Amble down Whiteladies Road and round into Cotham Hill, and you pass more good places to eat than grace some whole cities. The lovely Bellita has been featured on this blog recently but grabbing headlines since it opened last year, has been Pasta Loco, which makes me overdue a visit.
There’s no dreaded kids’ menu: they just ask you what you like and it’s a matter of moments to produce a plate of spaghetti to delight a four year old (and her parents). It’s lovely stuff- buttery, cheesy, comforting. Freshly made, of course. (Treating young diners as actual diners with their own discernment? An outrageous idea; it’ll never catch on…)
On a Friday lunchtime, its full. Despite the staff being at capacity, they are charm personified.
Two courses for £12.50, three for £15: it would be rude not to. The home-cured duck bresaola is tangily meaty and with just the right amount of melting fat. Team it with bitter leaves and slices of soft sweet peach and you have a substantial flavours on a small plate.
The ‘punching above its weight’ impression is confirmed by salmon fishcakes, which feel far more luxurious than they have any right to be. Herby and smoky, they need only a spritz of lime to make them sing.
Spinach and ricotta is a classy combination, here in gnudi (dumplings) and a pesto made with radicchio which balances its slight bitterness against a rich tomato sauce.
Cream, shallots, mussels, samphire: the orzo is a bowl with crunch and salty snap and luxurious creaminess. Pasta purists may quibble about it being called orzo- these shapes are probably closer to quadretti- but this is mere pettifoggery. This is a big bowl of right: of comfort, of the samphire’s briny bite, the sweet little mussels served in their shells- makes for a messy, fun, lunch which feels suitably decadent without ever feeling too heavy.
Dessert swings for the fences and impresses. Bitter dark chocolate, salted caramel: it’s a voluptuous thing, a siren call for the waistline. But hell, this is no time to be worrying about such footling details.
Pasta Loco is a belter. The menu isn’t afraid to step away from the safe classics and experiment, but never loses sight of the prime importance of fantastic pasta. It put me very much in mind of Borough Market’s Padella, which is high praise indeed: yet again, Bristol has a restaurant which deserves any bit of love which comes its way.
37A Cotham Hill
0117 973 3000
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.