When I am visiting friends who live in a different part of town, one of the things I really look forward to is trying out new eating places I wouldn’t usually go to out of the norm. In my recent visit to Fishponds, my good friends recommended a visit to The Cross Hands pub as they felt that this was their top notch local pub for food and drinks which was a bit of a rarity in the neighbourhood.
Situated on a tip of a three way junction, the pub is easy to find. If you are driving there by car, there is no car park at the premises and street parking can get quite full. From the moment you enter the place, you can see that pub has had a makeover in recent years and resembles a modern upscale positioned retro hip gastropub as you would expect.
There is something quite reassuring when you get recommendations from those who are locals to that particular area and most of the time; it usually means it has been tried, tested and shortlisted as a good representative eatery. We chose from a seasonal summer menu and there was a good selection available and most of the food options were generally appealing.
Skipping starters, we decided to go for a main course and ordered the Seafood Pasta, Mussels, Clams, Shrimp & Salmon, White Wine Sauce £14. From the moment it arrived, the disappointments were obvious. The sauce was very watery and you could see how much there was as it covered the bottom section of the pasta like a soup base. As expected, the pasta was overcooked and was too soft which resembled something closer to a noodle soup than pasta. The seafood part of dish comprising of mussels, clams, shrimp and salmon sounded attractive on the menu but failed to provide any comeback for the poorly cooked pasta. The seafood lacked any taste of freshness from the sea and maybe because of the overall disappointment in this dish, it seemed to taste as if it came straight from the freezer or a jar. For all the disappointed aspects of this dish, I felt it was very overpriced for the quality delivered, but for the benefit of the doubt. I would like to think it was a one off mishap and someone in the kitchen was having a bad day.
We also ordered the Medium Artisan Chargrilled Pizza with Chorizo, Mushrooms, Bacon £6
Choosing three from a list of eight ingredients, this was an attractive and well-presented pizza served on a rustic wooden serving board. Although I would have preferred a crispier textured pizza base which turned out a bit too soft for my liking; the balance of ingredients were very good. The result was a well done dish offering reasonable value, which can be consumed as a main course or just as good as a sharing plate or maybe even as an alternative option to a child’s meal.
For desserts, we ordered the Sticky Toffee Pudding, Rum and Raisin Ice Cream £6. Perhaps this was ordered as a token of consolation to remedy the poor main course pasta dish but when the dessert arrived; it showed the some of the same signs as the pasta earlier – there was a moat of sauce around the pudding! One of the positive aspects about the pudding was that it was a little less sweet than the usual toffee puddings you would have, which was a refreshing difference when the sweetness can often become too overwhelming. The overall sweetness was well balanced but the rum and raisin ice cream was ordinary and didn’t really add anything extra to the dessert.
One of the notable features is the outdoor beer garden and children’s play area which should be enjoyed if the weather permits. Although there is a noticeable effort in accommodating families with children’s menu and play area, it was surprising not to find any baby changing facilities there. With the ups and downs taken into consideration, the visit to this gastropub was overall a positive experience and it would not be surprising to see its reputation grow stronger in the future.
The Cross Hands
1 Staple Hill Road
Tel. 0117 965 7759