If you’ve been in Bristol any amount of time, you’ll know it’s blessed with an abundance of excellent restaurants. You’ll also know that a new one seems to pop up every week. The latest addition to the weekly roundup comes from the team behind Pasta Loco (aka Dominic Borel & chef Ben Harvey), and has been open just a few weeks. Being the foodies that we are, hubby and I jumped at the opportunity to check out this latest addition to the bustling Bristol restaurant scene.
Considered one of the hottest new openings in Bristol, and taking over the site of the old Bell’s Diner on York Road in Montpellier, Bianchis is a contemporary version of a traditional Italian trattoria. The dinner menu is presented in five sections (Cured, Raw, Antipasti, Primi, and Secondi), and you are encouraged to sample from each, family style.
Hubby and I started off with the Bresaolo (£5) from the Cured section, the mackerel (£7) from the Raw section, and the salt cod and ‘nduja fritella (£2per) from the Antipasti section. The bresaola (cured beef) was presented simply with a splash of lemon and plenty of black pepper. The beetroot soaked Cornish mackerel, teeming with hues of deep purple, was as pleasing aesthetically as it was to the palate (hubby & I don’t even like beetroot, so that’s saying a lot). The salt cod and ‘nduja frittellas, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, were packed full of flavor and very more-ish; to quote hubby “I could eat a whole plate of those”!
Moving on to the mains, I chose the beef shin pappardelle (£12) and hubby went for the grilled pork chop (£16). It should be noted here that all Primi and Secondi dishes can be shared amongst guests in a traditional family style, and it is not uncommon for diners to enjoy several items from each of these two sections of the menu. As it was just hubby and I, and we were trying to save room for dessert, we went for a single dish each. Now I probably wouldn’t have normally gone for the beef shin, but I had heard things, good things, so I went for it, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! Arguably one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating! The beef was so moist and tender, and had a subtle hint of the Chianti it had been stewed in. Laden with parmesan, it was the highlight of the meal for me. Hubby’s pork chop was perfectly grilled and had a sweat, smokey flavour. It was topped with crispy prosciutto, salsa rossa, and served with a side of potato lucasi (cooked in butter and rosemary until crispy).
As I mentioned above, we were saving room for dessert, so I ordered the burnt lemon tart and hubby settled on the bitter chocolate and almond cake. Bianchis’ dessert menu is not extensive (a couple of baked items and gelatos), but what is lacks in choice, it makes up for in flavour. The burnt lemon tart was absolutely delicious, with just the right amount of sharpness. The creme fresh it was served with cut perfectly through the tart lemon flavours. The bitter chocolate and almond cake was equally delicious and perfectly balanced; not too bitter and not too sweet.
Now no Griffiths’ date night would be complete without a few tipples, so we ordered a lovely Slovenian Pinot Blanc with our meal. This particular wine was very crisp and refreshing and went well with both my pasta dish and hubby’s pork dish. Bianchis’ wine list is very well thought out, and includes a selection from across the globe; from Slovenia all the way to my home state of California, and everywhere in between. We also treated ourselves to an after dinner espresso martini made by Dom himself while we sat at the bar. It was our first time officially meeting Dom, we’ve talked with him before, but never been properly introduced. He’s a cool, chilled dude who is extremely passionate about what he does, and that certainly comes through in the service and food.
So there you have it, this girl’s guide to Bianchis, the latest addition from the Pasta Loco ‘boys’. I’d highly recommend trying it, and doing so soon, before it gets super crazy, and like their other restaurants, requires bookings months in advance. Everything these guys touch seems to turn to gold, so get it while you can, I promise you won’t be disappointed.