and flakey. The cod had been roasted with its skin intact, a crispy, fatty flavour not dissimilar to chicken skin that contrasted with the mild, white, flaky flesh of the fish. The vivid pesto was thick and pungent with garlic. In another contrast to the perfect fish, the bed of too-hard beans with their thin, bland tomato sauce were disappointing.
Coq au Vin with button mushrooms and New potatoes
The meat itself (I suspect they had used chicken, not cock) was wonderfully succulent and its yellow appearance suggested it had probably been corn-fed. The vegetables were at the right level of al dente. Despite competence in the cooking of the ingredients, this dish failed - it was totally plain and uninteresting, bearing no evidence of the au vin after which it was christened. My mother quipped "I am not sure that this chicken has even looked at a bottle of wine"
Chocolate st emilion with raspberry sauce
A thick, dense slice of chocolate deliciousness, dotted with patches of softened amoretti cookies and surrounded by a deep red, tart raspberry sauce. The kind waitress, at my gluttonous request, arranged for a large dollop of clotted cream to be added to the dessert for me. The cream was a sinful but sublime extra treat. Fresh clotted cream, with its high fat content and crunchy, knobbly bits of buttery yumminess is another one of those things that I have to live without in San Francisco. This makes it all the more special on those rare occasions I do get to indulge in a little of it.
Vanilla panacotta with Illy liqueur + sable biscuit
This was a fine dessert. Rich and creamy, vanilla-scented and dribbled with alcoholic coffee. The little biscuits on the side were sweet, dense and buttery.
Despite the couple of criticisms, overall this lunch was exceptionally well priced with an interesting menu. I was particularly impressed with the quality of the ingredients. It will be near the top of my list of places to revisit next time I am in Bristol.