I've discovered that authentic Greek cuisine is rather difficult to come by in Bristol, proving somewhat overshadowed by the multitude of alternative food genres which exist centrally within in each and every postcode. However, a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon All in One during an impromptu Park Street bar crawl; a bar-come-restaurant which although upon first look may be cast off as just another teeny- bopper's hang-out, really ticks all the boxes when it comes to its home-made Hellenic fare. Consequently, on a particularly grey Tuesday within the height of the supposed British Summertime, I sought refuge in the form of its laid-back holiday vibe (so rarely perfected in good old Blighty) and more importantly, cheered myself up with something sweet, indulgent and fundamentally reminiscent of some of the best Summer holidays I've had to date...
Date and Time: Tuesday 23rd August 2011, 14:30
Name of Establishment: All in One Bar and Restaurant
Location: 46 Park Street, Bristol
Reason for Visit: A pick-me-up to counteract the grey skies overhead and my (equally as grey) mood.
With a Cypriot owner who has influenced the menu with a host of Mediterranean (primarily Greek) classics alongside a friendly team who go out of their way to welcome you into their fold, it's no wonder that All in One appears to be thriving amidst the difficulties of the current climate. In fact, a little background research led me to discover that All in One has occupied it's mid-way Park Street spot since 1979 – the photographic time-line, archived on their website, nostalgically celebrates this venue's evolution through the decades which suggests to me that there is certainly something, perhaps the passion of those behind the establishment, that maintains its popularity with Clifton's allusive residency. Back to the visit at hand and following the major refurbishment, initiated during the Summer of 2009, the space is fresh and contemporary; decked out with primary colours and accented with solid wooden furniture and comfortable seating. The MTV-inspired soundtrack plays subtly in the background (and flickers from wall-mounted flat screens) and the floor-to-ceiling windows, folded open in good weather, make for a light and airy ambiance as well as an opportunist spot for watching the world go by!
On to the food and I'll start with my particular order; warmed baklava (£4) which, coupled with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, was effetely packed with nuts, drizzled with honey and sandwiched between flaky layers of filo pastry, just delicious! This is one of my favourite Greek desserts and thus, upon first spotting it on the menu (around Midnight on that first visit) ordered it straight away. Nowadays, it isn’t actually advertised and you have to ask your server for it; after all, it is in my opinion, one of Park Street's best kept secrets! On a savoury note, I can report that dishes are home-made, amply plated and great value for money; with lunchtime portions coming in at around £5 and evening meals roughly £9. To start, I love the tasty simplicity of warmed pitta with Greek-style dips (£3.90); traditional home-made taramasalata, houmous and tzatziki. When it comes to main courses, for me, the Moussaka steals the show proving hearty and flavoursome – a Greek national dish made from layers of potato, aubergine, mince meat and herbs, it's finished with bechamel sauce, grated cheese and oven-baked, (for the record, I am also told that the vegetarian alternative is equally as well received). Other specialities include Kleftiko (lamb shank), Souvlaki and Stifahdo – the latter, a Greek version of a beef casserole with onions, tomatoes and herbs, cooked in red wine and served with either rice or salad. Please note that I can only speak to the Greek dishes as I've never actually experienced the cuisine past this point – that said, there is an extensive selection available including paninis, filled jackets, omelettes and steaks. As an added bonus, a full menu is served until 3:00am across the weekend – certainly a superior upgrade to one's post-drinking munchies?!
To wash this down, all the usual suspects as well as a great range of tipples. Back to that original bar-crawl and I can report that cocktails, costing £6.20 for two as part of a happy hour (which incidentally, extends way beyond its suggested 60-minute remit), includes all the favourites as well as a couple of original creations. The cheekily -coined 'Pop my Cherry' combines Smirnoff Vodka, cherry syrup, cola and a squeeze of fresh lemon resulting in a retro cherry-cola kid's classic with a noticeably boozy twist! OK, so they're not overly professional in terms of their presentation but in fact, adding to that aforementioned holiday vibe, cocktails are sometimes adorned with sparklers, miniature paper parasols and..erm, parrots...but true to form, they are also generously measured and really very drinkable – can't say fairer than that!
So there are a couple of low points...hot drinks are made with whole milk and so, if like me you can't stomach dairy at this volume and normally opt for a skinny or soya alternative, you will ultimately find yourself un-catered for! Secondly, the children's menu is rather uninspiring featuring that tried and tested classic; chicken nuggets, chips and beans! However, that said, the pros clearly outweigh the cons here and just as the website suggests that All in One is an 'ideal venue for all occasions', I would be inclined to agree. On this particular visit, I only popped in for baklava but felt comfortable enough to set up camp for a good couple of hours with a book (punctuated, if I'm honest, by a spot of Facebook browsing courtesy of the free WiFi connection). I've also enjoyed several suitably tasty meals with The Boy. Lastly, I've visited on numerous occasions with pals, drunkenly sipping cocktails and playing Jenga (I challenge you to find the branded 'Sam-Fraggle' brick). Furthermore, you can't help but feel at ease considering this venue's accreditation from Best Bar None for its recognition as one of the safest nightspots in the Bristol area . Overall, an honest, family-run business which delivers great customer service and top-notch cuisine (perhaps comparable to dishes you may find elsewhere but undoubtedly better value for money); it may not be an obvious choice but trust me, if you love Grecian nosh, you simply have to give All in One a try, at least in its capacity as an established, well-run restaurant – Yamas!
|Ode to a Grecian...Dessert!|