• verb 1 (of cattle, sheep, etc.) eat grass in a field. 2 informal eat frequent snacks at irregular intervals
• adjective 1 constituting an average. 2 usual or ordinary. 3 mediocre.
A Bristolcentric post I’m afraid.
Bath Ales make a fine beer. Their organic lager, Natural Blonde, not only has a cute name, but its my favourite beer in the world. I don’t know what benefits having organic lager gives you mind, but it does taste good. Their other ales are apparently excellent, but I don’t tend to drink dark things, so I can’t say. Bath Ales also run some very nice (if getting slightly samey) pubs in Bristol & Bath. Their formula would appear to be a reasonable one, usually; friendly staff, decent wine list, natural woods, sunday lunches, real ales. They are not cheap, which is good from some perspectives – never a bad idea to price out the chavs. So I was interested to see what the score was in this bona fide non pub.
And it was – ok. The staff were nice if slightly absent to begin with. The place is nicely lit. There is music – and if The Magic Numbers on constant loop is musically your cup of tea, then your luck’s in, for I heard the whole album three times in a row. Obviously our drinks were fine. The menu, on first glance, looked great – there’s a lot of stuff. From things on toast, salads, seafood, proper meals, steak and chips, pork chop (natch). Greedy companion and I were so pathetically grateful to have ended a pair of pretty grim working days and to get out of the snow, that we fell on the menu like it was some sacred text. It’s not a sacred text, but its a pretty varied choice.
We’d settled on bread and olives to share for a start. And we were rewarded by a huge bowl of the most delicious olives. I mean really fantastic. I would venture to say that the best thing about the place was the bowl of olives we got. Sirisly! But it was let down by some half heartedly toasted bread, which was neither here nor there with the stingiest smear of olive oil. We asked for butter and got a chunk so cold it wasn’t feasible to spread it on the bread. Not a huge deal. Just irritating. Greedy companion went for steak and chips and I went for pork chops, which comes on a bed of quite vinegary red cabbage. Now, it strikes me that if your steak comes with chips, then for the same price your pork chop should come with a side of carb (we’re not talking about an organic, rare-breed or even free range chop as far as I can tell), but apparently not. So I ordered some ‘triple cooked’ chips at £2.75. When my teeth stopped grinding at the cheek of that, we settled down to our meals. Greedy companion’s steak was a perfectly cooked medium rare. Some of her chips like mine though, despite being ‘triple cooked’ (arrghhjg) were so thick that they hadn’t cooked completely through and were slightly al -dente. They tasted great, but I ask you now, whats the point of triple cooking something for it still to come out a bit hard?! My chop was nicely cooked. It was very sagey, which is not a bad thing at all.
Nothing on the dessert menu took our fancy, and despite the snow coming down like.. bloody Alaska, we decided to head on out into the night.
Total bill for a bit of bread and olives, pint and a half of real ale, small bottle of (organic!) lager rump steak & chips, pork chop & chips and a cup of coffee: £40. Which, is not the end of the world in terms of food bills, but for what was an essentially average bar meal, seemed a bit steep. We didn;t even get tipsy .
I think the problem that Graze will have, is actually, places around there just do that sort of thing better, a smidge cheaper and better quality and have done so for years. Given the choice I’d take Bordeaux Quay, Goldbrick House, The Cafe Bar at River Station and even the Arnolfini for the same proposition. Still. next time I fancy lamb kidney on toast with a cheeky natural blonde for my lunch, I won’t dismiss it out of hand.
3/5 (1 whole point for the olives)
Graze Bar & Chop House, Queens Square, Bristol.