Right now, I am in the dubious, and possibly envious position of being a man of leisure.
You may, or may not be aware, but I was made redundant from my job a couple of months ago and, while I consider which potential future career path I should amble down, I’ve been eating in a lot of restaurants, a hell of a lot in fact.
This past week, whilst practicing my newfound leisure/thinking time in Bristol, I ate at a hand full of places, but Graze Bar and Chophouse located on the corner of Queens Square stood out as being particularly good.
In a bit of a diversion from their more traditional pubs, the owners; Bath Ales (makers of the superb 'Gem' Ale), have built what could be best described as a contemporary take on a classic British Chophouse, and a very nice job they’ve done of it too.
The whole place looks fantastic; successfully merging an almost traditional tiled butchers look with a more modern vibe and incorporating some nifty design touches, think steak knife coat hooks and a cow divided up into various cuts wallpaper.
I was extremely pleased to see a menu bristling with exactly the sort of classic British grub you’d hope to see from a restaurant describing itself as a Chophouse, Ox Tongue and Coleslaw sandwich anyone? How about baked beans on toast with black pudding?
But although there being an obvious emphasis on meat, the menu is split pretty evenly between fish, a nice selection of salads, and my favourite - tasty dead mammals.
‘E’ and I decided to share a starter from a section of the menu titled ‘on toast’ which interestingly, doubles up as a kind of all day brunch selection.
Mushrooms, Tarragon & Cream arrived, two slices of toasted sourdough heaped with mushrooms, swimming in a rich buttery tarragon cream sauce, bloody hell it was good…cursing the fact that I hadn’t ordered one to myself and that we’d decided to share we blatantly and selfishly fought for a decent share of the food. Cracking, good simple rustic grub, well done. I could eat it all day long.
I struggled to choose a main, there being so many things I wanted to try on the menu, but settled for a dish befitting a chophouse, Pork Chop with braised Pig Cheeks and Black pudding sauce.
What eventually arrived was what could best be described as a tower of pig. Goggle eyed I viewed this vision of porcine massiveness from every angle, a potato cake straining under the weight of a massive pork chop, itself mounted with a mound of braised pig cheeks and as if this wasn’t enough, decorated with two slices of pancetta; and finally, just to underline the sheer meatyness of it all, a rich black pudding sauce encircled the whole dish.
A solitary tear of joy ran down my cheek, it was almost too beautiful to eat, and I swear I heard a feint oinking noise as I dug in.
Lovely, seriously good. If I had any complaint, it would be that the pork chop seemed a bit tough, slightly overdone perhaps and that it was such a ridiculously huge portion of food, I struggled to finish it.
While I’m on the subject of ridiculously sized portions, I must mention the side order of mash potato. It was beautiful, very nicely made, creamy, everything you could ask for in a mash – but seriously, there must have been a whole bag of spuds in there. ‘E’ and I gave the mash a serious workout, but it was never-ending…. honestly, four people could have shared such a behemoth side order of mash and struggled to finish it. Priced at £2.75, I’m wondering how they make any money on it.
‘E’s main of Fillet of Cornish Pollock with New Potatoes, Spinach, Capers and Lemon was, in comparison to the plate of food I was eating my way through, much less generously proportioned, but was very nicely cooked in a decent and simple fashion, the buttery lemon and caper sauce being spot on. Perfect.
This is quite rare, believe me, but neither of us could even look at the desserts. We were both of us stuffed silly, but extremely happy with the food we’d just eaten.
I like Graze Bar and Chophouse a lot, I like the contemporary British chophouse concept, and it’s been done really well here. The menu is interesting, the food is very good, not stunning but then that’s not the aim, this isn’t a fancy restaurant. It’s exactly as it should be, solid, generously portioned, nicely cooked and beautifully simple where it needs to be.
I’m looking forward to eating there again, and you can’t get much more of a recommendation than that.
Graze Bar and Chophouse
63 Queen Square
Telephone: 0117 9276706