The lucky, lucky beggar that I am got taken out to dinner the other night by my lovely partner. A typical Scotsman, hes always happy to take advantage of a bargain or an offer and that is precisely why we are out! Twice a year the Bristol Evening Post get you to collect 4 tokens, then they team you up with various restaurants to offer you two courses for a set price. Delmonico was the first on our list, we didnt even know what kind of restaurant it was! But it was the only one with any tables free so it was off to there we went.
I sent Alan off to the Internet to check it out, expecting with a name like Delmonicos it would be an Italian. How wrong I was! It describes itself as an English restaurant with a French and Asian fusion. I have to say Im always suspicious of the word fusion;, Im certainly not persuaded by it. Anyway its time to bite the broccoli and head over.
Its on the Gloucester Road in Bristol, which is a devil of a busy road, I suggest you allow yourself 10 minutes to find parking in one of the side streets. If youre going by bus the 75, 76,77 stops conveniently near.
When we first stepped into the restaurant the proprietor look rather perturbed at the sight of me warming my hand under the door heater! I wasnt overawed by his attitude either, he led us to a table at the rear of the room without asking us if we wanted a drink or offer to take our coats as he had done with other diners, which I did find quite rude and I hoped the waitress would be more polite.
The restaurant itself can only be described as elegant, its split level with the smoking section well away from the non-smoking, there are also a set of stairs leading to a private dining room.
The walls are a lovely deep cream with strategically placed blue lamps and mirrors. In the smoking section quite a few tables are placed by long sofas. Just a foible of mine, but I dont like eating on sofas. Being in the non-smoking section we had lovely padded chairs. And the place is spotless, even the dado rail had been cleaned, snowy white tablecloths and sparkling cutlery. Although it was slightly marred when I look down and saw a large section of unpainted timber on the skirting board!
Whilst we perused our special menu we had a complimentary (large) glass of house white wine. And I was pleasantly surprised, it tasted like a very good medium. Both myself and Alan are not huge wine drinkers, but even he agreed we hadnt been served the vinegar!
It didnt take us long to order as there was a great deal of choice on offer, 3 starters, 5 mains and 4 desserts. They have changed the menu completely now, so Im afraid what I describe isnt going to be available, but itll give you an idea of what the food is like.
I decided to go for a starter and a main course as the desserts didnt interest me at all. Hence I found myself looking forward to the Potato, Leek and Blue Cheese tart that would be winging its way towards me. As it also comes as a vegetarian main course it was a slice of tart as opposed to a separate little one. The portion was quite large and accompanied by a small side salad, dressed with what looked like a drizzle of mayonnaise. And boy, was I disappointed with that side salad, the mayonnaise had the creaminess of a home made variety but the dressing on the salad was so sharp and sour it was inedible. It was then I took notice of the tart, slices of potato, leek and cheese, it was piping hot (another of my foibles, has to be boiling hot), and the cheese was rapidly melting over the slices of potato and over the short crust walls. The taste was magnificent, forget the delicate tastes and aromas you hear in so many reviews, this had good strong flavours, the potato and leeks were excellently soft, and the pastry just golden and literally melted in your mouth. Happily would I have this for a main course! I swear Alan was going green with envy!
This boded well for the main course, and I wasnt disappointed, it was a confit of duck, on a bed of roasted beetroot with a red wine jus (Dont you just love these names?). It was a very large piece of duck, the skin excellently crisp and the duck inside in slightly pink and very succulent. Now Ive never, to my shame, had a beetroot, so I was a little pensive about this, my mum used to chuck them in salads and I really didnt fancy them. I, have however been missing out on quite a treat, beautifully soft, they had a distinct, mayhap slightly sour flavour. The jus was also excellent, the red wine flavours coming through excellently. But rather than overpowering the duck they complimented it perfectly. Definitely a hit.
So onto Alans, he forwent the starter saving his pennies for the dessert later. His main consisted of chicken in a cream sauce with tarragon and a pastry lid. It was a whopping portion, plenty of chicken chunks (for want of a better word!) which were a good size, the sauce was definitely cream, you could really taste the tarragon but it didnt overpower the sauce. If the duck hadnt been available then the chicken would have been a very welcome second. He was also quite impressed with the light and fluffy pastry top which did have a satisfying crunch to it.
Of course we also got a side dish of vegetables. One was a personal favourite of Alan being a potato, cream and cheese bake, there was plenty of cream and it was very nice, although I felt it could have done with a little garlic or perhaps stronger seasoning. The carrots were al dente, and very nice. The only disappointment was the broccoli in cheese sauce (plenty of nightmares coming my way!), there was about a spoonful of sauce at the bottom and a little shake of parmesan on the top. It definitely breached the Trades Description Act and would probably have been best left alone. Still that was the only complaint I had at that point.
All in all, a good mix of flavours, excellently cooked and not a single complaint from me!
Now to puddings! Of course I shouldnt have had one but I couldnt resist! Alan has the steamed treacle sponge with English custard, a really suetty pud with plenty of treacle, the English Custard looked like melted ice cream and apparently didnt taste much different. But as I absolutely detest treacle sponge there was no way I was going to pollute my mouth with it even for research purposes! However Alan described as absolutely fantastic, and thats a great honour coming from him.
Theoretically speaking I shouldnt have had a dessert but I decided to treat myself to one from the main menu for a fiver. Now I do think £5 is a little excessive for a pudding, so Im sure I was going to be impressed! I plumped for a chocolate, white chocolate and hazelnut parfait. Now Im not exactly sure what a parfait is supposed to be, but too me it just looked like layers of ice-cream on top of itself. An was, unfortunately, the only disappointment of the evening. Yeh, ok, it was ice cream (I presume), I dont expect it to be sloppy but this was absolutely rock hard, well the middle was anyway! It took me a good 20 minutes to eat it as I had to eat around the outside whilst waiting for it to defrost. It was such a chore that I forgot all about the delicious chocolaty flavours that availed my taste buds at first. But apart from that item there was absolutely nothing on the pudding menu I fancied.
Im not going to complain too much though, the food was good and the waitress we had was really nice. However I did leave feeling slightly cheated, the food just didnt excite me, not like Glasnost or Tamarind did. I wouldnt go so far as to say a gastronomic delight. I certainly dont think its up to awards standards so far.
The current menu is listed on their website (www.delmonico.com), but previous dishes have included the following: French Onion Soup with Gruyere Croutons, Salad of Duck Breast with Beetroot Salad, Lasagne of wild mushrooms, Blue Cheese and Thyme, Medallions of Pork with Creamed Leeks and Red Wine Sauce, Warm Chocolate Pudding with Fresh Cream and Homemade Maple Syrup and Pecan Ice Cream.
The menu also includes Soups, Cheeses, etc. Sounds a bit more interesting than when I was there.
I dont really know who to recommend Delmonico to, a family? Probably not, a party? Maybe, in the private dining room. I think the best people would probably be couples, especially for a first date ( quite cheap, impressive sounding dishes and no dark corners!) All I really can suggest is that you go along and try it yourself, have a look on their website first and have a look at the special offers they always have there.