Month: November 2010

Carluccio’s

This week my friend and I visited Carluccio’s at Quaker’s Friars in Bristol.

We’d been a couple of times in the summer as it is lovely to sit outside in the square basking in the sunshine and watching the world go by. It gets very busy at lunchtime so we decided to book a table (inside this time naturally, given the inclement weather of late) we requested a booth as they are more comfortable and, from which, one can see the whole bustling room.

The waiting staff and management were welcoming, charming and knowledgeable, always a good start. My friend and I were nattering away for quite a while before we ordered but we weren’t hassled; they were attentive but not over-bearing. (I’m not sure about being called ‘baby’ though, a little patronising, although I’m sure he was just trying to be friendly.)

Eventually, we ordered Osso buco alla Milanese £13.95 (braised shin of veal with tomato sauce, served with a creamy saffron risotto) and Penne Giardiniera £7.95 (large Penne with courgette, chilli, and deep-fried spinach balls with Parmesan and garlic) from the extensive menu of Italian classics.  Carluccios_Autumn_Menu_2010_2.pdf

The food came out reasonably quickly but as my friend and I were chatting we didn’t notice the wait. The pasta dish was huge, colourful and smelled satisfyingly garlicy. The osso buco in comparison looked a bit on the mean side with the unnecessary parsley leaf lying on top. As the name suggests (osso buco meaning ‘hollow bone’), it came complete with soft and rich bone marrow, which was delicious, almost to the point of being orgasmic, and the meat was tender, how it should be. I’m not sure about the inclusion of so many tomatoes in the sauce, a controversial subject, I personally feel they slightly overpower the delicate flavours in the dish. The risotto was smooth and creamy with a subtle saffron flavour and colour. Both could have done with a little more salt, in my opinion. The pasta dish was simple but packed with flavour. The finely chopped chilli gave a little kick without being too hot, there was a lot of garlic (which I love), and the spinach balls were a crispy contrast to the soft, buttery grated courgette. The waiter sprinkled freshly-grated Parmesan and freshly-ground black pepper to taste, (whilst calling me ‘baby’ again!).

My friend then ordered a lemon tart and a coffee. She is quite a coffee enthusiast (I am not) and assured me that they make a good one. I tasted the lemon tart (purely for research as I was full) and found that it was adequate; tangy filling with a silky texture but the pastry was just fine, not exemplary (I had the feeling it wasn’t homemade, sorry if I’m wrong). A refreshing end to the meal nonetheless.

In summary; a friendly, relaxed environment for a good value, well-cooked, tasty lunch. I will definately return (if they’ll have me!).

See http://www.carluccios.com/caffes/bristol-quakers-friars for contact/booking info, Christmas menu and opening times.

They also have a varied deli section and sell Italian foodie gifts.

10% off all Christmas products on Thursday 2nd and Thursday 9th December from 6pm-9pm.

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St. Werburghs City Farm Cafe

I was first taken to the City Farm a couple of years ago by my boyfriend who decided I needed to get out of the kitchen once in a while. I was hooked. I find it very peaceful, a little haven where you can pretend you’re in the countryside while you’re in the city. The farm and cafe are in a small valley surrounded by a nature reserve, allotments and houses. There are friendly pigs, goats, sheep and chickens etc. to meet, a play area for the kiddies and a quirky cafe. The cafe building was designed to resemble a tree, or tree house, it’s surreal, Dali/Gaudi-esque like it grew up from out of the ground. It over-looks the play area and is child-friendly.

Many of the ingredients used are organic, fair-trade, wild and local, including eggs, meat, vegetables and salad from St Werburghs City Farm. Even the plates and mugs are made at the St. Werburghs pottery www.stwerburghspottery.co.uk.

The menu includes breakfast classics, burgers, and specials such as spicy pork burrito with rice at £7.50. I had a smoked haddock chowder from the lunch menu at £6.50, including bread. It was hearty and flavourful with big flakes of haddock and chunks of potato. Not too heavy or creamy but warming and filling. My only criticism would be that I found a few bones and it was a little over-seasoned for my taste.

I will keep coming back, they do a cracking hot chocolate and have a selection of home- made cakes which is just the thing you need to warm the cockles on a grim winter’s day, after walking the dog or visiting the piglets.

The cafe is open 6 days a week, 10am – 4pm Winter, and 10am – 5pm Summer (closed Tuesdays) http://www.swcityfarm.org.uk.

They are also doing a Tasty Tales Dinner on Saturday 27th November, 5 courses for £25 with (homemade) drinks and tales. Pop in to the cafe to book or email cityfarmcafe@yahoo.co.uk.


About me

I’ve spent 16 years as a professional chef, mostly in Bristol, including 5 years at Hotel du Vin, where I rose to sous chef/head pastry chef, and then head chef at the H bar & bistro at Colston Hall. I set up my own small catering business in 2010; working freelance, running cookery workshops, private events and Bishopston Supper Club.

I am a committee member of the Gloucester Road Women’s Institute, we are currently working on a community cookbook, due to be launched in October, to raise money for the Survive charity.

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