Tag Archives: restaurant

Lunch at the Thali Café, Southville

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ll probably have gathered by now that we absolutely love cooking – we were trying to figure it out, and we reckon we spend more time awake in the kitchen/dining room than anywhere else in our house! Sometimes though, you just have to get out and treat yourself – of course as a food blogger, you can treat this as “research”!

That’s why last week we toddled off to North Street, a short walk from where we live in Bristol, in search of some good lunchtime grub. We knew we wouldn’t be disappointed, as there are tons of great places to choose from. We learned recently that Bedminster was one of the poorest areas in the country only 20 years ago, but you would never be able to tell from the thriving community that has sprung up in the area, with North Street being a focal point of the regeneration – it’s packed with independent cafés, restaurants and shops, and barely a month goes by without a new place opening up.

We settled on the Southville branch of the Thali Café, a Bristol restaurant chain with a focus on Indian street food-style dishes. The chain started out as a van at a festival, serving one dish, but they soon expanded into their first permanent residence in Montpelier (that’s Bristol, not France… never figured out why there’s an area of Bristol called Montpelier… ). The Southville branch opened last year and we’ve already been a bunch of times, it’s a favourite whenever we have guests staying in Bristol as it’s sure to please. Their Thali is definitely one of the best meals out we’ve had in Bristol, for its deliciousness and its simplicity, but we were keen to try out their lunch menu.

Window Seat Thali Café

The restaurant was pretty quiet at lunchtime – we had no problem getting a great table for two by the window. The walls are covered in framed pictures from old Indian films and painted their signature pink and turquoise, and there were old radios and other paraphernalia scattered around the place, making for a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

Thali Café Inside

Lunch turned out to be quite the bargain! It was £5 each for a wrap or a special, and there was a glass of chai (Indian black tea spiced with cardamom, cinnamon and cloves) thrown in. After agonising over the menu (everything looked excellent) Fats decided on a Pollock Kolkata Wrap, while Bird went for an Uttapam, from the South Indian Specials menu – a soft rice pancake with fresh herbs, tomato, red onion and grated coconut, and served with sambar and coconut chutney.

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First up, the wrap. This was great – big chunks of succulent fish deep fried in gram flour batter that was crisp and not at all greasy, wrapped in a fresh flatbread. This all came served with coconut chutney, which was light and refreshing.

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The Uttapam was light and fluffy, and stuffed with herbs, tomato and onion. It had a great roasted rice flavour, and was perfect for soaking up the delicious sambar (a vegetable stew made with tamarind, one of Bird’s favourite flavours!). Bird’s mum used to live in India and was very jealous when she learned that we could get fresh Uttapam 10 minutes from our front door! We’ve promised to take her for lunch next time she’s visiting.

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These dishes were pretty much perfect, and exactly what you want from a light lunch – filling and full of energy, but not the kind of meal that will send you to sleep for the afternoon. We still felt we had to try one last thing on the menu though – the Himalayan Pink Salt Lassi was calling out to us! This is an Indian-style smoothie made mostly with fresh yoghurt – ours came topped with cumin too. We were slightly worried that it might have been a bit too salty (neither of us were up for a glass of sea water), but we needn’t have been – the lassi was cool and refreshing.

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We left feeling completely satisfied, and like we had got more than our money’s worth. We’ll definitely be going for lunch again, and dinner too – just as soon as we’ve sampled all the other delights North Street has to offer!

The Thali Café have branches in Southville, Montpelier, Easton, Clifton and Totterdown. You can also get a take away – if you buy a tiffin, they’ll fill it up for you -what a great idea!

Thali Café Sign

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Pomegranate – Brighton

Hello! Sorry for the erratic posting lately, we’ve had a string of crazy weekends and life has been a little bit all over the place in the Fats & Bird bubble. However this coming weekend we finally, finally have a weekend to ourselves, and we don’t have to get on another train until October 31st! Words can’t express my excitement at this prospect. Anyway, back to the weekend just gone, we went to see Bird’s parents in Brighton – we haven’t been since June and a visit was long overdue.

Before we left Bristol we stopped for lunch at Friska which is a Bristol mini-chain of cafes producing incredible fresh food with punchy flavours at great prices and they’re pretty ethically fab too. We both plumped for the chicken pho (Vietnamese noodle soup) which was delicious – it had a really strong stock, and it was spicy and fragrant with perfect noodles and big chunks of juicy chicken. Just what we needed to freshen up before a train journey! Four hours later we arrived in Brighton and after a few hours of catching up settled down to a Mumma Bird roast dinner. Now she can really cook a roast dinner! One day we’ll be able to get it down to such a fine art.

