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Review: Bulrush, Bristol

Bulrush

Bulrush

Oh wow, I love Bulrush. You’ll love it to, I suspect. This is top-notch fine dining at a knockdown price, and if I lived in Bristol I’d be here every month. Like a lot of the best things in Bristol, it’s tucked away down a side street in a one of the little residential districts surrounding the city, in an odd-shaped building at the end of a row of shops that they’ve managed to magically squish a bunch of tables into. Artfully, too, with a nicely relaxed boho style that made me feel instantly chilled out and well-disposed to my lunch. The service was friendly and helpful.

Turnip & peas

Turnip & peas

We began with a tempura’d beignet of tofu, a blog of very miso-laden mayonaise on top. Such a hit of umami, perfect way to get the juices flowing. More nifty starters followed, including a brightly brassic broccoli mousse. There was a snug little pottery bowl containing a dollop of Montgomery cheddar custard with heritage carrot. The custard had a great texture, thick and sturdy like a… like a… y’know, I’m not sure it had any obvious likeness! But it was tangy and delicious.

I was particularly smitten by a palate-cleansing starter of wobbly white dill junket, served with tiny fresh green peas and a turnip granita. Yeah! Turnip sorbet! The snarky turnip flavour was pronounced and paired beautifully with the peas and dill.

Crab & peach

Crab & peach

Two seafood dishes followed, and it’s worth noting here (in case my photos, as ever, don’t quite do justice) that all the plating at Bulrush is absolutely picture-perfect and makes you smile before you ever stick your fork in. They’ve won before you’ve even tasted the food! Anyway, the blowtorched sliver of otherwise raw sole, served with fresh almond mousse, pickled grapes and a bright gazpacho was bliss; light Spanish summer flavours, the whole combo ending up like the best possible salmorejo. And then the picked crab with pickled peach and Japanese mooli was even better, given plenty of oomph by a foam of the brown crab meat, and of course the silly grin factor of combining crab + peach + radish.

The lamb main was basically a classic, with charred baby gem and generous dollops of a deeply funky anchovy sauce.

Lamb

Lamb

Leaving us with pud. The first pud was a beauty, a big boob of pine mousse hiding a lovely sharp/sweet lemon sorbet and then a crunchy almond frangipane in the base. The pine flavour (which I love) took front and centre. The second pud was the only “meh” dish for me from the whole menu. Rosemary meringue was very jolly, apricot stone ice cream was a pretty modest but pleasant flavour. But the BBQ apricots that were meant to star were really just too austere, almost as chewy as dried fruit from their cooking and only having the bitter side of the apricot flavour spectrum to offer. Oddly enough, if this dish included a few cubes of nicely BBQ’d lamb it might have been a thumping good main! Maybe.

Anyway, who cares? This was an absolutely spiffing meal, and at £48 each for this tasting lunch it’s frankly brilliant value. The Bulrush deserves to do extremely well and I’m going to find more excuses to visit Bristol now so that I can go again. You should too.

Seared sole

Seared sole

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