Cathay Rendezvous is a Chinese restaurant in the central Bristol location of King Street. On a very sunny Friday afternoon, my friend Graeme and I decided to try their menu, and we were led away from the sunlight into a more intimate setting of the restaurant’s downstairs dining area. It was cool and dark inside and the tone was a little hushed as there weren’t that many tables occupied. The restaurant’s impressive and prestigious building dates back to 1738 and it was the first purpose built library in England but is now listed as an ancient monument apparently.
The building was nice although I am not sure it added to the dining experience. We ordered prawn crackers, £2, while deciding on the food choices and both liked the sound of refillable jasmine tea at £1.80 each. The tea must have already been already brewed because it was poured for us straight away.
We chose to share a dim sum platter, at £5.50 each, which was listed as one of the specials on the board. We were brought a bamboo steam basket with eight dim sum accompanied by three sauces – chilli, sweet and sour and a vinegar sauce. The fillings included seafood with ginger, pork and mixed meats, mushroom and pork and prawns with chestnut. The selection was quite nice but seemed too similar to the frozen selection sold at the Chinese supermarket on St Thomas St. I’m not saying that they were bought from there but I could have had the same selection had I made them at home. They didn’t compare to the dim sum selection at Dynasty.
We ordered two main meals and rice with mixed prawns and meat in a lotus leaf, £6.90. The leaf not only flavours the rice but helps provide it with a moist cover to keep it ready for eating. The main meals were szechuan king prawns at £9.90 and shredded chicken with chilli at £7.90. Both were nicely presented and placed over the tea lights in our food warmer. The spice we were expecting wasn’t quite there. The bright red sauce brought to mind ketchup more than authentic recipes. The aroma wasn’t that fragrant for either dish and while they were both pleasant in flavour they were not extraordinary. The rice was exceptionally good however and the meat mix included whole king prawns. The delicate flavour of the lotus leaf added a lot more to our evening’s taste than did anything else.
The service was exceptional although Graeme wasn’t too happy at having someone always hovering by. I quite liked the fact that when I realised the waitress had taken my itemised receipt and turned to ask for it, a second waitress rushed off to get it for me. I didn’t mind the attention.
The restaurant was lovely and the dining experience was nice but I have had better in Bristol. Dynasty on St Thomas St, Mayflower at the Haymarket and the incredible Zen at Millennium Square immediately come to mind.
The Cathay Rendezvous, 30 King St, Bristol BS1 4D2. Tel: 0117 9226161, email : firstname.lastname@example.org. http://www.cathay-rendezvous.com