Whenever I plan to visit a new restaurant I always try to pick an early weekday night and never going in a group of more than two people for good measure. That is my attempt to ensure you get the best of everything on an average day in the restaurant.
This tends to provide an environment with a less busy kitchen, avoid being next to a large table of rowdy guests, a revitalised interior and service staff rested from the weekend break. I tend to think this should leave a smaller margin for anything going wrong. So if disaster strikes in terms of food, service or ambience during my visit; I would avoid to draw a negative opinion and not reaching a point of no return.
When I am looking for good pubs and restaurants around town, I am always surprised to find that there are so many hidden gems out there just waiting for me to discover. This time I decided to pick an area I wasn’t familiar with and fortunately enough, I was lucky to find a place that is well worth visiting.
Located in Long Ashton, Bird in Hand is a village pub about fifteen minutes drive away from the city centre. I have always had a soft spot for country pubs and given this was just a short distance away; I could hardly believe I had not come across this place before. The dining area is cosy and yet comfortable in a traditional setting. The menu had a limited selection which changes daily but it did offered popular dishes you would expect from a gastro pub with a strong emphasis on locally sourced produce. The ambience was relaxed with cheerful, friendly and keen to please staffs.
For starters, we ordered the baked hens egg with winter mushrooms (£5.00) which was a lovely and warm treat for the cold weather. The rich flavour of the mushrooms was very delicious and dipping my bread whilst sipping my pint of ale was a thoroughly enjoyable start to the meal. For the mains, we had the Fried Cornish Cod and Chips (£12.00) which was generously sized and well cooked. The fish was fresh and succulent but was a little let down by the overly thick batter. As fish and chips goes, it was commendable and tasty but not quite spectacular.
The other main course we ordered was the Hereford beef onglet, roast onions and ox cheek (£18.00). For anyone with a passion for good beef; this is an incredibly difficult item to turn down when you encounter it on a menu. This was again served as a generous portion and arrived at the table with a robust beef aroma to tease your expectations. The steak was well cooked as medium rare should be which brought out a wonderful favour and full of freshness. The roast onions was a great accompaniment with the onglet steak but the ox cheek tasted a little over cooked and I felt it did not necessarily contribute anything additional to the dish. We had braised red cabbage (£2.50) and bashed roots (£3.00) as side orders, which were also quite large.
As the courses were large, our appetites only allowed us to have one dessert for sharing and we went with the apple & almond crumble with vanilla ice cream (£4.95). After having two good courses, finishing off with something sweet for the palate usually makes a decent conclusion to the meal. However, this was not quite the perfect ending we had hoped for. The apple’s taste was extremely sharp and needed more than the serving of ice cream it came with to sooth the sour sting from my traumatised taste buds. It was not a bad dessert but perhaps in our case, it was just a matter of preferred taste?
Since our visit, the restaurant had received a Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand recommendation. For our meal, we had good quality food but there was noticeable difference in some of the choices of dishes we had. The more traditional, safer items such as fish and chips, and apple crumble were ordinary and nothing special. Where as the more unique and outstanding in the egg and mushrooms, and the beef onglet was so much more satisfying. Overall, you get very good value for money in the large portions served and there is little reason why you should not give it a try the next time you want to visit someplace new.
Bird in Hand
17 Weston Road
Long Ashton, BS41 9LA
Tel. 01275 395 222