The amount of time I've been spending at The Old Bookshop has become a bit of a running joke between my friends and I lately. But when your local is this bloody brilliant, can you really blame me?!
They opened their doors back in 2011, and since I moved back to Bedminster 4 years ago, it has been one of my favourite local haunts for a G&T, some sharing plates, or their infamous roast dinner.
The gin still looks the same, but the food has had a complete overhaul thanks to a brand new permanent head chef!
Those monthly pop-up kitchens are gone - for now anyway, I heard on the grapevine that there may be a plan for those.. - and now they have an exciting menu created by Alex Bluett - you may recognise the name from Forage & Fire and Friska!
On the menu, you'll still find small plates, but there's also a bunch of larger plates, including a special on the blackboard. There's also the new addition of daily brunch, and the roast looks a little different.
Of course, in the name of research, I HAD to try everything. Here's what I ate, and here's what I thought..
First up, my friend Sian and I were invited in one chilly Friday evening to try a selection of the small plates. Being the type of girls who will eat pretty much anything that is put in front of us, we just asked for "whatever Alex wants to give us." Classy.
Out came some very beautiful plates of food. Even the chips looked cute.
• Pork cheek, apple & celeriac remoulade, crackling
• Ewe's curd, fig & honey vinaigrette, crisp breads
• Brown shrimp, mace butter, radish shoots, parmesan grits
• Beetroot falafel, curried aubergine, chilli yoghurt, challah bread
• Triple cooked chips, cheddar, 1000 island
And oh boy, it was all as good as it looked.
Pork and apple is always a winning combination, especially when there's the addition of incredibly crisp crackling - no disappointing chewiness here - and the meat itself was so succulent.
We both loved the ewe's curd - it was so light and creamy, and the fig was the perfect sweet accompaniment. Falafel is always a favourite of mine, and this one being made with beetroot meant it had a soft pink centre, and a slightly sweet taste which was lovely with the chilli yoghurt. The brown shrimp was the prettiest dish by far.
And don't mention the 1000 island next time you see Sian, because she is obsessed.
The very next morning, in fact, I went back with some of my blog chums to see what this new brunch menu was all about.
I could've eaten everything that was on offer - that may have something to do with the amount of gin I drank the night before - but between us we chose the Bookshop fry up, veggie fry up, fennel sausage & sweetcorn hash, and granola with berries.
Again, all very beautiful. Let's just take a moment to appreciate those perfectly poached eggs.
Firstly, I was very happy to see kale on our plates - you may already know about my poached egg & kale obsession. Secondly, the flavours. Those beans, man. And the potatoes! Not to mention the great quality meat & bread. This is next level brunching.
And finally, Sunday lunch.
The Old Bookshop are renowned for their roasts - every Sunday they are packed full, so it is a very good idea to book if you want to get in.
Alex was a little worried about changing the roast menu, as it was so loved by many, but he has blown all other roasts out of the water with this one. It's still a very traditional roast, but a little fancier.
The first thing that struck me about it was the colour. The vibrant greens and pinks, and hello there beetroot! You get a huge dish of veggies that we couldn't quite make our way through, as well as delicious gravy and cauliflower cheese.
I can't tell you how happy I am that he added cauliflower cheese to the menu.
I chose the lamb - which was the softest, tastiest meat of all time - which came atop a lovely bright green salsa verde, my friend James had the pork belly with apple puree and pickled red cabbage.
Despite feeling pretty full, those desserts sounded too damn good to miss out on. And as I said before - this was purely research, not greed at all..
A classic apple and blackberry crumble in a jar topped with vanilla ice cream, and a chocolate & malt brownie with salted caramel cream. Those golden flakes of salted caramel were just as magical as they looked.
We then had to roll ourselves home, and lie down forever. Worth it.
So those are my thoughts on The Old Bookshop's new menu - when are you going to try it for yourself?
There's also lots of exciting things in the pipeline for them, including getting Psychopomp in to run the cocktail bar by the end of the month! That's definitely one not to miss.
• some of this food was provided for review, thank you very much to Ben & Alex! •
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