Food: 9 Atmosphere: 8.5 Drink: 8 Overall: 9
Nestled in the heart of Easton, within earshot from St Marks Road, new stylish Scandi restaurant Dela awaits. Hidden inside an old Victorian warehouse, Dela marks the latest venture by food professionals Lara Lindsay and Mike Orme (who previously hosted events at Bristol’s prestigious Hart’s Bakery). Dela, meaning ‘share’ in Swedish, focuses on communal eating, with beautifully presented sharing boards catered for meat-eaters and veggies alike. Seasonality and provenance is at the heart of their dishes, with an evolving menu with current servings of fresh kale salad, roasted butternut squash and maple glazed parsnips.
Dela’s Scandi cuisine is seamlessly matched by its surroundings. Stepping inside, you’re met with leafy furnishings, industrial metal shades and great ventilation pipes outlining the ceiling. Exposed brick walls are painted white to maintain a light and airy atmosphere, along with deep grey walls adding necessary warmth and depth. The old warehouse windows welcome light into the space, and the room itself is filled with laid back jazz and conversation amongst prying diners. Considering its new beginnings, the place is surprisingly busy for a Sunday afternoon, with news of their roast menu and ‘sharing feasts’ going down very well with customers.
For starters, five separate items were placed on a long wooden board: heritage tomato, shallot and goats curd salad, pressed beetroot terrine, an ‘Autumn salad’, sourdough bread and rye. For once, presenting food on a long wooden board serves its purpose, and this time its effortless in its approach (bearing no resemblance to the garish attempts seen in restaurants up and down the country). Dela’s website declares all food is locally sourced and ‘constantly changing’, with an added bonus of their home-grown veg to taste. Surprisingly, the highlight was the Autumnal salad: kale, cranberries and seeds, soaked in a balsamic dressing which leaves your mouth watering. Slices of sourdough and rye are there to be generously loaded with salted butter and goats cheese (or even perhaps the tomatoes and beetroot to be piled on top of each other). All of this can be enjoyed for an impressive price of £6. Considering its portion and variety, this starter would be perfect for a princely lunch for two (and for £3 each, there’s no other lunch quite like it). Up next was the Scandi spin on a Sunday roast.
For the meat-eaters, a quince roast pork belly, with caramelised fig and apple (£14). For vegetarians, a maple glazed parsnip and chestnut loaf with feta (£12). Together they were served with generous portions of seasonal veg: roast hassellback potatoes (a trendy spin on your typical roasties), heritage baby carrots, roast squash, orange and almond, beetroot gratin with a sourdough crumb and buttered cavolo nero (a variety of kale). Due to the nature of communal eating, veggies are free to tuck into the heavenly sweet bowl of figs and apples, whilst meat-eaters have license to sample the nutty chestnut loaf (which was, undeniably, dela-licious).
Proving hard to pick a favourite, as each dish was an essential addition, nevertheless a unique dish in its own right, it was agreed that the hassellback potatoes and beetroot gratin tasted extra special. Dela’s roast thrives in its lighter approach to your typical hefty Sunday lunch, leaving you satisfied, yet far from feeling uncomfortably, regretfully full. The only let-down was the inadequate sized water jug purchased from the Ikea across the road, (though commendable in its keeping with the Scandinavian theme), resulting in endless attempts at hailing down the waitress for tap water. It was hard not to overhear conversations between the neighbour tables. Communal eating and its phenomena proves an exciting experience for everyone, with questions ready to be fired following the arrival of the food. Luckily, one half of Dela’s ownership Mike was nearby, greeting diners and answering questions as they impatiently await their feast.
Considering the variety, quantity and most importantly the quality, Dela’s pricing can be justified. Particularly the starter sharing boards, for £6 the portions are almost too generous (though this should not be complained about!). The staff were attentive and knowledgeable, and you can easily tell they love the food as much as they hope you will too. Dela is deserving of the buzz its generates, and is certainly worth the £1 train from Clifton to Easton. A second, third and fourth visit for breakfast, lunch and dinner is definitely on the cards.