On Saturday night we went out for dinner in Brighton, which was something of a rare treat. We don’t get to visit as much as we would like, and Daddy Bird isn’t that keen on going out, meaning that Fats had never eaten out in Brighton with the Bird clan! We went to Pomegranate which is a contemporary Middle Eastern restaurant right in Kemptown in the centre of Brighton, easy walking distance from Bird’s house. The Birds had been before, nearly 6 years previously for Bird’s 18th birthday and though the memories are a little hazy they are good ones. After dithering at the expansive menu we decided on some starters to share. We had two lots of Turkish sausage, one of baba ganoush with sliced pitta bread and one of stuffed vine leaves. The baba ganoush was smoky and creamy, the vine leaves were tangy and lightly spiced and the spicy Turkish sausage was beautiful – sliced thinly and then fried until crisp.  We washed this down with some merlot before our mains arrived.

The senior Birds both chose the Sizzling Chicken – juicy chicken pieces and vegetables drizzled with the restaurant’s signature butter and yoghurt sauce and served on a huge flatbread with rice salad and some mixed leaves. It also came served with a spicy dip on the side if you like your chilli (which all of us do!). We both tried a little of the chicken which was beautiful, and the portions were extremely generous.

Bird plumped for the vegetarian version, a pitta bread came topped with mixed sliced red peppers, mushrooms and spinach, then a layer of 3 thick-cut grilled aubergine slices which were smothered in a lemon and tahini sauce, a layer of 4 thick-cut courgette slices and finally 2 huge slices of tomato. This was served with a brilliant bulgar rice salad, tomato-y, spicy, gorgeous! Like all the mixed leaves of the evening these came dressed in pomegranate molasses which proved a clean, tangy flavour to cut through the tahini.

Fats chose the beef and pomegranate – there’s not a lot to say about this apart from that it was simply delicious! A healthy volume of grilled beef chunks were served peppered with pomegranate (are you beginning to spot the theme?) – the fresh bursts of flavour contrasted really nicely with the charred flavour of the beef.

Finally we shared a dessert, dried whole figs stuffed with a honey, walnut and pomegranate paste – the perfect way to finish off the evening. We then wandered/high-kicked (á la Ministry of Silly Walks) our way back along the seafront, extremely full and satisfied. The bill came to around £120 including service charge for 4 starters, 4 mains, 1 dessert and 2 bottles of lovely wine – very reasonable! We would say we’ll definitely be back but given how infrequently we’re in Brighton and how many brilliant restaurants there are it might take us a while to get back round to Pomegranate.

The Stable – Review

We’ve just got time tonight to write our first restaurant review!  (That is if we can see through the cider haze…)

The Stable is a brand new restaurant/bar on the Bristol harbourside.  Their tagline is “Pizza, Pies, and Cider” and though it would be hard to disappoint with such an awesomely simple concept they really deliver.  It is set inside one of the old warehouses by the harbour.  Inside the spacious, high-ceilinged restaurant long tables are arranged with benches, which really helps to create a west country farmhouse atmosphere.

We both grabbed a cider as soon as we got there, as part of the “Tuck-in Tuesday” special offer – a pizza, a cider and a side salad for £10 (bargain! Living up to my “Fats” moniker) – and ordered a Harbourside Herbivore (West Country blue cheese, spinach, potato, roasted red onion, tomato and mozzarella – Fats) and a West Country Porker (Bath Pig Co. chorizo, mozzarella and rocket – Bird).  Both were delicious!  Thin and crispy bases, incredibly tasty toppings.  This place really stands up for itself as a pizza restaurant in a city where it’s not difficult to find amazing pizza.

The West Country Porker
The West Country Porker

Of course it would be sacrilege to visit without trying the cider, even on a work night…  Between us we tried quite a selection (although we didn’t quite feel up to sampling all 30+ varieties).  Our favourite was Devon Red – tangy and sweet, perfectly refreshing.  We can’t wait to try the rest of them, although we might have to spread it out a bit between visits.

Pizza and Cider - inspired combination!
Pizza and Cider – inspired combination!

The Stable comes highly recommended, make sure you get there soon!