Sometimes it’s nice to push the boat out and go for a fancy dinner, which is exactly what I decided to do on Tuesday night when I visited The Square Club in Bristol*.
Located in a regency building in Berkeley Square just off Park Street, this blink-and-you’ll-miss-it hotel/private members club/restaurant (called The Square Kitchen) was opened in 1999 and is part of Quarter’s range of establishments within the city, which also includes Racks Bar & Kitchen and No4 Clifton Village.
The Square Kitchen prides itself on the quality of ingredients, the majority of which are sourced locally – for example the meat is from Ruby and White on Whiteladies Road. I had heard good things about the food here, and was looking forward to my experience and trying their new Spring menu for myself – read on to see what I thought.
As I walked into The Square Club I was struck by how modern the decor was, which was quite unexpected given the location – I was anticipating it to be more formal and traditional, but I loved these vibrant sofas and wall prints.
We were greeted by a friendly female server, who showed us through to the spacious dining room, which featured long wooden tables and more colourful prints on the walls. Our table was located by a window, with views of the green and leafy square outside, and were left to study the menu. There was certainly plenty to choose from – all of the dishes sounded amazing, it was going to be very hard to pick what to order! A few minutes later our server returned and took our drinks order – a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for me (which I was told was a good choice), and a pint of Stella Artois for my guest.
I decided to go for chicken mousse with parmesan panna cotta for my starter – not something I have ever seen on a menu before, and I was intrigued. My guest chose the pork belly, which was locally sourced from Wiltshire. When the dishes arrived, we couldn’t believe how beautiful they looked – the presentation was excellent:
I particularly liked the chestnut mushrooms and pea puree garnish that was part of my starter, and the chicken mousse was light, fluffy and really tasty, but perhaps a little salty for my palate (I definitely couldn’t have eaten a larger portion). My guest was really impressed with his pork belly, saying it was perfectly cooked, full of flavour, with a good amount of crispy crackling on top – the meal was off to a good start!
I decided to order something a bit different for my main. As you’ll know from previous blog posts, I am rather partial to a steak and despite being tempted by the sound of the Devon Red 8oz rib-eye steak, I opted for the Gressingham duck with pan-fried duck liver (which I was a little apprehensive about, not really being a fan of offal), duck supreme croquette, creamed leeks and baby fennel. Well I was so glad that I did!
The duck was moist and flavoursome, and the citrus jus it was served with really added an extra special element to the dish. I loved the croquettes and I thought the creamed leeks worked well too as they cut through the richness of the dish, adding a slightly sweet element. Although I tried the pan-fried duck liver, it wasn’t to my taste and was the only element that I left on my plate.
My guest ordered the Upper Wraxall lamb both ways (herb crusted rump and braised breast), with pommes mouselline (a type of fancy pureed potato mash), baby carrot and asparagus. He said the lamb was cooked perfectly, full of flavour, and was of a good portion size too. Our server recommended that we should order another side dish to accompany our meals, so we also decided to go for the savoy cabbage and pancetta to share – it was a great combination of flavours that we thought worked really well with both our dishes.
Although we were both feeling full, there was no way we could refuse checking out the dessert menu, given the excellent quality of our first two courses. After considering the options for a few minutes, I chose the chocolate fondant with salt caramel, hazelnut praline and peanut butter ice cream. Well it was simply amazing! A combination of all of my favourite things. The chocolate fondant offered a perfectly molten middle, the salt caramel sauce was totally to die for and the peanut butter ice cream provided a extra sweetness to the dish – not something I thought would work well given the richness of the other elements, but I was really impressed . My guest chose the deconstructed tiramisu, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He thought it was an interesting way of presenting a classic dessert, with all of the elements coming together well – more clean plates all round!
Overall I really enjoyed my visit to The Square Kitchen. The quality of the food, drink and service from our server were all excellent – definitely the type of offering I would expect to find in a Michelin starred restaurant, but at a much lower price point.
The presentation and care that was taken over the food was superb, and if I had to make any other observations about the meal it would be that as we visited on a slightly quiet Tuesday evening, there was a certain lack of atmosphere in the restaurant. Although it was nice that our meal felt quite relaxed, I did miss that certain background buzz and atmosphere that I feel adds to a dining experience – I’d love to visit on a Friday or Saturday night to see if there is any difference! That said, I definitely think The Square Kitchen would be the perfect place for a meal on a special occasion, and I shall definitely be returning.
Have you visited The Square Kitchen before? I’d love to know what you thought! Let me know by commenting below.
*Although I was invited to visit The Square Kitchen for the purpose of a review, the words, thoughts and opinions stated here are all my own.