18 June 2014

The Glassboat

Review of the Glassboat restaurant in Bristol by Avon GorgedHow do you feel about restaurants on boats? I've thought about this a lot recently (I know, get a life). I used to associate them with slightly weird cafés and dodgy seafood. Admittedly I think this must stem from the ropey one in my home town. But I really haven’t had a great experience thus far.

Thankfully Bristol is awash (haha) with boat restaurants, none of them ropey. And I had the pleasure of visiting Glassboat a couple of weeks ago with my family. I can report it was neither slightly weird nor dodgy. 

In fact, it pretty much smashed it out of the park. Or harbour. Marina? Oh, you get my drift.

At this point in my review I would normally describe the restaurant a little, but the name Glassboat really does give you the idea.  On the day in question the miserable Bristol rain had thankfully given way to a beautiful evening, and there was no better way to enjoy it than eating at Glassboat. It really is a lovely spot.

Review of the Glassboat restaurant in Bristol by Avon Gorged
Scallops with Bayonne ham
A sister restaurant to the Lido in Clifton, Glassboat offers all day dining, with a particularly reasonably early bird dinner which I've heard is more than worth the early start. The menu has a strong French influence, and the wine list almost exclusively so. Saying that, there’s still plenty of variety depending on your taste and a fair amount are available by the glass.

Starters on offer all appealed and certainly hit the French classics with a bang. Snails and steak tartare both made an appearance, and I got myself in a terrible bother about what to choose. I’d already decided on a main of guinea fowl which came served with tortellini. The snail starter was served with ravioli. It is socially acceptable to have pasta for starter and main? I decided it was a step too far.

Review of the Glassboat restaurant in Bristol by Avon Gorged
The Guinea Fowl
Instead, I opted for scallops with Bayonne ham and charred cauliflower which were superb and left me wondering why we don’t just char everything. The snails received a good response from my father, despite him not reading the menu properly and thinking he would be getting a risotto.

My guinea fowl main was almost as good as I wanted it to be, the only let down being the slightly overcooked meat and a slightly off meat to sauce ratio. Flavour-wise though, it was spot on. I’ll admit that the duck dish did give rise to a bit of food envy in me, especially when I nabbed some of the croquette made from the leg. But that’s why you have a partner who always orders a different main to you.

The halibut with crab and cucumber salsa however was declared the dish of the day, proving that this boat restaurant certainly doesn't do dodgy seafood. It got full marks from my Mum – well-known for not being a big fan of French cooking (“it’s just all that rich sauce”).

Review of the Glassboat restaurant in Bristol by Avon Gorged
Said cheeseboard
If there’s one piece of advice I offer to you upon your trip to Glassboat (for you will go now, I'm sure), it is to order the cheeseboard. Don’t be a loser and think you can only have pudding or cheese. You can have both. But if you are a weak of constitution, then I would opt for the cheese. It was perfect. Just an excellent example of how to do a cheeseboard. And the Camembert? Oh my…

Puddings were good, but there was one main disappointment; the pineapple tarte tatin. I bullied my sister into ordering it for two reasons. Firstly, it was served with coconut ice-cream, and she’s a big fan of a pina colada. Secondly, Glassboat is a French restaurant and where better to order a tarte tatin?

Review of the Glassboat restaurant in Bristol by Avon Gorged
Chocolate Delice
I will admit now that I got this one wrong. Or rather, the restaurant did. The combination was right, but the pastry was flabby and undercooked. There was none of that sticky caramel edge you would expect, more a ring of pineapple with some caramel sauce. A bit of a disappointment for a French restaurant.

The chocolate delice with salted caramel ice-cream was a hit for me, even if it put my Dad into a slight sugar coma. That is, to be clear, completely his fault. And I helped out those that couldn't finish theirs, just to be kind. I guess it was a little big but come off it, I’m not going to complain about that. The elderflower panna cotta with gooseberries however was perhaps the best choice of all...said my Mum...behind her big smug, elderflowery grin.

So a totally new boat restaurant experience for me. No sign of scampi and no plastic tablecloths. Just solid French cooking, good service and a beautiful view. I think I might be a convert.

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