Bristol’s epicurean credentials bubble over into the suburbs at the Bird in Hand, the Long Ashton inn where accomplished cooking and eye-popping plating meet foraged finds and freehouse frolicking, says Kathryn Lewis
Finding the sweet spot between culinary expertise and customer experience is no mean feat, but the team at the Bird in Hand have it sussed. While seriously seasonal dishes such as breaded and poached lamb sweetbreads induce swoonsome sweet nothings in the relaxed dining space, chilled vibes and friendly banter entertain a lively bunch of locals sipping prosecco and pints in the bar.
VISIT for dinner dictated by the fields. You’d be hard pushed to find a menu that switches things up as often as it does here, and it’s the result of chef owner Toby Gritten’s passion for foraged goodies. When he’s not rocking the pass at one of his three dining pubs, you’ll find him out in the surrounding countryside picking ingredients. Day to day, the kitchen is in the capable hands of new head chef, Felix Rayment.
Crowd-pleasers such as rolled pork belly are upgraded with artful additions such as coiled crackling, turnip terrine, black pudding and smoky burnt apple puree, while adventurous visitors can sample palate-piquing plates from the likes of lightly torched river trout with al dente puy lentils, crispy kale and red cabbage ketchup.
DON’T VISIT for a one course wonder.
The mains may be hefty enough to fuel a hearty appetite but you’d be a fool to turn down the plate-scrapeingly delicious dark chocolate fondant with silky coffee ice cream and sweet parsnip crisps.
WE LIKED the cosy ambience, courtesy of the fireside snug with cushioned benches, barrel of logs and feature wall embellished with Mrs Beeton recipes.
For smarter supping, there’s also a bright ‘n’ beautiful dining room decked out with classic British commercial brand artwork.
INSIDER’S TIP Swap tired sarnies at the terminal for a slap up pub lunch: the Long Ashton pit-stop is just 10 minutes from Bristol Airport.
What we ate (dinner)
Starter Torched river trout, puy lentils, red cabbage ketchup and kale
Main Rolled pork belly, crackling, black pudding, turnip terrine and burnt apple
Pud Apple, walnut and brown butter
3 courses from £28