Racks Bar & Kitchen, Clifton: July 2016 Review

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Grace, aka Girl in Bristol, goes to review Racks Bar & Kitchen. Find all of her reviews for Bristol Bites here


Found below the Clifton Hotel in the place of their old wine cellars, Racks Bar & Kitchen falls somewhere between a gastropub and a bar in nature and style. With the majority of the venue being underground with low ceilings, exposed brick fireplaces and various little nooks and crannies to explore, Racks has a really relaxed, homey feel. After opening over 30 years ago, Racks has undergone waves of transformation over the years, mixing up their menu and also adding a large patio area where they host BBQs in the summer.

Racks has always been a popular spot for university students and professionals who work in the area, particularly given their £2.50 Prosecco deal and other weekly offers including their 2-4-1 burgers on a Monday and steak Thursdays. We were invited to pop by for a spot of dinner last Thursday night.

Arriving at half 6, during an Euro 2016 quarter final match, Racks was bustling with activity. Out the front on the patio, groups of friends and colleagues were sat at picnic tables sipping on wine and admiring the sights and smells of the Racks BBQ which was in full swing. Inside, there were couples and larger groups perched near the bar or in the dining area set up further back. Our table for two was tucked away towards the back of the venue, away from the busyness of the bar. Racks was a little bit of a maze with lots of little pockets of space, but the layout did help keep things cosy and intimate which was lovely.


Racks - Interior


With a glass of house rosé in hand, my plus 1 and I perused through the menu as our attentive waitress tended to her other tables. All the typical favourites were on there: risotto, steak and chips, club sandwiches and fajitas but there was also an extensive selection of pies to choose from too. After a lot of deliberation, we placed our orders and waited for our mains to arrive.

First to the table was Barbara’s battered Cornish cod with hand-cut Maris Piper chips, tartare sauce and pea purée (£13.95) and our side of herby Maris piper chips and smoked paprika aioli (£3.50). Before we’d even taken a bite, we were already in awe of the presentation of Barbara’s fish and chips. Normally, I’m an advocate of having everything served on plates but in this case the large wooden board with a mini fryer filled with chips and topped with the glorious piece of battered fish looked great. I also loved the fish-and-chippy style paper which read “The Daily Catch” in newspaper form.


Racks - Fish and Chips


My pigeon breast main (£13.50) looked just as good, two seared pigeon breasts sat above a colourful mound of asparagus, halloumi, broad beans and spinach. There were also a couple of bright yellow flowers placed around the edges to give the plate an extra pop of colour.


Racks - Pigeon


The cod was cooked perfectly. The crispy, golden batter encased a large piece of fish which fell away at the stroke of a fork. The tartare sauce added an extra level of flavour to the dish with a slightly sharp aftertaste and the chips, well, they were just sublime. I was certainly glad we’d ordered an extra portion of chips or I may have ended up pinching one, or several, of Barbara’s. The smoked paprika aioli dip had some heat to it too which gave the dip a bit of a twist.


Racks - Chips


The pigeon breast was the only slight disappointment really. Though it had a delightful gamey flavour which worked well with the fresh greens and mild halloumi, it was pretty tough to cut through and to eat.

We had a lovely time at Racks: the service was attentive though not overbearing, the food was delivered quickly despite the busyness of the restaurant and everything on the menu was very reasonably priced. If you’re looking for a cosy meal out with lots of options to choose from and good food without a large bill at the end, Racks is certainly worth the visit. I’ll definitely pop back there again, if for nothing else than to try out their extensive pie selection.


Please note: our meal was received free of charge, but this in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.


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