Apparently, the decision has been made that a group of food bloggers should be referred to as a “spoonful”. And the name seems to have stuck. Recently, I was lucky enough to be invited to dine at the Bird In Hand in Long Ashton with the Bristol spoonful, consisting (on that particular visit) of me, Wuthering Bites, The Awkward Eater and Bristol Eating Adventures.
Situated out in Long Ashton, the pub and dining rooms – brainchild of Toby Gritten from the Pump House in Hotwells – is sadly a bit of a trek from the city centre for those who, unlike me, rely on public transport and their own two feet to get around. If, however, you can find a willing driver or are happy to stump up the cost of a taxi, it’s well worth a visit.
With a roadside beer garden and a very traditional-looking main bar area, the Bird In Hand very much has the feel of an old school pub. The bar itself stocks the usual West Country beers, including Gem and Butcombe, and a bottle of Thatchers Katy kept me happy during our meal.
The separate dining room is right up my street in terms of the look and feel of the place: dark walls, bare wooden tables with candles in wine bottles, low lighting and a beautiful fireplace give the whole place an elegant but relaxed feel. I also love the old advertising signs that adorn the walls, including those for Coca Cola, Campari, Colmans, Beefeater Gin and others.
The dining menu is very much British with a few small Mediterranean influences – expect the likes of pea and ham soup, pork belly and Eton Mess: great British classics, some with a more modern twist. A choice of five dishes for each course gives vegetarians, fish lovers and meat eaters a decent amount of choice, and we were pleased to see that they were willing to make changes to menu items for the two gluten free diners in our party.
It was the devilled whitebait (£5.00) that stood out to me from the list of starters, an enormous portion coated in crispy, wonderfully seasoned batter – I had to restrain myself from demolishing the lot to save space for my main course…
The inclusion of stuffing and a potato cake was what swayed my main course choice round to the honey roast rare breed duck (£16.00) – tasty and succulent, but could (for me, at least) have done with being a little more pink in the middle. Bristol Eating Adventures (who ordered the same dish) and I are both massive fans of stuffing, and weren’t disappointed by the Bird In Hand’s offering, while the potato cake was perfectly seasoned. I could have taken or left the small portion of bread sauce with which the duck was served, though.
Battling on, we all ordered desserts – if I’d been hungrier, I’d have been massively jealous of Abby’s sticky toffee pudding, which looked amazing.
Instead, Cat and I shared the buttermilk & elderflower pudding with summer fruits & shortbread (£4.95), which almost looked too good to eat! With a similar texture to pannacotta, the creaminess and slight tang of the pudding were accompanied by a range of flavours, from sweet raspberries to the slight sourness of fresh gooseberries. Delicious.
If you’re after an enjoyable meal in relaxed, homely surroundings, then the Bird In Hand is definitely a good shout. If local food is what appeals to you, then take heed of the note at the bottom of the menu, informing diners that “all food is hand made on the premises from locally sourced ingredients”. For a pub environment, the food is by no means cheap, but the venue’s ownership, attention to detail and the obvious quality of the ingredients make the prices justifiable. I’d definitely go back.
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 the Bird In Hand on the Bristol Bites Directory…