Tag Archives: Welsh Back

Glassboat: A Delightful Lunch

On Thursday, 16 August, I had reason to celebrate and thought I’d find a lovely place for lunch. From St Michael’s Hill I walked through the Galleries at Broadmead and through Cabot Circus. I passed St Nicholas Market and did not stop for Pieminister or Source but carried on through to the Welsh Back right next to Bristol Bridge. I have written about the Glassboat before and promised to come back after a mildly unimpressive meal. On this Thursday at 12pm, the restaurant was almost empty and I could not resist the view from inside or the two-course meal for £10.

There was a special menu for £10 for two courses or £15 for three and a selection also available at normal prices.

I chose the bream on greens with a dill sauce for a main and an earl grey chocolate pot with chantilly cream for dessert. I almost selected the coq au vin with mashed potato because there was no mention of potatoes with the fish and on its own I feared that it would be less than substantial. Luckily it arrived with sauteed new baby potatoes which were a great accompaniment.

The fish was pan-fried and well-seasoned and while the portion looked medium sized it was just right for me. The skin was slightly browned at the edges and crisp, while the white flesh was firm with a mild flavour. The sea bream sat on a bed of kale and sauteed new potatoes which were surrounded by a drizzle of dill sauce. The tangy dill, with its almost fennel or aniseed hints of flavour, worked well with the fish and the butter sauce. The dish was a delicious treat.

The Earl Grey chocolate pot was served with a biscuit, a dollop of chantilly cream and splash of orange marmalade tasting sauce. The chocolate was very rich and needed all the other additions to make each bite pleasant. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it but I couldn’t finish the whole thing because the cream and marmalade splash finished before the chocolate did.

The chocolate was dark and was served as a firm mousse of sorts with a hint of the early grey giving it a slight edge. Of the three selections available it was probably the right choice although a bit too decadent in its portion size that day for me.

My lunch at the Glassboat on this particular Thursday made up for the brief disappointment the previous May. The dishes afforded me a delicious chance to linger and I sat facing the Welsh Back which shone and reflected under the midday sun all the way to Radcliffe Bridge. A wonderful experience and I happily recommend the restaurant and the view.

The Glassboat, Welsh Back, Bristol BS1 4SB, tel: 0117 929 0704 email: restaurant@glassboat.co.uk

Impact of Light, an exhibition

A lace curtain blows to one side in front of a window, a half-full glass of orange juice sits on the ledge. This is a scene that the Impact of Light Exhibition hopes will transform the way people look at, and think about, stained glass.

Since June 9th, various pieces have been on display at the Beechcroft Space which is housed within the large commercial law firm Beechcroft LPC. The location of the display is at Portwall Place, Portwall Lane, almost opposite the St Mary of Redcliffe Church and two crossings before Redcliffe Bridge.

I pass the building on the way back home and yesterday I took a moment to investigate what the new art works were doing in the windows of this large building. The exhibition has been set up by a group of glass artists who are also maintaining a blog about the work. As they say: ‘if you thought that stained glass was only for church windows, prepare to be amazed’.

I found it pleasant and the stained glass was curious and pretty enough to make me pause. The glass is visible at all times from the Brunel Mile, a walkway, which runs from Temple Meads Station to the SS Great Britain. It provides for an intriguing addition to a casual stroll towards the Welsh Back or the Bristol Temple Meads station. Whichever way you’re going, it’s just off to the side.

Impact of Light Exhibition, Wednesday 9th June to Tuesday 24th August 2010, Beachcroft Space, Portwall Place, Portwall Lane, Bristol

The Glassboat, mildly unimpressed

Two Persons, two courses each, one bottle of house wine, plus coffee or tea for only £25 in total. The price sounded good and the restaurant, the Glassboat, was one of my favourites in Bristol. An opportunity such as this was not to be missed so my friend Paul and I headed down to the Welsh Back around 6.30 on Tuesday evening. We had not reserved a place but a table with a view of the water was found for us and we were seated quite promptly.

The early bird menu had three of each of starters, mains and desserts so the selection was quite small. I opted for the dill gravidlax starter, we both ordered the whole roasted mackerel main, and Paul chose the chocolate and star anise truffle cake with burnt orange syrup.

My salmon looked impressive and the dill added its distinct pine-like flavour but the pickle was not enough to lift it from its ordinary taste. The salmon wasn’t fresh or cool enough to be enjoyed on its own. Some lemon would have been a great accompaniment but the only ones to be found were in our water.

