This week saw me on a midweek jaunt up Gloucester Road, popping into The Gallimaufry prior to our dinner reservation at Delmonico. Owner Nick Hennessy had invited a friend and I to enjoy dinner at the venue, just past the junction with Sommerville Road, in an area buzzing with restaurants as well as the newly opened 102 Cookery School.
217 Gloucester Road has been home to Nick and the team since 2001, and was preceded by previous venues Redcliffes (now Toto’s) and the former Melbournes on Park Street (now the Gourmet Burger Kitchen). Head chef Tyrone Tippins has been with Nick and business partner Tony for 16 years – since he left catering college at the age of 16 – and the team continue to support those in food education, having hired an apprentice chef this year.
As with other buildings on the same stretch, Delmonico is deceptively large. A roadside outdoor seating area leads in to a large room, with a further seating section down a few steps at the back of the restaurant. There is also a large dining room upstairs, which can booked out for private functions, and is also home to Delmonico’s special wine dinner evenings, of which they are planning to host more this year.
On a quiet, post-Bank Holiday weekend Tuesday, there was only one other table in use when we arrived, but the venue filled a little further as the evening progressed.
A sober night once again, we both chose a non-alcoholic Elderflower Cooler (£3.25) to accompany our meal, a sweet and refreshing cocktail of elderflower cordial, lime juice and lemonade. The cocktail list, priced at around the £6 mark, has been recommended by others, and wine lovers will be able to quench their thirst with a range starting from just £3.75 for a 175ml glass. There is a small selection of beers (and one cider) available, you can see the list on their website.
The food menu is certainly varied, with a variety of international influences contributing to the dishes that are listed. Diners can choose, among others, from Italian, British and French-themed dishes, and a tapas menu priced at around £4-£5 per dish adds a Spanish influence too.
Budget-conscious diners can take advantage of two regular offers from Delmonico: either three tapas dishes (those priced at £4.25 only) for £11.50, or the early bird offer of two courses for £11.95 or three for £15.95 (5-7.30pm Tuesday-Friday and 12-7pm on Saturdays).
My three courses were chosen based on Nick’s recommendations, and began with a warm deep filled leek, mushroom and Cheddar tart (£4.95). This turned out to be a hearty portion with a quiche-like consistency, the mushroom and Cheddar coming through strongly but the leeks a little lost in the mix. Delicious, though, and I loved the cheesecake-style base, made with crumbled oatcakes and Parmesan. Rich, salty flavours, complimented nicely by the mound of sweet homemade chutney that finished the plate.
Sarah opted for the smoked mackerel and cream cheese mousse with sweet pickled cucumber (£4.95). The mousse, she said, was “fresh and light, yet rich enough to be really satisfying”. She also enjoyed the sweet and tangy cucumber, but commented that it could have done with being served in a pot to avoid the resulting pool of liquid on the plate making everything a bit soggy.
My recommended main of slow cooked belly of pork (£13.95) was another huge portion, the meat tender and beautifully presented. Unfortunately the crackling had only reached a decent level of crunch on one side, with the rest still slightly flabby, and rather a large layer of fat underneath. The salsa was fresh and tart, but the red wine sauce was a little over-salty for my tastes.
The same red wine sauce was served with my friend’s confit of duck leg (£14.95), and she made the same comment, with the salt levels unfortunately overpowering the flavour of the braised red cabbage which accompanied her meal. While the duck was well-cooked, it was a little dry in places – “nice but not as good as the starter” was her verdict.
Both of our meals were served with a side of mashed potato (my friend had requested this rather than the roast potatoes with which the duck is usually served), which was beautifully peppery but both taste and texture suggested the use of a microwave to reheat it.
Despite struggling with large portions, we were both keen to try the creme brulee with roasted rhubarb (£5.25), the one dessert on the specials board that evening. Definitely a good choice. Our dessert passed the initial test, with a topping that was beautifully coloured and cracked perfectly under the spoon. The rhubarb, nestled underneath the cream, was tender and tasty, and the cream itself was vanilla-flecked and of a wonderful consistency.
A bit of a mixed bag, all in all. The starters and desserts were fantastic, we were both really happy with these. The mains, however, which had the potential to be outstanding, were let down somewhat by a few things that could easily have been rectified. We’d be interested to hear of other people’s experiences…
Please note: this meal was received free of charge, but in no way impacted on our opinion. We were not obliged to write a positive review, and the venue did not see this review before it was put up on the site.
Find Delmonico on the Bristol Bites Directory…