Ever since I started Bristol Bites, The Kensington Arms in Redland has been somewhere that I’ve been told I must visit. Embarrassingly, I started the blog in January 2010, but didn’t manage to visit until August 2011 for a quiet Monday night meal…
The self-described ‘pub & kitchen’ is located in a quiet residential area of Redland on Stanley Road. On the night that I paid them my first visit, there was a lively buzz from the customers sitting outside on the terrace (although I’m told it was quiet compared with what it’s normally like!), and it felt almost like a little village pub rather than one in the heart of a big city.
The inside of the pub is similarly comfortable: the first room you walk through hosting the bar and acting as a room for drinkers, the second room for diners. The liveliness from outside was no different in here, The Kenny was pretty busy for a Monday night and the chatter of fellow diners, candlelit tables and the open plan kitchen at the far end made for a relaxed and cosy dining experience.
‘Classic British food’ is how The Kensington Arms describes the contents of its regularly changing menu, created by head chef Liam Cooper. On the night, we were presented with a refreshingly concise menu, consisting of just five starters (£6-£8.50), six mains (£12-£18) and six desserts (£4-£6.50). All of their food is sourced locally and organic where possible, and their website is keen to point out that everything is made in-house. And it was also good to see much more exciting vegetarian options on the menu than you’ll find in most places.
We decided to treat ourselves to starters – in Laura’s case, the potted Cornish crab with avocado salsa and melba toast (£8.50). Attractively-presented on a wooden board, the glass jar contained a guacamole-style avocado concoction, topped with a layer of dark then a layer of white crab meat. ‘Very fresh tasting’ summed up her opinion of her starter.
For me, the smoked haddock risotto cake (£6.95), dense and rich and with just the right amount of smoked fish and topped with spinach and a perfectly formed poached hen’s egg. A generous helping of beurre blanc added a vinegary flavour to the smokiness of the fish that contrasted perfectly.
For her main, Laura ordered the roasted salmon with chive mash, samphire and horseradish sauce (£14.95) – I was tempted to order the same, purely for the samphire! Beautiful presentation once again, with the salmon and a quenelle of mash sitting on top of the greens – it was just a pity that the salmon skin had been damaged while cooking. The fish itself was very lightly cooked, which Laura was happy with but others may not have enjoyed.
It was the roast breast of corn-fed chicken (£12.95) that stood out to me in the list of main courses. Corn featured elsewhere in the dish too, with the huge breast of skin-on chicken sitting on a bed of polenta. These were served with a variety of wild mushrooms, combined with sweetcorn kernels and rich chunks of crispy bacon – all fantastically cooked, and although the sweetcorn seemed like an odd addition at first, it was good to have the sweetness there to counteract what would otherwise have been an overpoweringly rich and earthy dish.
Sadly neither of us had room for dessert, but I’ll definitely make room for the cheese board the next time I visit – a fantastic selection of artisan cheeses from Trethowan’s Dairy with the option of ordering one, three or all five varieties.
Service was friendly, efficient and relaxed throughout – many thanks to Suzy and the team for a very enjoyable evening. After that meal, I’ll definitely not leave it for that long in the future when a venue is recommended to me by multiple people.
The Kensington Arms
Telephone: 0117 944 6444
Address: 35-37 Stanley Road, Redland, Bristol, BS6 6NP
Find The Kensington Arms on the Bristol Bites Directory…