I’ve been meaning to try the food at Racks Bar & Kitchen for a while – partly because the pies have been recommended to me by a few people, and partly because I’ve had some lovely chats with them via Twitter. Even better, there’s an offer on Vouchercloud for 2 for 1 main courses (cheapest main free, with the voucher costing £1.79). We headed down there on a sunny midweek evening to enjoy both the food and a drink outside in the sun on their terrace…
Situated on St Paul’s Road, Racks is situated underneath The Clifton Hotel and (according to Vouchercloud) actually used to be the hotel’s coal cellars. We stuck to the terrace, but the inside of the venue is a warren of rooms and individual areas, each of which can be booked for events and hospitality functions.
While we browsed the menu, we ordered our drinks. This is a Clifton venue charging Clifton prices – at £2 for half a pint of Ashton Press cider and £6 for a large glass of house wine, it’s not cheap…
The menu is fairly extensive, and predominantly British with a number of Mediterranean-influenced dishes. It was one such dish that we chose as our starter: an antipasti board of meats, cheese, breads and marinated vegetables (£7.25 for one, £12 for two).
Our starter arrived on a wooden board and was beautifully presented. Highlights for me were the soft, herbed bread, the huge caper berries and the sundried tomato paste (not on the menu, so a nice bonus!) that was heaped onto a ceramic spoon at the side of the board.
Sadly, our board appeared to be missing the chorizo that the menu had promised, and the Parmesan and herb crostini were a little burnt and missing the herbs. An enjoyable starter overall, but I’m not sure it was worth the £12 that we paid for it…
Onto the mains, and Laura had ordered the balsamic beef, red onion and pepper brochette with a new potato, asparagus, cherry tomato and tarragon salad (£9.50). Despite asking for the peppers not to be included, they were still very much there when the plate of food arrived – our waitress did come out to apologise halfway through the meal, though, telling us that she had relayed this to the kitchen when we ordered.
Unfortunately the beef was quite tough and chewy, so a lot of Laura’s main was left untouched, and only one of the two brochettes included the advertised red onion which was a little odd.
Having heard good things about the pies, I decided to go for the tarragon chicken, wild mushroom and bacon variety (£7.95), advertised as being served with seasonal vegetables. I was a little disappointed with the vegetables – baby carrots and green beans swimming in butter – but the pie itself was lovely. The puff pastry top was crisp on top yet still fluffy in the middle, and was cut open to reveal generous quantities of chicken, bacon and mushrooms. It’s easy to overpower a dish with too much tarragon but Racks got it just right. Lovely.
We didn’t stay for dessert – we’d eaten too much, I had somewhere else to be, and we were keen to get off the terrace after dodging wasps during our main courses! Instead we headed inside to the bar to pay our bill, and were greeted by a very friendly and chatty barman – you really can’t fault the enthusiasm and general demeanour of the staff in this place.
We may have had some disappointments on the night, but the pie was the star of the show for me. I don’t think it’s a place where I’d drink regularly, but I’d be keen to go back and try one of their £5 lunches, or head over for the “buy one get one free” offer on burgers on Monday nights, which look to be pretty good value for money…
Racks Bar & Kitchen
Telephone: 0117 974 1626
Address: St Pauls Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1LX
Find Racks Bar & Kitchen on the Bristol Bites Directory…