The Brassmill Pub & Restaurant, Keynsham: Review

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The Brassmill Keynsham - Exterior

 

Please note: our food and drinks at The Brassmill were received free of charge (via a gift voucher sent in advance of the visit), 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.

 

Did you know that Keynsham’s first brass mills were opened in around 1706? No, neither did I until I started researching Vintage Inns pub and restaurant The Brassmill on Avon Mill Lane, where we were recently invited to check out the recent refurb and food menu.

Having reopened in November 2019, The Brassmill remains just as popular as before, with both drinkers and diners alike. In the winter, there are open fires to keep you cosy, while in the summer, the outdoor dining area is a great place to soak up the sun.

Inside, it’s got what I’d describe as a smart rustic feel to the place. Walk in and you’re immediately faced with the amply stocked, wood-panelled bar, with a vast amount of table seating both to the left and the right: it’s a huge place. With its exposed brickwork, wooden beams and contrasting painted walls, it’s a place that feels bang up to date, while remaining sympathetic to its roots.

 

The Brassmill Keynsham - Bar

The Brassmill Keynsham - Interior

 

It’s a great family-friendly place too: there were plenty of families with children of a range of ages sitting down to eat when we were there, and a number of wooden highchairs available. That family-friendliness extended to being presented with the children’s menu when we sat down, complete with activity sheet on the back, and a pot of crayons to keep nearly-2-year-old Oscar entertained while he waited for his food.

His food, which we ordered before our own meals, as we knew he’d get grumpy having to wait… We loved the way the children’s menu is designed: for £5.75, you can choose from 8 different main dishes, 4 veg options and 7 further sides to create a fully customised meal to suit all tastes.

For Oscar, we went for the beef burger, baked beans and skin-on fries. The baked beans were rapidly demolished, and he loved the chips, which luckily weren’t too salty (although I do question why places add extra salt to kids’ food). The burger, though, was a bit of a disappointment: it was incredibly thin, quite heavily seasoned and overcooked, while the toasted bun contained just tomato and lettuce – a little cheese or a choice of sauces would have made the whole thing a little more appealing.

 

The Brassmill Keynsham - Kids' Burger

 

The main menu is pretty comprehensive: both a la carte and set price menus, a separate vegan menu, and The Brassmill’s Sunday lunch offering. We decided to pass on the starters, thinking we’d go for dessert instead…and on the other side of the table, an order of fish and chips (£13.50) was eagerly awaited.

When it arrived, the batter on the fish looked a little anaemic, and it certainly needed more seasoning – and possibly cooking a little longer. The fish itself, though, was great: no bones, soft and meaty, and flaked well (and it was a hit with the toddler, too). The thick-cut chips, which claimed to be triple cooked, were pretty standard and could have again done with a slightly longer cooking time, although the portion was generous. The mushy peas? They were a hit, with a great texture and a surprisingly fresh flavour.

 

The Brassmill Keynsham - Fish and Chips

 

I decided to go vaguely healthy with my choice of the wheatberry, apple and cranberry salad (£11.50), adding halloumi for an extra £3. I loved the vibrancy of the colours, and the differing textures that the salad offered, with the wheatberries still nice and firm, soft roasted butternut squash and beetroot and slivers of fresh avocado, and the crunch of toasted mixed seeds. The halloumi was cooked well and still had its signature squeak, but even its saltiness wasn’t enough to detract from the overwhelming sweetness of the salad – it could done with fewer of the cranberries. I loved the zing of the soy, lime and chilli dressing, though, which really lifted the whole thing.

 

The Brassmill Keynsham - Wheatberry Apple and Cranberry Salad

 

Onto dessert, and it would have been criminal not to order anything for Oscar when kids’ desserts are priced at £1 each! We could have chosen a fruit ice lolly, a peach jelly or a bowl of ice cream…but instead went for the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream, which elicited shouts of “CHOCOLATE CAKE!” when it arrived at the table. Served warm, it was indeed more cake than brownie, but we liked the fact that it wasn’t overly, cloyingly sweet.

 

The Brassmill Keynsham - Kids' Brownie

The Brassmill Keynsham - Kids' Brownie 2

 

Our desserts, however, weren’t quite such a hit. The sticky toffee pudding (£5.95) looked fantastic: a good-sized portion, presented well. But unfortunately, like my banoffee pie (£6.95), it tasted as though it had been bought in. There was a decent amount of custard, but it was very weak with very little creaminess or flavour, while the pudding itself was sticky and decadent, but the texture suggested that it had been microwaved. The salted butterscotch sauce was the best bit, sweet and sticky and just salty enough.

The banoffee pie suffered similarly: the base tasted fairly stale, while the sweetened whipped cream had a bit of an artificial flavour. The toffee fudge centre and the caramelised bananas, though, were delicious.

 

The Brassmill Keynsham - Sticky Toffee Pudding

 

The Brassmill Keynsham - Banoffee Pie

 

We’d probably go back if in the area: it’s a beautifully decorated pub with plenty of space, and one that suits all seasons. Service was friendly and professional throughout, and our waitress was great with Oscar – a good sign of a truly family-friendly place to eat. The food was pretty average, but the pub is a busy, buzzy place that is clearly popular with local clientele.

On a final note, be warned – The Brassmill uses ANPR recognition, so if you don’t input your registration number into one of the machines inside the pub when you arrive, you could be hit with a hefty fine. There’s a huge sign outside the pub stating this, but it would be handy for bar staff to check with customers that they have done so to avoid any issues.

 

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