BANK Roast Review

Rosanna Spence tucks into a roast at BANK in Totterdown, finding out why its contemporary take on Sunday lunch has been named one of the best in the UK.

Call me a traditionalist, but I usually prefer home-cooked Sunday roast over venturing out. I like the ritual of the whole thing. Discussing overly elaborate reinventions of vegetable accompaniments over morning coffee. Popping a bottle of red and slowly sipping it while the kitchen fills with steam, blurring the dreary late afternoon from view the other side of the window. I don’t even mind all the washing up that comes with it.

Sometimes, trying to track down a table for Sunday lunch in Bristol feels a bit like a military operation; three friends calling around pubs frantically checking for cancellations mid-morning, with the chances to grab some grub deteriorating by the minute. (I know, I should be more organised, but I love saving a bit of spontaneity for Sunday; it makes the weekend feel a little longer). And when another similarly-named Bristol venue made headlines recently for fully booking all its Sunday lunch tables a year in advance, you can’t help but think, “Is all the fuss worth it?”

But, I’ve finally eaten a Sunday roast to make me rethink my relationship with this homemade meal. When I spotted the news that Totterdown-based restaurant BANK’s wood-fired, contemporary Sunday lunch was named as one of the best in the UK (with a score of 92.5% according to @RateGoodRoasts, earning it a place in the top 10), as well as the venue being named one of SquareMeal’s Top 100 Restaurants for 2024 and gaining a spot in The Good Food Guide’s prestigious list of Britain’s 100 Best Local Restaurants 2023, I thought it seemed the perfect moment to see if head chef and co-owner Jack Briggs-Horan’s menu could change my mind about restaurant roasts. And, as it turns out, I stand corrected.

In fact, as I polished off what might have been one of the best desserts I’ve eaten in my life, I was already wondering how soon I could come back. Next Sunday, perhaps?

This month marks a year since Briggs-Horan started serving roasts at BANK. At first glance, the menu seems traditional enough. But look closer and it glints with global influences, with some ingredients found on the restaurant’s usual sharing plates menu starring in cameo roles (think green harissa and miso), without dominating the overall essence of a proper British roast.

We kicked off our meal with mixed drinks: a jalapeño aquavit Bloody Mary for my partner (bloody delicious) and a citrusy ‘Peel Diamond’ for me (a non-alcoholic take on an Aperol Spritz with Lyre’s Italian Orange, chicory syrup, and soda).

Onto the main event, and we ordered the Middle White pork belly with black garlic and miso (Britain’s only dedicated pork breed, renowned for its robust flavour and marvellous crackling; it did not disappoint) and Salt Marsh lamb shoulder topped with a generous blob of exquisite green harissa paste that we would have happily smothered everything in sight with.

The team sources all its meat from the south west, within 30 miles of the restaurant, and the quality shows; both the lamb and pork melted under the force of our forks.

All roasts are served with the following as standard: smoked garlic potatoes; crushed carrot, swede and parsnip; charred savoy cabbage; smoked beetroot purée (spread on the main plate, under the meat – this was divine and added smoky sweet undertones to the whole dish), braised red cabbage, red wine gravy and a plump Yorkshire pudding. We were asked if we needed a gravy top up at some point, too.

The side act that stole the show was a smoked fractal-esque Romanesco broccoli (actually a type of cauliflower) topped with silky whipped Dorset red cheese. I could have eaten a mixing bowl’s worth. I resisted.

A decision I’m particularly proud of was ordering dessert. This is a rich roast dinner, but you’ll be even more richly rewarded by pushing through feeling too full and choosing the caramelised white chocolate mousse (pictured opposite). It was honestly one of the best desserts I’ve tasted in years. I’m still telling anyone who will listen about it. The delicate mousse was served with cubes of poached rhubarb, blood orange gel and crunchy buttered oats. It was sharp, sweet and textured.

Savoury-seekers, do not despair. A delicious-sounding cheese selection is also available if that’s how you like to wile away the afternoon instead. Choose one or two cheeses (Ogleshield and/or Rachel Goats’) and it’s served with focaccia and preserves.

A blustery waddle home awaited, so we ordered two nutty, creamy coffees to finish our Sunday lunch. BANK takes its beans seriously, supplied by Bristol roaster Odd Kin Coffee. They were served in delicate ceramic handle-less mugs, which meant we could cosily cup our hands around the gorgeous cuppa, spending our final few moments lingering in the calming natural daylight that floods the restaurant, before heading back out into elements.