Gordito, Colston Hall: Review

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Food and drink venues housed in buildings with a different overall purpose are always going to be tricky to get right – and while both food and design at the recently-opened Gordito at the Colston Hall are great, there hangs a question mark over whether the location could prove to be their downfall.

Owned by Bath Ales, charcuterie bar Gordito is housed inside the entrance of Colston Hall that overlooks the Trenchard Street car park – not the most attractive of views through the floor to ceiling windows, but look in the opposite direction and you’ll be faced with a fantastic sight: a fully stocked bar with seating, and a mouthwateringly tempting selection of cured meats hanging along the back.


Gordito - Interior


The design is courtesy of Bristol-based Simple Simon, who have given the place an elegant yet informal feel, with plenty of natural light from the large windows.

Essentially, it’s a relaxed place to catch up over a glass of wine or sherry, along with a few nibbles or a full meal. The alcoholic drinks list is exclusively Spanish (bar the Phantom from Beerd, owned by Bath Ales), with a great selection of wine, sherry and port – and even Spanish cider. We each went for a glass of the Tempranillo – a beautifully fruity and vibrant red – and enjoyed complimentary puff pastry nibbles while we made the incredibly difficult decision over what to order to eat…


Gordito - Breadsticks


Suppliers are listed at the bottom of the menu, and include the likes of Walter Rose, Wing of St Mawes and A David & Co – lots of local suppliers, which is great, but also with various cheeses and meats that are produced in Italy and Spain for a touch of authenticity.

We decided to go for a bit of everything – some “little things”, charcuterie and cheese from the main menu; and a couple of dishes from the list of ever-changing hot plates. Just don’t expect a “starters – main courses – desserts” type evening: each dish is brought out as and when it’s ready, adding to the informality of the place.

We had it on good authority that we should try the jamon croquetas (£5) – and we’re glad we did. These thin, breaded croquettes were more ham, less bechamel on the inside, lovely and salty and full of flavour.


Gordito - Croquetas


Keen to sample some of the cheese and charcuterie selection, we decided to go for the easy option and ordered the Gordito Slate (£16.50), rather than choosing individual items. We loved the dry nuttiness of the Manchego, the delicate creaminess of the Burratina and the intensity of the Salami Bastardo, but were surprised that the Serrano Jamon was pretty delicate in its flavour – not what we were expecting. The meats and cheeses were served with olive oil-drizzled toasted bread, which was a little too over-toasted, sadly – cue shards pinging across the table when we tried to cut into it.


Gordito - Slate


The slate was served with a selection of pickles – including cornichons, cauliflower, carrot, baby onions and fennel – which served as a great palate-cleanser between mouthfuls.


Gordito - Pickles


From the “little things” menu we also ordered the Fritto Misto (£5): a dish of lightly battered and fried seafood that didn’t need the grilled lemon wedge with which it was accompanied. The plate included probably the best calamari I’ve had all year, which melted in the mouth, and a beautiful clash of sweet and juicy prawns with salty whitebait. Beautiful.


Gordito - Fritto Misto


We couldn’t leave without trying a couple of the dishes from the specials menu, and began with a simple salad of white asparagus, radish, peas, watercress and truffle oil (£6): a winning combination of flavours and textures, with just the lightest sprinkling of salt flakes for seasoning. We’re not sure where the truffle oil came in, though – normally a strong flavour, it was hard to distinguish in this dish.


Gordito - Salad


Our final dish was sadly the disappointment of the evening – a dish of confit chicken thigh with chestnut mushroom, heritage tomato and Jersey Royal potato (£7). While there’s no denying that all of the components were perfectly cooked, there appeared to be no seasoning whatsoever, leaving it a little bland. At £7, it’s not the cheapest of dishes – without much seasoning, the price seems even more unjustified.


Gordito - Chicken


Service throughout the meal was great: attentive, but not overly so. Our waiter explained the menu well, and was helpful when it came to working out how much to order between us. His wine recommendation was spot on too!

It’s a bit of an odd place. The quality of the food is undeniable – bar that slight seasoning issue – and both the concept and the design of the space are great. However, we visited at 7.30 on a Friday night and were joined by just one other table of two the entire time we were there – we were told that it’s busier when there’s a show on at the Colston Hall. Price-wise, it seemed a little steep compared with other tapas-type venues in Bristol, but in spite of the negatives, we really did have a fantastic evening. Here’s hoping that trade can pick up for them soon…


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.


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