I do enjoy a good food-related pun. Canton’s ‘The Codfather’ chippy. Karl’s Burgers, just off Ocean Way, and their nod to a certain Danish lager’s telltale font. And you’d have to have a heart of stone to ignore the brilliance of Bristolian mobile kebab outlet Jason Donervan.
Which brings us to The Meating Place. This is a prime site for that crucial footfall traffic on St Mary Street, rubbing shoulders with The Grazing Shed and Pieminister. There’s no cigar for guessing what the priorities are on this menu- although you can order a cigar to luxuriate in that post meat-and-red-wine satiety.
Dark, rough-hewn timbers are weathered by age: it’s an immediately homely place, lit by candles for a relaxed and relaxed atmosphere. We try a couple of bottled pale ales while we choose: we are in the mood for meat but not necessarily steak, although the range of cuts here is extremely tempting. A superhuman effort prevents us ordering the Chateaubriand.
To start, pork fritters deliver a hearty dose of pigginess, the shredded meat coated and crisp. Hard boiled quail eggs are a delicate touch and piccalilli is a hint of complementary acidity rather than the usual size 11 Doc Martens boot subtlety.
Plump scallops, teamed with brittle crisped whisper-thin prosciutto, come with a rich daub of butternut squash purée. The shellfish has that lovely fresh smack of the sea about it: the saltiness of the ham, sweetness of the scallop and the squash combine in an impressive starter, elegantly presented.
A double short rib of beef is a sumptuous thing: the meat has been slowly braised until it comes apart with a nudge from your fork.
Taken on its own, the luscious fattiness of this cut could become too much, too heavy: so the slather of barbecue sauce and the red chilli and shredded apple coleslaw (an unfamiliar but lovely thing, this) balance all that richness of the ribs. It’s still a lot to get through, even for a trencherman like my dining companion, a man with an almost forensic ability to detect any greenery on his plate, and the surgical skills to remove it.
The star of the show? The skewers. In the interest of coverage and exploration your humble correspondent tried both the lamb and the beef.
I live to serve.
It’s a polished dish, despite its rustic appearance: staggeringly simple in preparation and execution, yet patently easy to ruin without due skill and care. They hang suspended above you, close cousines of the Portuguese espetada; you tug down each piece as required. Apparently this is the house speciality, and highly recommended it is, too, both benefiting from some serious attention from their marinades. The beef has made firm friends with garlic, coriander and curry for tenderness with a bite; lemon, garlic and mixed herbs ensure the lamb is immediate memorable. It’s ably complimented by a Gran Dominio Crianza Rioja.
Frankie Goes To Hollywood (check me and my up-to-date pop culture references, kids!) might have promised to ‘protect you from the Hooded Claw… keep the vampire from your door’ but one whiff of the aioli provided would have done the same. It’s powerful, pungent stuff- and all the better for it.
Chips- and I’ve had some let downs recently from kitchens which should know far better- are excellent, and remind you how good the simple potato can be when given a bit of love and care in hot oil. There’s something awfully attractive about the irregularity of hand-cut chips, the rustle and crunch of a new batch, and The Meating Place does not disappoint.
Dessert is almost a bridge too far: portion sizes here are generous, and we have eaten well. A bread and butter pudding with a white chocolate sauce could have been sickly-sweet but is adroitly balanced to give you something indulgent without it weighing you down unduly.
Service is superb: personable and warm but never clingy or intrusive. Our Estonian server is charming and unflappable throughout- even when challenged with explaining a steakhouse menu to four generations of a Hindu family on the next table.
Perhaps I should have expected such good things from a cousin of The Potted Pig and Porro but we leave both full and impressed- and making a resolution to come back soon for more of those skewers. After all, there are still more to try…
DiscIosure: I was invited to The Meating Place as a guest; this does not oblige me to write a positive review. I call it as I see it on the night.
The Meating Place
40 St Mary St
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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.