Bird in Hand, Long Ashton: 2021 Review

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Bird in Hand Long Ashton - Exterior

 

The last time I reviewed The Bird in Hand in Long Ashton, back in 2012, it was a very different place. At the time, it was run by Toby Gritten of The Pump House, offering a British menu with Mediterranean influences that definitely erred on the gastropub side of the pub food spectrum.

Now, Liz, Rob and Moe are at the helm, and the place has a completely different feel. Liz has introduced her South African heritage to the place, which is evident in the decor: the toddler loved the animal-themed ornaments, the bright and bold photos of South African landscapes and wildlife and the colourful cushions that adorned the sofas.

 

Bird in Hand Long Ashton - Highchair

 

They’ve also given the garden a revamp, with an outdoor bar and plenty of covered space – and during the Euros, there were always plenty of people outside watching the games on the garden’s big screen.

The food menu has also been given the South African treatment. As well as hosting braai nights instead of regular barbecues in the summer, you’ll find dishes like bobotie (plus bobotie balls as a starter), bunny chow and malva pudding on offer – in addition to more traditional pub grub like burgers, steaks, fish and chips and more.

We’d booked a table for lunchtime on a Sunday…I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes when I head out for Sunday lunch, I don’t always want a full roast dinner. It was good to see that, as well roast chicken, roast beef and a veggie roast with all the trimmings (£13-£16), The Bird in Hand also had a choice of three other mains on the day: their famous bobotie, fish and chips, and a Niçoise salad, either with or without salmon. There are also kids’ roasts for £9.50 each, or a choice of alternative kids’ mains – along with a small selection of starters and desserts.

 

Bird in Hand Long Ashton - Sunday menu

 

On the other side of the table, the roast sirloin of beef (£16) was cooked pleasingly medium rare, and came with a homemade Yorkie plus crispy roasted potatoes, braised red cabbage, vibrant curly kale, sweet and sticky glazed carrots, a dish of broccoli and leek gratin and a generous helping of gravy. The yellow courgette, goats’ curd and tomato tartlet (£13) looked equally impressive and was demolished quickly – well, most of it. It was a pretty big serving, the pastry was quite thick and the goats’ curd a significant amount – and there was even a separate jug of vegetarian gravy served alongside it.

 

Bird in Hand Long Ashton - Vegetarian Tart

 

Seeing as I’ve seen so many people rave about the bobotie at The Bird in Hand, I decided to go for it. Priced at £13 and served with a mound of yellow rice with peas and spices, a salad and sambals (a fresh and zingy mixture of cucumber and white onion, and a fruity chutney), the steaming hot dish looked pretty comforting when it arrived.

Never had bobotie before? It’s a traditional South African dish of spiced minced beef with fruit and nuts, all topped off with a combination of egg and milk. The whole thing is then baked in the oven so the topping forms a sort of baked custard.

The presentation might have been a bit sloppy, but I couldn’t fault the flavours. The meat itself was lovely and tender, the dried fruit and slivered almonds giving it a beautiful sweetness and the egg custard on top adding to its complex combination of textures.

 

Bird in Hand Long Ashton - Bobotie

Bird in Hand Long Ashton - Sambals

 

The service was great throughout – friendly and helpful, and attentive to whether we needed extra drinks or sauces. We had a good chat with the landlords before we left, and although we’re not regulars, they treated us as if we were – the true sign of a great village pub. For the food, the service and the atmosphere alike, we’ll definitely be heading back.

 

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