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A new choice of venue for this week’s pre-pub quiz meal, this time bar and restaurant The Urban Wood on Colston Street. Formerly known as The Wild Wood, this two room venue saw a change of name at the back end of 2010.

‘We are completely independent, stock interesting beers & wines, make tasty traditional cocktails and good honest food’, proclaims their website. It’s a cosy-yet-sophisticated venue: Chesterfield sofas jostle for space with rustic wooden tables, pictures and fairy lights adorn the walls, candles with mounds of dried wax on the sides sit at one end of the bar, and each table features a mini goldfish bowl containing a single red flower. It certainly looks smart and stylish, but without the stuffy, snooty atmosphere that you’d possibly expect on first impressions…

The menu makes you feel equally at home. Prices may be on the high side for a bar (starters around £5 to £9, mains priced at the £9 to £15 mark), but look down to the bottom of the menu and you’ll see that all food is prepared and served to order, so longer cooking times than normal may be expected. No mass-produced pub food here.

In addition to the main menu, there are boards up in The Urban Wood that advertise their tapas dishes (the likes of hummus, ciabatta, olives, marinated anchovies and a selection of cured meats, all priced between £2.50 and £4.50), plus the daily changing dessert list.

We decided to choose from the main menu – I was swayed by the fish pie, priced at £10 and including ‘selected fish’ which changes regularly. On the night, it was the selection of salmon and smoked haddock that made my decision for me.

The pie arrived in a simple white dish, and was topped with chopped parsley and a wedge of lemon. The first thing that struck me was the amount of cheese on the top – it was a pretty thick layer! Underneath this, however, was a beautiful fish pie: a layer of creamy and perfectly smooth mash sitting on top of the fish, which was cooked well and full of flavour. Interestingly, the fish pie also contained tarragon leaves, which added a beautiful flavour, and a nice amount of black pepper to add a bit of spice. Pub food at its best.

Laura gave way to her steak craving, going for the Newton Farm sirloin with tapenade and a rocket and Parmesan salad (£14.95). On asking whether the steak came with any sides, we were given some information that wasn’t on the menu…the steaks are a whopping 12oz each. Funnily enough she decided, on hearing that, that she probably didn’t need a side order after all…

Having asked for her steak rare, she seemed pretty pleased with the way it was cooked, and both the steak and the heap of rocket and Parmesan salad quickly disappeared. Unfortunately a dislike of peppers meant that she had to leave the ‘tapenade’ – a bit of a different take on the traditional olive, anchovy and caper paste common in the south of France. Instead of the usual black-ish paste, her steak was accompanied by a mound of chopped olives, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and onions, which tasted lovely and fresh but wasn’t at all tapenade-like!

Being in a rush, we skipped dessert (all priced at £4.75), although the lime and coconut cheesecake sounded very tempting. According to the website, the dessert menu changes daily, so unfortunately I doubt it’ll be on the list on our next visit!

We’d managed to find ourselves a 25% off mains voucher on Vouchercloud, so presented this at the bar – taking our bill to £18.71 for the two mains. Drinks weren’t badly priced either for a place like this: £3.30 for a pint of Stowford Press, and £5 for a large glass of house white. An enjoyable meal, without a doubt, and we’ll definitely be paying the Urban Wood a return visit.

The Urban Wood

Website: http://www.theurbanwood.com

Telephone: 0117 929 3627

Address: 90 Colston Street, Bristol BS1 5BB

Find The Urban Wood on the Bristol Bites Directory…

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