Friday night saw the launch of another new restaurant in Bristol: Stokes Croft’s The Runcible Spoon. Situated on the old Cafe Kino site on Ninetree Hill, the restaurant aims to serve “affordable, high quality Modern British food”. We headed down there on opening night to check it out…
The Runcible Spoon aim to serve seasonal food, all from local, small-scale producers. The team behind the restaurant also own an acre of farmland just outside Bristol, with co-op members and volunteers working to provide the restaurant with fresh, organic produce, aiming to become pretty much self-sufficient in the future.
I never visited the old Cafe Kino, but I was told that the venue has changed a lot since those days. The front door leads into a small waiting area, with the open kitchen straight ahead. The dining area is in the basement, with two small, cosy rooms with dining tables and original features for the diners.
It was a tight squeeze in the basement, our table of eight sandwiched between the wall and another table, but the atmosphere was relaxed and fun. The opening night featured a multi-course menu at £25 per head, so no choices needed to be made, except by any vegetarians or those with special diets.
Drinks orders first: local ale (Butcombe), cider (Burrow Hill) and ginger and lemon cordial for some, and wine (a choice of one red and one white) for the other diner. Shortly after our drinks arrived, we were presented with our first course: a rich black pudding Scotch egg, filled with chopped, hardboiled egg. This was served with a homemade tomato and chilli jam, and accompanied by purple sprouting broccoli and Hollandaise.
This was followed by a small cup of wild garlic and almond soup: a lovely, thick soup with a strong almond flavour and not too overpowering wild garlic. Delicious.
Our starter of a large bowl of steaming River Fowey mussels was accompanied by a sauce of cider, cream and large chunks of salty bacon. Too salty for one member of our party, but the rest of us demolished the dish…including all of the generous portion of sauce left at the bottom of the bowl. “Better than the mussels at Côte”, declared one member of our group. I’d be inclined to agree.
This meal really was great value for money price-wise. The main course was huge! Two melt-in-the-mouth chunks of braised flank of beef, served on a huge mound of perfectly seasoned horseradish mash, and accompanied by kale and the hugest carrots I’ve ever seen! Our non-beef eater enjoyed a Stichelton and purple sprouting broccoli tart, which she enjoyed but said was a little salty for her tastes.
Dessert was the only course with a choice of two dishes. Bizarrely, all of the boys opted for the poached pears with chocolate sauce and honeycomb, and the girls for the “trinity creme” – a vanilla-flecked creme brulee with a perfectly crisp topping, and served with crumbly cardamom shortbread – I could smell the cardamom as soon as the plate was set down in front of me, but the flavour wasn’t overly intense and complimented the brulee perfectly.
For my meal, plus half a jug of cider and service charge, I paid only £30: an absolute bargain. Despite the fact that it was opening night, everything seemed to be flowing smoothly, and the food was fantastic. I’ll definitely head back here to eat again, and look forward to seeing how these guys get on!