(Review by Beth from the Bristol Craft blog – many thanks!)
A couple of weeks ago I went to Poco with three of my good friends. I’d been previously, for coffee, to people watch out the windows a few times, for lunch with my boyfriend (he had the sourdough and harissa mayo and bacon sarnie, I had a salad with lentils, broccoli, couscous and some sort of beautiful dressing). This time, however, we wanted a full meal and we didn’t know quite what to expect. This turned out to be a good thing. All I knew was that the bacon sarnie and salad were divine, the atmosphere cosy, friendly and relaxed. I wanted more.
We walked past the open kitchen which is placed between the front and rear seating areas (the front area is more bar/brunch oriented, I’d say). We chose seating at the back of the venue and the waitress explained that everything on the menu and the specials board was tapas, gave use our menus, and we got to gossiping. As opposed to looking at the menu, which is what we were supposed to be doing. The waitress came back several times and we hadn’t even looked at the menu but we ordered a glass of wine and two cocktails from the summer cocktail menu (£5 each) while we talked and waited for the fourth person in our party to arrive.
The decor is lovely, little glass vases with simple white flowers adorn each table, hanging plants drape from the tops of tall shelves, one wall is a chalkboard with the specials as well as a huge, very bright painting by Mark Childs, who I believe is a local artist. There is lots of worn wood and some vintage/hipsterish artifacts like an old gramophone and old hanging light fittings.
When we finally decided what to have, we ordered a few dishes the first time round. We had the calamari which comes with flat bread and aioli:
We had patatas bravas, cauliflower salad and (below) purple sprouting broccoli with garlic, chilli and orange:
We also had sour dough bread and oil/balsamic, white bean hummus with flat bread and hot chorizo and sausages.
The calamari was so good, the batter was perfectly crisp, not a soggy or greasy piece in sight. The aioli was just garlicky enough with the mayonnaise at a good consistency.
The patatas bravas were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and spicy enough with a lot of spicy tomato sauce on top so that you know this is the real deal.
The cauliflower salad and brocolli were well cooked, still tender to the bite but I can’t quite remember the dressings…chili and garlic featured, I’m sure. Yum.
The sour dough with oil as well as the flat bread and white bean hummus were tasty. Simple dishes which I won’t gush about too much. Although it has to be said that even simple dishes can be quite disastrous: the bread can be under/over cooked/stale, the hummus too garlicky. Sufficed to say these simple dishes were well executed, no bread mishaps here.
So after that little lot we decided we weren’t quite full enough so order a few more dishes – the first two were repeats because they were so fantastic the first time round:
Calamari (it was perfect)
Patatas bravas (again: perfect)
Pollock with butter and sorrel
This last dish was the best out of everything we ordered, the taste of the sorrel and the way the butter flavoured the fish beautifully, I really felt like the bites melted in my mouth, I would order that dish again in a second.
I was impressed to see spider crab on the menu £15 and presumably to share, I think this was the most expensive dish on the menu. I can remember my mum always used to buy spider crab as a preference over brown crab (crab was definitely a holiday treat when I was a child) and I’m reliably informed it’s cheaper than brown crab. In France, spider crab is apparently as popular as brown crab because of it’s sweet, delicate flavour (thanks for that info Porthgain Shellfish!) Anyway, I digress…
To drink, one of my friends and I had cocktails from the summer cocktail menu. These were priced at a very reasonable £5 each and they definitely packed a punch. The regular cocktails were priced at £8 each. Friends 3 and 4 had white and rose wine, which they were very happy with. Throughout our meal, the service was brilliant, the waitress was attentive throughout our meal and we didn’t ever feel bothered or pushed into action.
The vibe is cosy, comfy, warm, friendly, relaxed, it reminded me a bit of Friend of a Farmer in New York. Did I mention it’s cosy? I like cosy, relaxed places to dine.
The crowd was a friendly, relaxed, cool bohemian Stokes Croft type, I was happy to see young people and older people, hip single professional types as well as families.
Total was £75, including drinks, not including a tip which we happily added on top, for four people.
Go, people of Bristol, and visitors-to-Bristol. If you know what’s good for you, go! I highly recommend it, I may see you in there, I’ll be the one ordering the pollock.
Find Poco on the Bristol Bites Directory…