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Trying to balance an attempt at budgeting with a desire to eat out at places that I’ve not yet tried is proving to be tricky. Luckily, however, sites such as Vouchercloud are at hand to make nights out cheaper! After spotting a “2 for 1 on mains” voucher the other night, we decided to try out the Kiln Restaurant at the Ramada Bristol City Hotel

Set in the shell of a 17th century kiln once used for making Bristol glass, the restaurant is tastefully decorated, with original brickwork exposed and food-related paintings adorning the walls. The dining area is situated on two levels, and on the night we were shown to a table on the higher of the two, the lower level having already been set for breakfast.

The menu is pretty varied, combining English classics with a range of dishes from around the world. You’ll be looking at spending between around £22 and £35 for a three course meal. A set menu priced at £22 for three courses changes regularly, with dishes from this menu also available a la carte, priced at £5 for starters and desserts, and £12 for main courses. In addition, the restaurant offers a daily special for each course, as well as a soup of the day.

I opted for one of the starters from the set menu: garlic mushrooms with toasted focaccia (£5), while Laura chose her prawn and crayfish platter dressed with Marie Rose sauce (£5) from the daily specials list. After ordering, our waiter brought over a board with two varieties of bread roll…which were unceremoniously dumped on our side plates without a choice being offered. A little surprising.

Starters, when they arrived, were well-presented and decently portioned. I was more than happy with my choice: rich, earthy mushrooms served on top of a generous chunk of beautifully soft and doughy focaccia, accompanied by a small side salad and drizzled with basil dressing and a balsamic reduction. Laura was equally happy with her seafood starter, although noted that they could have been more generous with the Marie Rose sauce.

Next up, a Lamb Wellington with bacon and mushroom served with boulangere potatoes and creamed spinach (£18.75) that we’d both been eyeing up on the restaurant’s menu earlier on in the day. It didn’t look like the most appealing plate of food when it arrived at our table – a huge Wellington each with an undecorated and very anaemic-looking pastry crust, a shame after the beautiful starters.

The pastry itself was delicious, flaky and buttery and not at all stodgy. Unfortunately, however, the lamb was pretty overcooked – so tough and chewy that we both apologetically sent our food back.

Full credit to the member of staff who dealt with the problem: after offering us an alternative main, which we declined, she suggested a complimentary dessert or coffee each, and was genuinely apologetic. As we were already getting a discounted meal thanks to Vouchercloud, we didn’t want to rock the boat too much, so ordered a cheese plate (normally £6.75) to share between the two of us.

This consisted of three cheeses, served with biscuits, salad, celery, grapes and an amazing onion chutney. We managed to establish that one of the cheeses was Applewood Smoked Cheddar, but after sending our (rather surly) waiter off to find out what the other two were, he reappeared from the kitchen to tell us that one was “blue cheese” and that he hadn’t understood what the kitchen had told him…

Service continued in the same vein after our plates were cleared, waiting for 15 minutes for one of the three members of staff that night to emerge so that we could pay the bill. Eventually we gave up and headed over to the front desk of the restaurant, where the guy who had initially greeted us was engrossed in his Blackberry.

We settled up to the dulcet tones of Britney Spears – the conclusion to an evening of music as diverse as The Beatles, U2, Justin Timberlake and Queen…

Overall, a bit of a mixed night. The starters, the cheese and the setting were fantastic, but were let down by the mains, the service and the soundtrack, not to mention the temperature of the room, which was quite chilly! I’d probably head back to try them out again…but I’m not sure whether I’d do so without a voucher…

Kiln Restaurant, Ramada Bristol City Hotel

Website: http://www.ramadajarvis.co.uk/hotels/bristol/dining.aspx

Address: Redcliffe Way, Bristol, BS1 6NJ

Telephone: 0844 815 9100

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