Bread slices and sticks were brought to our table with an olive oil and balsamic dip. The balsamic vinegar was thick and sticky and the olive oil a bright yellow. It was a nice addition and the bread was soft and alright.

The mackerel was nicely roasted and while the flesh was soft, again, there was a real lack of lemon or dressing to lift up the flavours. The abundance of bones didn’t help but its hard to complain about that as the fish was served whole, though headless, on a bed of panzanella. The panzanella salad was delicious and easily the best part of my meal. Cherry tomatoes combined with roasted red pepper, sweet red onions, capers, small bits of bread and an oil and vinegar dressing to provide a fresh yet flavoursome accompaniment to the fish. All the tanginess that was missing from the other food seemed to have found itself here.

I did not try any of the dessert but was told that it was very tasty. The chocolate and star anise truffle cake looked incredible and Paul seemed to enjoy it all. The burnt orange sauce was served alongside the cake and next to the cream.

The dinner was quite nice but it wasn’t the amazing experience I am used to so I came away mildly unimpressed. The a la carte menu looked quite appetizing so it may still be a treat for the non-early bird diners. The view, as always, was a treat and we even managed to see a swan swim by. I had promised Paul many swans but instead we were treated to many rowers passing by and past Bristol Bridge.

It’s not really a complaint that you’re hearing, to quote Leonard Cohen, because it’s hard to not enjoy a trip to the Glassboat. I was not as amazed at the dinner as I have been in the past. I still recommend the restaurant but maybe not as enthusiastically as usual. The menu changes often, however, so I’ll have to let you know what I think of my next visit. There will definitely be a next visit.

The Glassboat, Welsh Back, Bristol BS1 4SB, tel: 0117 929 0704 email: restaurant@glassboat.co.uk

Cloud formations

Cloud formations, originally uploaded by still awake.

Myristica, opening night

As previously mentioned, I hold great affection for Myristica and am very glad they are re-opening. The date was announced yesterday and Myristica at Welsh Back opens tonight. More precisely, the opening will be on March 19, 1730 at 51 Welshback, Bristol, BS1 4AN.

To make a reservation call 0117 927 2277.

Opening times are as follows: Mon-Friday Lunch 12.00 – 2.00 | Mon – Saturday Dinner 5.30 – 11.30 (last Orders 11.15) | Sunday Dinner 5.30 – 10.30 (last Orders 10.00).

Heaven and Earth

Saturday morning is my favourite time of the week. My body hasn’t yet realised it’s the weekend so I am awake at 6am and waiting for the world to light up. By 6.30 I’ve decided to replace what would have been a morning run with a cycle around the city. So quiet outside and the light is golden but thin. I find my helmet in the living room, hidden behind some books still in a box and I find a pair of gloves right next to it. I take both and head out the door.

I take the lock off the bike and put it in my bag but half way out of the car park I realise that my right hand is colder than my left. I look down and I’m only wearing one glove. I retrace my steps and can’t find it so I put my second pair on and leave the rest to confusion. I’ll worry about it later.

I head out towards Bristol Temple Meads so I can time the journey. I spend the next nine minutes cycling through Millenium Square, over Pero’s Bridge and through Queen Square.

I saw the sun shine golden behind St Mary’s Redcliffe, and icy frost on the Bridge past the Welsh Back.

I hadn’t realised that the road leading up to the entrance of the station had such an incline (tiny probably!) and when I walked through the station and towards the exit on the left my legs felt like they’d been doing some exercise.

Back towards the harbour and I circled Queen Square before cycling towards the water. There was no one around Hotwells apart from some rowers who were putting in a lot of effort for that time of the morning and a couple of women who looked like runners but were walking on this leg of their journey.

By the time I got home an hour had gone by and my little glove was lying next to the bike stand. I must have been so excited to be out and about that I hadn’t waited to put it on. Intriguing but unsurprising. I couldn’t go out running so cycling was a second choice but in retrospect and as Ben Taylor sings “as luck would have it, it just so happens there’s nothing I’d rather do”.

I had my breakfast looking out towards the Bristol Cathedral and trying to think of something fun to do for lunch since it’s looking like a beautiful day. Tonight’s dinner will be at the surprise pop-up restaurant in Daydream Kitchen’s living room. So many hours to fill between breakfast and dinner however.