As much as cooking is my therapy, my family and I love eating out too. A couple of weeks ago we went to the Cherry Duck Harbourside Bistro in Bristol for dinner. Nestled on a cobbled street onto the edge of the River Avon, a popular restaurant area, the restaurant is attractively lit with floor to ceiling windows and a clear view of the pass (very important to a hungry customer).
Ordering food is a major decision in our family, food envy is rife in this environment and menus are ideally studied prior to arrival. For the starters (from the March menu), I chose well, though you can’t go wrong with soft cheese, spinach and sweet onion, Pizza Express knew what they were talking about with the Padana. The Fosse Way Fleece: Cotswold sheep cheese and spinach filo parcel, caramelised baby onion and beetroot puree was delicious. If I had to fault it in anyway it’d be that the spring-roll-type parcels could have had more filling to pastry, since the cheese is supposedly the star or the dish, given the name, so why not let it sing.
The other offerings for the starter were the Squid and Chorizo, that went down well around our table and the trio of Organic Var Salmon, which had a less warm reception due to an unsavoury jasmine jelly.
For my main I had Plaice and Crab: Fillet of plaice, crab cake with marinated courgette and fennel ad crab bisque. I enjoyed this dish but it was a bit heavy on the yang in the yin-yang sphere, it lacked some cooling lightness to lift it from being quite so rich. Though I doubt it helped that I was helping myself to sides of garlic and herb roasted new potatoes and honey roasted parsnips and beetroot, which were perfectly cooked and they served it with the roasted garlic cloves which are lovely to dissect.
The Frampton on Severn Beef was the desired option by the rest of the family, which was tasty, with the accompanied oxtail croquette being a highlight.
Dessert was delightful, White Chocolate and Passion Fruit: White chocolate mousse, passion fruit sorbet and coulis and a pistachio tuile. The mousse tasted of white chocolate and not nothing, as a lot of things that claim to be white chocolate flavoured do in my experience. The sorbet and coulis were sharp and intense and the tuile was crisp and adaquately nutty.
I would recommend the Cherry Duck, the service was good, there was really good music playing at a suitably, just-audible level and a relaxed atmosphere. The food and wine was very good and where possible celebrated ingredients from the West Country. It’s a nice place for a special occasion as it has an informal charm and fits the term ‘bistro’ well.