Bulrush, a long distance love affair, restaurant review, Bristol

Last weekend, I stayed with A and M. We spent Saturday in our Pjs eating sourdough toast, watching Saturday Kitchen and, at some point, we opened the Prosecco. Eventually, we showered and got dressed because we had a reservation at Bulrush. I had been excited about this for months. 
Bulrush is hidden in Cotham, terribly unassuming, you could easily wander past it. Spread over two floors, we ate downstairs. Last time A had been there, he’d been upstairs and felt a bit out of the action, but then he is awfully needy! 

In the last two years, Bulrush has made a serious mark and not just in the Bristol restaurant scene. Chef George Livesey honed his skills at the likes of St. John’s and Roux at Parliament Square. It was in London he met his partner, Katherine Craughwell, who runs the friendly and relaxed front of house and wine list. 

We opted for the tasting menu, at £48 it’s incredible value.

We started with an amuse bouche of the lightest broccoli mousse atop a port and cider vinegar reduction. The contrast in flavours was like night and day, sharp and soft, intense and light.

Alongside this, were tiny crackers made from Guinness porridge, yes, that’s right, topped with crème fraiche, miso and Parmesan. Simply put, this was like eating a little piece of heaven. The malty, yeasty crackers, the rich creamy top, I could go on, but I shan’t; I have six pages of notes and you’ll lose the will to live or, better still, head to the station and book a ticket to Bristol.

Our first course was Dorset oysters, with a lemon granita. Rich, clean, sweet, although the lemon was lost. To contrast this was a dainty macaron, sandwiched with rich duck liver parfait. Magical.
Montgomery custard was sensational, rich and unctuous. The pickled heritage carrots sharp and sweet. 

Bread and live butter, deserves a mention because A and I live for bread and butter, and because it is worthy of a mention. 

Blowtorched sole was bathed in green pepper, cucumber and celery gazpacho, so fresh it felt virtuous. The balance of flavours in perfect harmony.

So simple, yet a stand out for me, was dill junket(cream cheese), English peas and turnip ice. Every mouthful was a taste of summer.

At £5, we added the raw scallop, rose and kohlrabi. And, god, am I glad we did. It was stunning. On the shell reindeer moss, topped with dehydrated scallop roe powder, was sweet, smokey and crispy. The BBQ kohlrabi and fragrant fermented rose petals partnered with the sweet, meaty scallop like old lovers. A remarkable dish, worth the train journey alone.

Crab, pickled peach and radish was yet another tribute to the British summer. The bisque intense, the crab delicate. Adorned with tiny pansy flowers, it was picture perfect.

Next, a surprise dish of pig’s trotter, stuffed with smoked eel in an apple dashi broth. The flavours, overall, were delicious, sweet from the apple and salty dashi. For me, just too gelatinous but as a trotter should be.

Service throughout was warm and personable. The staff know the menu and are happy to answer questions and find answers if they don’t know.
Gloucester old spot pork was served with a rosemary purée which I found overpowering. The soft, fluffy bun was dusted with smoked heart, a brilliant addition. Nasturtium leaves hinted at bitterness, cutting through the richness of everything else on the plate. Oh, and the crackling, perfection. 

Our first dessert was trifle-like, something A and I shared our lack of love for earlier that day. But this was something different altogether. A base of rich frangipane, covered in a sharp, lemon sorbet then topped with a fragrant pine mousse. Like a walk bare footed on a bed of soft pine needles in a sun dappled forest. Sweet toasted almonds only adding to the fanfare in my mouth.

We finished with BBQ apricot, apricot stone ice cream and rosemary meringue. The apricot was good but the skin wasn’t. The ice cream was excellent, rich and nutty. The rosemary meringue was just more rosemary than I needed in one meal.

The bill for three of us with three excellent bottles of wine, three glasses of dessert wine and service was £320. Like all meals, the price rises swiftly when you add alcohol or, maybe, when we are added to alcohol! 

It’s fair to say I fell a little bit more in love with Bristol, but it’ll have to be a long distance affair which is good for my waistline and my wallet.

Highly, highly recommended and worth a trip to Bristol. I’m already planning my next visit. 

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