When it comes to eating out, Bristol is truly blessed… but finding that special restaurant for a first date, or even a full-on proposal, is a personal challenge. Here’s a little list of the city’s firm faves that, we think, will always please the true romantic.
2b North View, Westbury Park, BS6 7QB
Telephone: 0117 970 6276
Manna is the younger sibling of Prego, just over the road on North View, and takes its influences from Spain, Italy and North Africa. The food is as beautiful as it is delicious. and this cosy, friendly restaurant is certainly a very romantic and special place. For Valentine’s Sunday they have produced a delightful menu with some real treats, such as roast hake with rich crab bisque, samphire and saffron poached vegetables. But for everyday romantics, the Kitchen menu is always superb and never fails to please – we recommend the slow roast Nailsea lamb shoulder with aubergine inzimino, roast peppers and salsa verde. There is an ever evolving wine list from favourite wine producers, as well as a fabulous menu of modern and classic cocktails. In 2014, Manna followed in Prego’s footsteps by gaining entry into The Good Food Guide, a real achievement for chef/owners Olly Gallery and Julian Faiello.
Romantic Footnote: “When proposing to my wife, I did the ring bit, all good – people smiling around us and all that. When the bill came I reached for my wallet and realised I had left it at home! Pretty good skills.” — Olly (owner).
12 – 16 Clifton Road, BS8 1AF
Telephone: 0117 329 1300
Nestled on the corner of Clifton Road, Indian fine-dining restaurant The Mint Room opened its doors a year ago, bringing a new style and ambiance to Indian dining. Owner Luthfur Rahman says: “We are looking to redefine Indian cuisine,” and they have certainly succeeded in this stylish, contemporary restaurant with its relaxed, intimate feel. Guests are welcomed at the bar on arrival and can enjoy aperitifs in the softly lit, romantic Champagne Jacquart lounge, where they can peruse the menu and enjoy one of the bespoke cocktails, or a glass of bubbly. The Mint Room prides itself on combining the very best of the traditional and regional, with a modern twist. The kitchen is run by Saravanan Nambirajan, chef from Michelin starred restaurant Tamarind, who focuses on producing refined, elegant dishes with eye-catching presentation. Starters include an exquisite dish of plump, pan-fried Tawa scallops, dusted with subtle spices and served with a creamy kaffir lime and chilli sauce, accompanied by spiced cucumber. One of the chef’s signature main courses is Chettinad lamb rumps – juicy, meltingly tender pieces of lamb, marinaded in a southern Indian sauce of curry leaf, coconut and freshly crushed black peppercorns. The Mint Room will also be offering a Valentine’s Day menu, featuring a trio of starters, spiced lamb cutlets with a vegetable curry, black lentil dhal, and saffron rice, with raspberry mousse and a coconut and lime sorbet for dessert, priced at £28.
Any romantic proposals? “We’ve had lots of romantic moments at the Mint Room, with dozens of proposals over the last year. The Mint Room was even mentioned in the wedding speeches of one of our guests. We love to see these moments, they really touch everyone’s hearts. A few months ago, a gentleman, bringing his would-be fiancée out to dinner, slipped us the ring, and asked us to bring it to the table at a specific moment during the evening. It was a wonderful touch.” — Luthfur (director).
Recently opened Adelina Yard is situated just off Welsh Back. With its tranquil surroundings and romantic views across the floating harbour, this is a lovely restaurant and perfect if you are looking for relaxed surroundings with a warm and casual atmosphere. The interior design appears simple and uncluttered, but there is an impressive attention to detail. A team of chefs – permanently on display in the open-view kitchen – prepare delicious dishes served by gracious staff, who provide a truly hospitable service. Beautifully paired ingredients with unusual flavour combinations include a generous range of fresh fish (currently serving pollock, monkfish, octopus and squid), the oft found on menus but rarely done so well as at Adelina Yard rib-eye steak, a rich flavoursome venison dish, and a rather tempting barbeque Goosnargh duck. The dessert menu is very, very good and includes ironbark pumpkin tart with maple syrup ice-cream, and warm, tonka bean rice pudding with boozy prunes. What heart would not be melted? Adelina Yard is a great new addition to Bristol’s foodie scene and a lovely setting in which to enjoy an intimate and impressive meal.
