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Review: Bellita, Bristol

Pulpo!

Pulpo!

I’ve already reviewed the classic Bell’s Diner, an absolute pin-perfect neighbourhood bistro. And now I’m jotting down a few words about their other outpost in another Bristol neighbourhood: Bellita. A bit more bijou, more of a bar with a menu, but every bit as adept with the Mediterranean small-plates.

We had a masterfully cooked bit of octopus, truly generous chunks of tentacle with exactly the right meaty texture. The smoky aubergine puree with olives and lemon would have been an excellent tapa on its own but accompanied the cephalopod perfectly.

Panisse are more of a snack: soft little chunks with a crispy polenta-dusted exterior and a creamy soft interior. Dressed with an anchovy and vinegar dressing they are insanely moorish.

Turnip

Turnip

And then there’s an entire white turnip, presented whole and steaming. Of course it is soft and wet inside, terrifically soothing with the gentle sour brassica tang at the back. The salad of winter leaves with persimmon and hazelnut is tasty as a side dish.

Finally, the star of the show. Hake head with aioli. Seeing that on the board I couldn’t not order it. I had no idea he’d be such a monster! Not something I’d like to meet in his element. But on a plate I can cope, and by the time I’d skilfully picked and winkled around the bony skull I had a pile of silky translucent meat bigger than a handsome fillet and arguably more tasty (and all for a fiver – how crazy is that?).

Bellita is just as good as Bell’s and just as great value. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend either to anyone needing a great bite to eat in Bristol.

Haaaaaake!

Haaaaaake!

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