Have I mentioned that The Boy belongs to the heroic Sunday workforce? If so, I may have also alluded to the fact that I frequently rescue him from the unjust clutches of out-of-hours retail in order to conclude the weekend with the dinner 'n drinks combo that normal people usually partake in on a Friday night! Subsequently, on this particular evening (and following a couple of warm-up beverages within the warmth of The Alma Tavern), The Boy and I made our way to the venue intended as our main event; Racks Bar and Kitchen for a hearty nosh-up and, courtesy of Voucher Cloud*, on a buy-one-get-one-free basis, (yay!)
Date and Time: Sunday 5th February 2012 , 19:00
Name of Establishment: Racks Bar and Kitchen*
Location: St. Paul's Road, Clifton, Bristol
Reason for Visit: End-of-the-week treat with The Boy
After negotiating the nooks and crannies of this smartly-decorated and rather charismatic space, The Boy and I were ushered towards an appropriately informal table-for-two. Part of The Clifton Hotel and coined; Bristol's 'Premier Sports Bar (with the capacity for over twelve screens of sporting action to be exact), this is a multi-purpose space attracting a varied clientèle. And, with a predominantly wooden-clad interior, flickering candlelight as well as a chilled-out soundtrack overhead (of mainly Keane we noted), it is also undeniably the epitome of cosiness. That said, the facilities were a tad on the grungy side, not to mention freezing cold – nothing like an old-school and typically 'Clifton' building to make you feel like you've gone back to an era whereby you must spend a penny in a chiliy out-house! However, with that minor set back over and done with, our server arrived; a chirpy character with an ample hold on efficient yet laid-back customer service, who duly informed us that although the Sunday Roasts had run out, there was a 'happy hour' in operation whereby certain tipples were offered at a discounted price. With knowledge of their typically (and unashamedly) 'top-end' price tags, a 175ml glass of Zinfandel Rosé barely scraping the £3 mark (which would normally come in at £5) certainly couldn't be sniffed at! The Boy was pleased to discover that Bath Ale's Gem was offered on-tap, a personal favourite which he ordered within the blink of an eye!
When it came to the menu, The Boy and I found it somewhat challenging to choose between the broad range of pub-grub classics and comfort-food favourites and, after a great deal of um-ming and ah-ing, The Boy finally settled on the fish pie, (£7.95). Here, a combination of mashed potato and melted cheddar encased an ensemble of salmon, king prawns and mussels which were immersed in a subtly-flavoursome fennel sauce and accompanied with a side-portion of crisp, seasonable vegetables. He reported that although decadent, the topping was extremely rich due to its extortionate cheese content and, as a result, completely overpowered other elements of the dish. Consequently, The Boy had to remove a layer of what he found to be a good-quality cheddar with a mature bite, in order to explore the more intricate flavours which existed beneath its rather heavy disposition. That said, Rack's line-up of home-made pies did prove a highlight of the menu and, included within the £5 lunch options, can be enjoyed at an even more reasonable price than they fare 'à la carte' - the chilli beef cottage pie with sweet potato mash and melted Gruyère stood out for me; a dish which unquestionably warrants a return-visit! On this occasion though, I opted for the famous 'Racks Burger' (£10) which I'd heard described as a 'best-seller'; even rivalling its nearby counterparts (The Burger Joint's wares for instance). This meant that I had rather high expectations which I'm pleased to report were, on the large part, met. Thus, it's fair to say that the medium-rare and obviously hand-made beef patty, liberally spread with a vibrant tomato and onion chutney and finished with melted Gruyère was just plain delicious! In fact, my only criticism was that there was slightly too much bread constituting the 'bun' and, albeit fresh ciabatta, just wasn't necessary. In light of this, I improvised somewhat - creating a chip butty or two...classy or what?!
|I'm ready for my close-up!|
Feeling rather full after our mutual carb-fest, The Boy and I decided against dessert, (though I did eye up the 'home-baked toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream' (£5.50)...well it would have been rude not to!) As a result, we left feeling well-fed and given the fortunate money-saving input from Voucher Cloud, a lot less lighter in the pocket than anticipated! We agreed that we would return to Racks and yet not before finding out a little more about the promotions offered on a day-to-day basis...In light of this, please be advised that the website does not detail what we considered a rather sporadic 'happy hour', though I did note that Tuesdays host the 'We Love Wine' deal whereby all bottles, (both vino and champers) have 25% off. Furthermore, and rather incidentally, the website also facilitates purchasing 'Racks' branded golf balls, just in case you find yourself wondering what to buy the man who has everything! And so, if you're in the area and/or happy to pay 'Clifton prices' for your cuisine, you could certainly do a lot worse than Racks – on the contrary, this is an establishment offering a relaxed, homely ambiance, chatty service and hearty pub-grub. For those entertaining a rather more healthy lifestyle, there are lighter options to choose from, not to mention a temptingly tasty line-up of antipasti, but on the whole, we're talking good, honest comfort-food; a little heavy in places but downright satisfying...nothing like a full belly to give you the warm and fuzzies!
And now for the male opinion...
The Boy gave Racks a rating of 7/10 and in three words summed up the cuisine as 'pie versus cheese!'