Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Second Floor Restaurant, Harvey Nichols, Bristol

Whilst in Bristol over the past few days I enjoyed a business lunch with a colleague at Second Floor Restaurant in the Harvey Nichols in the Cabot Circus centre.

A late lunch, we arrived around 2:30pm and were one of only two tables, which made for a very quiet setting. The restaurant is very much geared up to be “fine dining” and the luxurious gold seating around the place made for a very opulent atmosphere.

We made the most of the set lunch menu and shared our food throughout so as to try as much as possible.

To start we had a pheasant terrine with a prune and red onion marmalade with toasted focaccia and a smoked kipper terrine, which came with the same bread, a little green salad and a wedge of lemon. Both were excellent, the pheasant was rich, chunky and gamey, seasoned well and beautifully complemented by the caramelised red onion and prune accompaniment. The kipper too was fantastic, much smoother in texture and with a light and delicate flavour, enhanced with a squeeze of lemon and the green salad that was generously populated with fresh sprigs of dill – always a good partner to any fish dish.

For the mains we had a fillet of South coast gurnard that came with a Jerusalem artichoke risotto and lemon veloute that looked simply stunning when it arrived. The fish was pan fried to perfection, fleshy white fish, full of flavour and with a delicious and expertly seasoned crispy skin. The risotto was very light with just the merest hint at creaminess, and again flavoured with delicate dill – divine.

Alongside the gurnard we selected the belly pork dish, cooked in ginger, chilli and coconut and accompanied by some gloriously creamy, sweet potato mash. Once again the dish looked gorgeous and the flavour certainly matched up. The pork belly had been slow cooked to the point where it absolutely fell apart and melted in the mouth, and the sauce the meat had been cooked in was a sweet yet sour, sticky glaze, Asian inspired on a classic British dish – genius. Once again, this is a dish I will be attempting to emulate in my own kitchen.

We completed the meal with a vanilla pannacotta that was ridiculously light with a poached quince compote that completely lifted the delicious vanilla cream jelly to a whole new dimension – superb. 

We also had a Valrhona chocolate brownie with a twist – it also comprised of pumpkin, something I found quite strange when perusing the menu, but that my dining companion, a chef and restaurateur, said would work well and that squash and sweet potato do work well in baking. So we gave it a shot and I wasn’t disappointed. It came with a scoop of black pepper ice cream and when it arrived it reminded me of a mini Guinness. The chocolate brownie was rich and whilst dark chocolate can be quite bitter, the pumpkin inside meant the flavour was instantly transferred to sweet. The ice cream was lovely, and subtle and worked well with this sweet chocolate dessert.

The set menu at £17 for two courses and £20 for three courses is incredibly reasonable given the high standard of food on offer, we literally couldn’t find a single flaw with the meal, which given I was with a professional chef speaks volumes. We both had a glass of house white wine with our meal and a large bottle of sparkling water and the entire bill, including service amounted to

I’ll definitely return again next time I come to Bristol, especially as the menu is seasonal and changes each month. The service was impeccable, the food flawless and the bill affordable, not to mention the view overlooking the city and watching the world go by from the second floor – a fabulous retreat.

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