Primrose Cafe Pig Dinner, June 20th: Review

Pig dinners seem to be popular in Bristol at the moment! After attending the first Castellano’s All Things Pig dinner, I unfortunately wasn’t able to make the second. So, when an email appeared in my inbox inviting me to the Primrose Cafe‘s celebration of the animal, we booked our table immediately…

Perhaps better known for its breakfasts than its dinners, this cafe, tucked away in Boyces Avenue in Clifton Village, is spread over two floors with a small outside seating area. It’s a lovely quiet area in which to enjoy an evening meal…apart from the car/building alarm that was a background accompaniment to most of the evening!

Snatches of overheard conversation at the end of our meal suggested that they are aiming to run evenings like this on a regular basis, so make sure that you’re signed up to their mailing list to keep up-to-date with what they’re planning…

The premise of the evening was simple: four courses, all of which (bar dessert, of course) were pig-based, and each of which could be accompanied – for a reasonable £15 per head, if desired – by a glass of wine selected by Raj Soni of Bristol-based RS Wines.

As we munched on the grissini and still-warm pork crackling that was on our table when we arrived, we whetted our appetites by looking at the menu and also the wine list (or ‘swine flight’!) which persuaded Laura that she should abandon her plan of not drinking and test out Raj’s matches instead.

The charcuterie platter was what we were most looking forward to on the night, and it didn’t disappoint. The accompaniments arrived at the table first: a basket of fresh bread from Mark’s Bread, and a plate of pickles…

Pickled gooseberries and pickled raspberries, a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce and an intriguingly-flavoured mango chutney were all delicious, but did somewhat overpower the various elements of the charcuterie platter. I ended up mopping most of them up with the bread while I enjoyed the meat on its own…

The platter itself was a wonderful demonstration of the versatility of the pig. A sweet and sticky cube of char sui pork belly, rich and meaty croquettes of head, a delicate Parma ham-style air-dried Duroc, wholegrain mustard coated smoked ham, liver sausage on wafer thin toast and a generous slice of pulled pork shoulder all contributed their own flavours and textures. The char sui was by far the standout element of the dish for me.

Onto the next course of a skewered scallop wrapped in Duroc pancetta, squid and chorizo. Lovely. The squid was perfectly cooked, not at all rubbery and was slightly crispy round the edges which added a nice contrast. The chorizo and scallop were both cooked well and full of flavour, the only slight shame being that my pancetta was still fairly soft rather than crispy, and so lacked the depth of flavour that I was expecting.

In our opinion, the main course of roast loin of Berkshire with fennel and rosemary, new potatoes and seasonal vegetables was slightly disappointing compared with the previous two courses. While the pork was cooked well and came attached to yet more delicious, salty crackling, the potatoes were a little on the cold side and the presentation was completely at odds with what we had seen before. It could also have done with a sauce of some description to liven it up a bit.

Dessert made up for it, though – a sundae glass crammed with chunks of meringue, raspberry sorbet, cream and seasonal berries. Very retro but delicious, fresh and a welcome reminder that it IS summer, despite the weather!

At only £25 per head for the food and £15 for the optional wine flight (which Laura assures me was matched very well with each of the courses, I’d say that the evening was very good value for money. The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed, although the tables were very close together on the night. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the mailing list for their next evening event…

Find Primrose Cafe and Bistro on the Bristol Bites Directory…

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