Saturday, 13 April 2019

Bravas, Cotham Hill, Bristol tapas bar review

As soon as we perched at the heavy wooden bar of Bristol’s Bravas we were transported to one of the countless tapas bars we love in Murcia, Seville and San Sebastian.

It's the little things which give it a sense of authenticity; from the counter top refrigerator loaded with fresh salads to a wheel of tortilla ready to be sliced for the lunchtime crowd.

An ice cold glass of dry house manzanilla and a citrusy Albariño sealed the deal. 

We worked our way through a hoard of the traditional tapas on offer at this Cotham Hill restaurant. But, there were so many I'd make a return visit across the Severn Bridge for. 

Jamón croquetas (£2.40 each) were perhaps the weakest dish, their innards having leaked out a little from their golden cocoons. What remained of the nutmeg spiced béchamel was packed with flavour and studded with salty nuggets of ham. 

Once you've had Spanish style fried aubergines (£4.30) they'll be an essential order from that day on. The tender vegetable fingers were coated in the lightest of batters before being liberally drench with sticky, sweet and tangy molasses. 

A potato salad (£4.60) flecked with meaty tuna and spiked with fragrant dill, punchy capers and pink pickled onions was a distinctly British take on the classic Russian salad tapa. 

Cordoban salmorejo (£3.70) was one of our friendly server's favourite dishes and I can see why. A vibrant thick cold tomato soup with a good whallop of garlic was topped with a fine dice of salty cured beef. 

It's a bit of a giveaway as to how tender a pice of meat is when you only need a spoon to tease it apart. The ridiculously good slow cooked ox cheek (£8.20) was coated in a thick beefy and winey gravy and served atop aniseed-fragranced celeriac puree. 

A final roll of the savoury dice saw a jackpot in the form of salt cod fritters (£6.70). The golden exterior gave way to a light potato-based filling strewn with chunky pieces of tender fish. Textbook parsley and caper based tartare and a good squeeze of lemon brought balance to the plate.

Dessert was completely unnecessary and one of the best value restaurant dishes I've had in a while. £15.90 bought us four out of the five desserts on the menu alongside any two glasses of dessert wine. Whilst you’d perhaps expect this to result in taster size portions, they were anything but.

I guzzled an apricotty moscatel whilst Mrs G necked an intense and raisiny Pedro Ximénez. 

Moist and citrusy arbequina olive oil and lemon sponge was topped with a delicately fragranced and airy moscatel cream. Rich, thick and smooth chocolate mousse was nicely twanged with orange and topped with the golden crunch of an almond crumb. 

Smooth crema catalana was also delightfully citrus twanged but its burnt sugar top could have benefited from slightly more caramelising. 

Finally, crisp and marshmallowey meringues topped with a Seville orange and crunchy hazelnut caramel were cunningly doggy-bagged and inhaled later that night. 

We had a lush lunch at Bravas. In a city as fiercely competitive as Bristol it takes a lot to flourish and these guys are smashing it with their traditional Spanish cooking.

The Details:

Address - Bravas, 7 Cotham Hill, Bristol BS6 6LD
Telephone - 0117 329 6887

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