Prior to this week, I’d only ever eaten Sunday lunch at The Grain Barge on Hotwell Road – and had a very different experience on each of those two occasions. The first was a great success: perfectly crispy roast potatoes, tasty gravy, well-cooked meat…leading us to book a table for 13 a few weeks later. On that occasion, they’d run out of most things by the time we arrived (despite having booked), and to be told that only four of your group can have roast potatoes isn’t ideal.
Fast forward about a year, and the decision to turn up early to grab a bite to eat before their Monday night quiz – and a far better experience than the previous time.
With two menus on the go, we had a choice of the standard ‘pies and sandwiches’ menu, or picking from the specials list, which changes regularly. Sirloin steak, braised pork belly with black pudding mash and a roasted butternut squash and sage risotto were among the options we could have gone for, ranging from £8 to £14.50 for a main dish.
We, however, decided to order from the standard menu. It was the chicken and Gruyere pie with mash and a creamy leek sauce (£8.50) that caught my eye on the day. Sitting on a bed of perfectly smooth mash, the pie crust was thick and cheesy (maybe too thick for those who aren’t as addicted to pastry as me…?) and filled with generously proportioned chunks of chicken in a creamy sauce.
The leeks in the sauce were perfectly cooked, lovely and soft, but the sauce itself – despite being full of flavour – was a little watery in consistency.
My friend’s fish and prawn pie (also £8.50) arrived at the table with the mashed potato topping wonderfully crispy and garnished with finely chopped chives. The balance between seafood and sauce was deemed to be good, and a thumbs up from her for the size of the prawns!
During the course of the quiz, our table also shared a bowl of marinated olives (£3.50) – again, a generous portion of various types and sizes of olives, marinated in olive oil with red peppers and garlic.
We also shared a cheeseboard between the five of us – the star of the show. Although the £9.50 price tag may seem steep, it’s a very generous cheeseboard! Five varieties of cheese, quince jelly and a generous handful of mini oatcakes are served on a slate board, and would easily serve two as a light meal or one hungry person as a full meal!
Overall, definitely happy. It’s a great venue for a relaxed midweek meal, and at value-for-money prices. With Bristol Beer Factory beers on tap and Orchard Pig fruit juices in the fridge, the drinks aren’t bad either. I’d highly recommend their Monday night quiz too – a great evening all round!
Find The Grain Barge on the Bristol Bites Directory…