“ Bringing you exclusive recipes directly from the Caribbean, the food served at Plantation reflects the marriage of flavours and cooking techniques from different parts of the world. The intermingling and wonderful mix of the various cultures is an important factor in the array of cuisine served. „
The food was very expensive (£19 pp for buffet) and it wasn't clear before we went in that they were doing buffet only. We asked upon leaving and they said they do buffet at the weekend and that the menu could be ordered from if they aren't too busy. However the waiter seemed unsure if Friday was included in the Weekend.We knew the normal menu was expensive from looking in the window, but the buffet pushed the cost much higher for a much lesser experience.Add on drinks and you're stuck with a huge bill. Food was good but variety was low and price was way too high for what you get. Live music was interesting, but artists were not in-time and experienced feedback with the audio system.Not recommended until they come back down to planet earth.
Regular readers will know or realise that I like my food a lot! And not only do I love it, I love it even more when someone else cooks it for me! Oh I can cook, very well in fact but I do all the cooking because my partner cant, so sometimes I like sitting back with a drink and getting it delivered to me on a plate.
I'm sure I've mentioned before that our local paper does a deal whereby you collect 4 tokens and two of you get lunch for a fiver or dinner for 8 quid. Theres a set list of restaurants and a set menu. This way we get to try some of the best and unusual restaurants in Bristol without forking out a fortune if its crap! I'm a winner whatever!
This is how we ended up at Plantation on the Gloucester Rd in Bristol, in this spot have been several restaurants that have been rated fantastic but have all gone under in months. A jinxed position perhaps? Could be, but I think its more a lot more to do with the fact theres absolutely no parking to be found. The surrounding streets are densely populated so be sure to leave at least 15 minutes to find a parking space and walk back to the place.
Its quite nice in Plantation, very open and spacious, lots of white paint and wooden tables broken up with large potted plants and Caribbean-influenced paintings on the wall. Dare I say a little plain? The atmosphere was quite lacking, even with your ears being entertained by reggae music. Perhaps the fact that only two other tables were occupied didn't help. With the tables so far apart cosiness is not a factor here.
As I've said we've got the vouchers so we get to choose from the set menu, well I say choose, that's not entirely true as there were only 3 main dishes to choose from. These happened to be vegetable curry, curry goat and chicken curry. Now I'm sure they were all excellent but I can get them all from my local chippy. I wanted something a little 'authentic' so it was the main menu and more expensive prices for us.
We order our obligatory drinks whilst perusing the menu, and managed to get several shocks! The drinks list is very expensive, I cant remember individual prices as we were drinking soft drinks, but the soft drinks were £2 each! Ah well, couldn't run out now so got 2 Lilts ( being adventurous here!), then came the other shock. I can honestly say I have never and never have since been served a drink in a plastic bottle with a glass! You know those 500ml ones you get in the newsagents? Yep, one of those! Considering how much drink you get the price wasn't too bad, but if this restaurant wants to be a bit more upmarket and serious they may well have to change this.
How would I get my food? In a McDonalds Burger Box?, a take-away foil tray? Only time will tell!
So I'm for the Ackee & Salt Fish with Johnny Cake(dumpling) at £.4.95 and Alans gone for the lamb Cocktail Patties at £3.15 for our starters.
I've never had Ackee & Salt Fish before, but I was impressed, the Ackee (a fruit) really does look like scrambled eggs and the texture is reminiscent of the same, there was also plenty of salt fish as well. I'm quite unsure as to what I was expecting, but it wasn't as spicy and tasty as I expected it to be, it was actually quite mild but I wouldn't go as far as to say it was bland.
Alans Patties had a bit more of a kick to them, certainly the sweet chilli sauce bought tears to my eyes! I do absolutely enjoy patties and travel over to St Pauls just to buy them on regular occasions. Being the stingy person I can be I couldn't help but consider that I could have bought 4 big patties for the price we paid for this smaller one. Sorry, its a horrible habit of mine in restaurants, I cant help but compare when I get in restaurant to what I could buy in Asda!
You can also go for Peppered Shrimp, Aloo Balls or Salt Fish Fritters
Having dispensed swiftly with that, then we're on to the main course, I had a little more difficulty here, a little, not much! You can get a main course version of Ackee and Salt Fish, whole snapper and Brown Stew Fish. Maybe half a Jerk Chicken or BBQ Chicken, all of which ranged from £7.25 to £9.95 for the fish. Not that we had any of those, we both opted for Brown Stew Chicken. Alan just saw the word gravy and that was enough for him!
Annoyingly absolutely none of these come with any side dishes, vegetables, rice, etc, you have to pay for them all separately, which when you've just forked out nearly £8 for a main course can bump the price up considerably, and its just stingy!
So we had Rice and Peas, which surprisingly was rice and kidney beans cooked with coconut cream, thyme, ginger and scallion (£2.60), but no peas, and Sweet potato (£2.60) which I love. This is where you find the real Caribbean stuff, Yams, Plantain, Bammy, etc. I do think £2.00 for steamed cabbage or carrots is a little on the expensive side though!
Enough moaning, its here! And it looks good! Plenty of chunks of chicken and a wonderfully thick gravy that smells fantastic and plenty of it! The side dishes were also on the large side, unfortunately I didn't like the Rice and Peas, hate kidney beans, do awful things to my digestive system! I was a little confused by the sweet potato, only because it was white, every sweet potato I've had before the flesh has been red or pink. Perhaps I just haven't come across the type or perhaps I got Yams by mistake, either way they were so cooked they were almost mash. Just perfect for dribbling that gravy over! If Alan had a spoon he would have supped the gravy up!
What may put some people off is the fact that the chicken is on the bone, that is to say the chicken is just chopped up, topped and unfeathered as it is and chucked in to cook. Needless to say you then have to watch out for bones in your food. But it wasn't really a problem, I've had worse things in my food!
Did we want a dessert? Tough, they don't actually do any, and to be honest I cant think of any Caribbean desserts anyway!
Oh and course I should mention that our food was indeed served on plates and in bowls, not foil trays! The service was really good, but then they were not exactly rushed off their feet so had time to be attentive. The fact that the kitchen is open plan and the head chef is also the owner means she can see everything they are doing!
Did I enjoy it? Well yes, I did, but I cant say it was the most spectacular meal I've ever had, probably worth the money. Are we going back? Nope, I've tasted what I wanted to and theres nothing else on the menu that makes me want to return any time soon, good if you fancy a change though.
Myself, I think I'll stick to the usual patties and wait for the Ashton Court festival when a Caribbean take away from St Pauls has a huge stall up there and treat myself to their very good, very spicy Blackened Chicken!
223 Cheltenham Rd