So after a break, we are back- for a blogger who doesn’t blog is of scant use to anyone- with ‘simple but interesting food’ from Root at Wapping Wharf.
It’s a ‘small plates which appear as and when’ deal here, in this renovated shipping container on the upper level of the box park on Bristol Harbourside. Some may find this style irksome, but on a lazy Saturday overlooking the Harbourside, it’s quite the opposite.
Quality is in its DNA, with chef Rob Howells (formerly of Edinburgh’s Ondine) and his front of house staff until recently at Josh Eggleton’s stellar Pony & Trap.
Until recently this space specialised in free range fried chicken but that’s long gone now, with the corrugated egg box effect cladding the counter the sole reminder. The usual order is inverted at Root, with the majority of dishes being meat free and only a few fleshy options up for grabs. The ‘specials’ menu is as long as the regular, and boxes of freshly delivered veg line window sills.
Cornish oysters from Porthilly are always a must and these are beautiful. Plump, sparklingly fresh, assertively briny, with a choice of accompaniments (lemon, tabasco) and an excellent mignonette. As a late breakfast, they slip down an absolute treat.
Beetroot with hazelnuts and blackberries is imaginatively presented : it’s a witty visual pun on a beef tartare. It’s sweet, it’s earthy, it’s beautiful.
It’s a lovely thing to unpick, to see the layers of deft assemblage in this one plate.
There’s a crumbed fillet of lemon sole with a mild tartare sauce which eases off on the acidity to let the sweetness of the crushed peas come through.
The scotch egg is a revelation. It’s swerved with a blob of their own brown sauce, which deftly nails that tart tamarind tang, and the yolk is molten gold.
It’s all the more impressive (to this carnivore, anyway) when examined more closely; the typical pork ‘body’ is substituted in favour of a mushroom and lentil paste. It’s so good it challenges you to recalibrate your future expectations: future scotch eggs are going to have to do some heavy lifting to top this.
There’s a plate of tomatoes from the Isle of Wight, with Somerset cucumber and a locally produced ewe’s curd whipped through with Bath rapeseed oil. It’s all robustly fresh, simple and delicious.
48 hours’ worth of brining and overnight cooking and pressing means a piece of pork jowl is perched on that cusp of seductively wobbly and crisp. It’s devastatingly simple, and speaks of time taken and care lavished. It’s obscenely good.
Milk and Cookies sits ice cream in between chocolate chip biscuits, both with a little chew. It’s tasty enough, but perhaps even better if the cookies were warm: which is as close to finding an obvious ‘fault’ as I can get at this place.
If all meat-free cooking was as pretty, inventive and downright perky as the dishes at Root, I daresay there would be a fundamental change in the way many of us eat. It’s a happy collision of vision, produce and setting, and it’s all rather lovely.
This is memorable stuff and wholly worthy of your time and money.
Gaol Ferry Steps,
0117 930 0260
Monday and Tuesday, 5.30pm to 9.30pm;
Wednesday to Saturday, 12pm to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 9.30pm;
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.