Ate at a friend's recently with our usual motley crew. One of the topics of convo was where to take the parents on their next visit to Bristol. The parents like eating out. Probably not as much as me. Every time they venture down from the wilds of the north to the calm oasis of the west country, they require an evening's wining and dining in a 'never before visited' establishment. We have covered most of the city at this point so I was stuck for ideas.
Mr Clatworthy, (of the Clifton sausage and one of the motley crew) a person who knows his food and wine, recommended the Kensington Arms, a place I'm embarrassed to say I'd never heard of. Intrigued by this recommended and yet unknown prospect, we duly rocked up on Stanley Road in Redland. G noted he had in fact visited the place for drinks in his past life as a single man, when allowed to roam the streets on pub crawls with unsavoury types, probably on the search for women, pah.
My first impression was of a proper drinker's pub, also of on odd smell of boiled cabbage emenating from the kitchen. Not put off we wondered through to the restaurant and lo! a welcoming, perfectly lit, cosy dining room. The walls were interesting in a 'school GCSE end of term display' sort of way. I think it may have been a staff competition to cover the walls in half an hour. A still of Barbarella juxtaposed with a picture of an unfortunate pig's head and another of what appeared to be a young James May cradled by an old lady....Anyway on to the good stuff.
The wine list is huge, (probably why Mr Clatworthy gave the place the thumbs up) and the menu is concise and well priced with starters at the £6 mark and mains between £10 and £15. The tables and chairs are varied and rickety and are also different heights. We swapped chairs, then again and then finally moved to a less distressed table. There are cognac coloured sofas on one side of these tables but I was relegated to a chair (parent privileges.)
There was a cream of artichoke soup which the father shook his head at, declaring soup to be 'an absence of food' which I rather liked. He plumped for the Salmon fishcake, pickled cucumber salad and tartare sauce. G chose the Chicken liver parfait with red onion confit and toast. I opted for the Pea and leek tartlet with fresh pea and salsify salad and the Mother had the Marinated pork tenderloin which came with blue cheese, pear and pine nut salad. My tart arrived with cubes of beetroot, perky leaves and was creamy and crusty and good. G's toast was a tad charred (though the smell was a pleasant change from boiled cabbage.) He remarked that it was rare to be served enough toast to accommodate the pate and as quantity is always top of G's list of priorities, the dish was a hit. The parents both enjoyed their starters with the father proclaiming the fish cake to be 'better then The Swan in Bitton', (more of the Swan in next blog) which has the tastiest fish cakes I think I've ever eaten, apparently the Kensington Arms wins for it's salmon packed versions.
On to mains; Rump of lamb with boulangere potatoes and parsley pesto for the mother, Braised feather blade of beef and horseradish mash for G. The father and I both chose the Pan- seared sea bass, leek and potato puree and oven roasted shallots. My wedge of bass was perfectly sized, decorated with little baubles of onion and a pie of puree. I liked it a lot. All the other mains were equally well received.
Desserts and it was just G and I (always troopers on the dessert front) sharing the sticky toffee pudding. I always think a sticky toffee pudding shows the mettle of the restaurant though in this case it was the only let down of the meal. Quite small, not very sticky and a bit too dry. I'm making it sound worse than it was but if you compare it to the Clifton Sausage's version there is no competition.
My verdict: Overall one of the best meals I've had in Bristol for a good while. Nice atmosphere, lovely unpretentious, tasty food and a very friendly waitress who doesn't mind you swapping tables multiple times. My father tipped her handsomely which probably says more than this review.