Who would your dream dinner date be for a romantic supper? “I am pleased to say that after 30 happy years of marriage my dream date is still my wife.” – Mark (director).
Located on St Nicholas Street, in the heart of the Old City, the building that formerly housed The Elephant has now been given a new lease of life. The Boardroom, which opened in December, is a pub and dining room that offers its visitors a stylish yet intimate ambience, enhanced by the crackling of the log fire and the delightful flickering of fairy lights and candles. This less formal approach to dining is perfect for romantic dates and The Boardroom lets its clientele enjoy ‘the art of grazing’, with a simple but mouth-watering selection of charcuterie, fine cheeses and artisan breads, all artfully and generously presented on boards big enough to share. The emphasis is on using as much independently produced fare as possible, with many of the ingredients locally sourced, and this comes through in the quality of the offerings. To compliment the food are a large selection of wines, all available by the bottle or glass, beers from Wiper and True, local ciders and a pleasing array of whisky and other spirits. So snuggle down in front of that log fire, because an intimate evening doesn’t get much better than this.
Date night etiquette – who should pay for the meal, or should you split the bill? “When I ask someone out on a date I always pay. Unless it’s my wife who’s with me for dinner, in that case she pays!” – Alex (co-owner and renowned joker).
The Sugar House, Narrow Lewins Mead, BS1 2NU
Telephone: 0117 403 2979
In the offices of The Bristol Magazine, we were wondering just how many proposals have taken place at the Hotel Du Vin? Heaven knows, as this is a deeply romantic place, and timeless classic on the Bristol scene – perfect for the most intimate dining occassion. Inspired by French home-style cooking with robust earthy dishes and slow-cooked foods, Bistro du Vin’s Gallic influenced menu has an undeniably British flavour. It’s about serving up dishes that rely heavily on fresh and seasonal produce, and enjoying moderately priced à la carte dining in a down-to-earth, warm and relaxing setting. From seasonal, French inspired dishes including classic duck cassoulet, Gloucester Old Spot pork belly, and Lapin au Cidre braised rabbit in a rich cider sauce, to the glorious 28 day, dry aged, on the bone steaks and the popular Plats du Jour selection. All these delectable dishes are served by attentive and exceptionally knowledgeable waiting staff, who are happy to explain the dishes, the ingredients, and how the talented chefs put them together. The sommelier is always on hand, ready to advise, guide, match or recommend the perfect wine. As for the décor – think natural daylight, reclaimed dark-stained floorboards, restored fireplaces, antique framed pictures and paintings, soft lighting and comfortable chairs. This is bistro dining at its mouth-watering best.
Date night etiquette – who should pay for the meal, or should you split the bill? “I would pause with the bill in hand at the guest’s table and pass to whoever makes the first move.” – Grant (general manager).
Welsh Back, Harbourside, BS1 4RR.
Telephone: 0117 915 6060
153 Whiteladies Road, BS8 2RF.
Telephone: 0117 973 3314
Since opening in 1998 Bristol’s Aqua restaurants have established themselves as firm favourites of the city’s lovers. As the home of great Italian cuisine, the two Bristol restaurants showcase a love of Italy – both its culture and superb food – and express it with the passion of a true romantic. The food is amazing too, and here at TBM we love the tasty veal Milanese, rabbit ragout, and succulent pork cheeks, and have found that the small plates are perfect for sharing. The à la carte menu is fulsome and offers a great variety of dishes, or if you’re on a tighter budget the smaller plates are ideal, giving you the choice of five dishes for £20. The lunch and early dinner menus feature two courses for £10.95 or three courses for £12.95, Monday to Saturday, and there are 2-4-1 Bellinis until 7pm every day. Aqua is also famous for its fabulous Sunday roasts (£11.95). Whether dining with your loved one or bringing your family for a quick delicious pizza, the staff at Aqua will make sure you are extremely well looked after.
Any romantic proposals? “The most memorable would be in our Whiteladies restaurant. The boyfriend was getting the ring couriered in but it hadn’t arrived and it was getting closer to the time of the booking. We had to chase up the courier, and fortunately it arrived just in time. Needless to say, when his girlfriend opened it she said ‘Yes!’” – Ben (operations director).