Towards the end of the summer last year, I took a trip to Bristol. My pal Miss M lives there, and the balloon festival was on, and it seemed like a good time to go. We had a weekend of balloons and drinks, ukuleles and discoballs, a seven hour Disney singalong and, of course, food.
The seven hour Disney singalong began at midnight. You can therefore imagine that our heads (and tummies) were feeling a bit tender the next day – or, indeed, later that same day. We eventually surfaced for a late lunch, and Miss M suggested Brace and Browns as the place to go. Alongside a basic but solid menu, they serve up tiny tapas versions of your pub favourites – Caesar salad, fish and chips, lamb cutlets are transformed into miniature versions of themselves, which of course means you can choose all three of them and pander to that ‘I want one of everything’ feeling.
The menu has changed a little since my visit – which I can only take as a good sign – but some of the things we bought are still there. For example, the aforementioned mini fish and chips with its decorative tartar sauce trail…
Or the mini burger, beautifully cooked and a little tricky to eat without mess, as the best burgers are…
I also ordered calamari, in a crisp and hangover-sating batter and served with a garlic aioli and a perplexing bundle of what I can only presume were chives. My final choice was a little bowl of garlic and rosemary roast potatoes, a concession to the fact that it was Sunday lunchtime and we were eating tapas instead of a roast dinner. It was the best of both worlds, really.
Miss M ordered pork belly, which I photographed awkwardly (and unnecessarily) from across the table – I loved the way the pork was presented, with coriander, radish, spring onion and a cucumber roll delicately arranged on and around the meat. Her last item was a little tartlet, and for the life of me I can’t think what was on it. Some kind of cheese, for sure. Artichoke? Peppers? Ah, the mists of time, how they do make a mockery of us all.
While we weren’t on top form, Brace and Browns were – the food was all excellent, and the service friendly. I’m particularly partial to serving all the food on a wooden board, which saves the plates jostling for space on your table and also, let’s face it, it looks fancy. A bit of fancy does a person good.
Tapas is £4.50 each, 3 for £12, 4 for £16 or 10 for £35. There are a lot of numbers in that sentence, I can only apologise.
For the record, Brace and Browns did not invite me to eat at their restaurant, did not know I was writing a review and we paid for our meal as regular (I hesitate to say normal) customers.