Food: 8 Drink: 7 Atmosphere: 9 Price: ££ Overall: 8
Wonderful, weird and whacky- a restaurant to make you feel so at home you may end up getting lost down the rabbit hole.
You arrive at The Cauldron through a curtained entrance, and enter the magic show. The décor sustains this fantasy and a little trippy atmosphere with an entire wall covered in a spray painted mural of a woodland scene (I was told this was ‘very St. Werburghs’ – whatever that means). You’re seated at long solid wooden tables that create a really communal atmosphere, reminiscent of a family dining table. Perhaps this easy familiarity and homeliness made us the last table left in the restaurant, although I rather suspect it was the delicious drinks that The Caldron brew up.
Marina O’Loghlin summarised The Cauldron as ‘Mad: a bit. Delicious: absolutely’, and I can’t help but agree. Having recently been featured by the Hairy Bikers, the Cauldron is definitely worth a visit – and most definitely worthy of the hype. These guys won Bristol’s Good Food ‘best supporter of local produce’ Award, and narrowly missed out on ‘best newcomer’ and ‘best vegetarian’ being shortlisted for both.
We started our evening off with a glass of ‘pignoletto frizzante’ (at £4.50 a glass). The wine list was relatively extensive, and in line with their sustainable, community oriented ethos – there is a section labelled ‘end of bin wines’ which contained wines bought at reduced rate from suppliers who have small quantities of wine that they’re unable to sell. We ended our evening well after the kitchen closed with a digestif of Burrow Hill Iced Cider (at £3.20 a glass). This intriguing drink was described as ‘like cider on steroids’, and it certainly had a stronger effect on us than your average Thatchers. It’s made by freezing apple juice, reserving the ice, and then fermenting the naturally concentrated juice into ice cider. Cool, refreshing, and very alcoholic. What more could you ask for?
The food was as unusual, and just as delicious. All dishes are served in black skillets creating a very rustic feel that added to the family home feeling. There was something to please everyone on the menu with vegetarian, vegan and gluten free dishes on offer. Despite being shortlisted for ‘best vegetarian’ the menu included exceptionally meaty dishes, like ‘sticky pig stick’ and ‘cumin seared ox heart’. Their menu is centred on earthy ingredients, such as beetroot, parsnips, carrots and radishes, and cooked in traditional, rustic methods- charcoal grill, wood fire and, of course, the cauldron. These elements and methods give the food an authentic feel, but don’t mistake this humbleness for being primitive or basic. The care and passion for quality of their ingredients reflects strongly in the end product.
The high value they place on local produce is reflected in their ethos. St Werburghs is the home to an inner-city oasis that is Bristol’s urban farm, and so it is perhaps unsurprising to find The Cauldron here, priding themselves on serving up ‘ethically and locally sourced creative fare’. This results in a menu that changes every 7-10 days, dependent on what’s available. And when they say local, they really do mean local; The Cauldron works with 24 businesses, producers, growers, and suppliers within St Werburghs itself. Chefs Henry Eldon and Lucia Gregusova sustainable and local ethos comes through strongly in what they choose to cook.
If you make it to St Werburghs to visit The Cauldron, why not continue the magical fairy-tale atmosphere by grabbing a pint at The Duke of York round the corner. