“ Whiteladies Road, Bristol Tel: 0117 973 0646 „
I've heard of this place spoken of in reverential tones, passed by it several times on Bristol's Whiteladies road, and looked at its elegant Georgian facade with the closed windows and door. I've seen plenty of the coupons in the local paper for an offer of Monday - Thursday, 6 courses for a bargain £22.50, which always sounded quite expensive. And I just never really got round to going, until a few weeks ago for my Mother-In-Laws 60th birthday, and Hurrah, it was being paid for by them,! Well how could I say no? After much hinting by M-I-L to Alan about ironed shirts and no jeans I got my best togs on and off we set. A word about the dress code, it is smart, I personally took all my facial piercings out as I hate people staring at me when I eat. I thinks its rather sad that you can walk into any upmarket restaurant wearing jeans and a crop top, not dressing up for 'dinner' is something sadly missed. I definitely don't think they would appreciate that here! If you did walk in a summer top and shorts you would probably feel so uncomfortable you wouldn't stay! The proprietors of the restaurant run it in quite a novel way. You cant reserve a table unless its a large group, like ours of eleven, you get there at 7.30 p.m. and then they shut the doors. Colleys only do one sitting per evening so once those doors are shut you've no chance of getting in. And what's it like when you get in? You'll be astonished at the amount of burgundy velvet brocade and gilt! It really does look like an fashioned dining room. There's two medium sized rooms but it intimate enough for a quiet romantic dinner for two or large enough for a group of 11. No rowdiness here though! Anything I think its time to talk about the thing that makes Colleys famous and that's the food and drink. You've settled down, the doors are closed and the first thing you are offered is a complimentary glass of Colleys
Punch, a delicious mix of vodka, peach schnapps and fruit juices, that was my drink for the entire evening! Then of course its time to peruse the menu, aah, problem, the only menu available is the wine list. Colleys only do set menus and you find out what's on offer in a rather unique way. The first eating action is some warm bread and butter, then you are invited to a huge table to sample the 'hors d'oeuvre. On this particular evening there were soft boiled eggs in a thousand Island sauce, tuna and sweetcorn pasta, tiny onion bhagis, and vegetables and fruit cous cous to name a few. I can't fault any of them, the eggs were simply delicious, simple but one of the best things I have tasted. So then there's a decent wait and a few glasses of good wine before the soup course. It was a revolting sounding cauliflower and goats cheese. But, oh dear, was I wrong, it was mild and creamy and lovely, I wasn't too taken with the goats cheese which was sprinkled on top, but then it always tastes like old socks to me. And it doesn't come in soup dishes, you have the tureen on the table so you can help yourselves. When that's been digested it on to the starter, the starter! I was starting to feel like I'd already had a full meal! This is where the Colleys unique system comes in. There are only two starters and they bring them to your table so you can see what they are like. I forewent the mild mushroom and courgette risotto with parmesan shaving for the chicken Caesar salad. This was a medium portion of mixed leaves with chicken and drizzled with a Caesar dressing. I could quite happily have eaten a bigger portion! Then you have the inevitable lemon sorbet to cleanse the palate ready for the next bit! You have to wait quite a while for the next course, not that I was complaining as I was happily downing glasses of Colleys Punch and being taught native Airdronian by my Scottish in-l
aws. Ooh what was that coming? They're showing us the next course and its the biggest, most delicious piece of roast beef I've ever seen. Of course I was wondering what would happen if the chef dropped it on the floor! That roast beef came with Daphnes potatoes and a chasseur sauce, sadly I wasnt over enamoured of the sauce, the sauce could have been a bit richer. But I could have chosen the Potato and Pepper Cake on a bed of Pak Choi, Tuna Steak with Spicy Mango salsa and, sorry I cant remember what the Pork was with. Apparently there were rumours that the Pak Choi wasn't perfect but that came from my fussy Sister in Law Dishes of new potatoes, carrots, broccoli and vile creamed celeriac were brought to the table and filled up again if requested. Enough food to feed a small army was put upon our table that night, and it wasn't over! The thing that makes Colleys famous was heading twards our table...the desserts. They showed everything to us, there were around ten and I only remember the raspberry and mincemeat parfait the hot chocolate fudge brownie, Cointreau and chocolate mousse, Kiwi and Orange Trifle. Did I mention that you can eat as many desserts as you wanted? No really, its true. I had the most delicious chocolate brownie with hot chocolate fudge sauce. And a good slightly bitter chocolate sauce it was too! The Cointreau in the mousse was a little too overpowering for my tastes. Lord know how I managed to pass up the trifle, and the sizes are on the generous side too. But you think its all over? Sorry, not quite. You then get lovely pots of mature Cheddar and Stilton and crackers, happily replaced if you've been piggy enough to eat them all! Then of course the tea and coffee, they very nicely gave me an an enormous pot of de-caff coffe, filtered, it had a lovely rich taste. Finally out came the brandies, not for me however as every time my mouth was full, my Father-In-Law would order me mor
e punch. And then it was finally over, and good Lord it was 11.30pm! The service was impeccable, there was always a waiter to hand if you needed anything, but thankfully they didnt come over when your mouth was full and asked you if everthing is ok. I presume they didnt think there would be a problem. You never felt pressured to hurry up and finish. The plates wre never taken away until everyone had finished, I hate people fussing over the table and taking dishes whilst others are still eating. If you are disabled I suggest you go to the toilet beforehand, getting into the restaurant is easy but the toilets are up a small windy set of stairs. Other may find the choice of food quite restrictive being as there is only one vegetarian course, and if you have any other dietary needs, that could prove a problem. The price could be perceived as good as bad, it sounded expensive but £26.50 for seven courses plus coffee sounds quite reasonable to me. I oubt you would find such value in many of Bristols top restaurants. Even so, for 11 of us, including drinks, and the Im-Laws do like good wine, the bill came to over £300! But I wouldn't have missed it for the world, and as Colleys change their menus every fortnight, we're already planning our next visit! Thanks for reading, a long op for a long meal!!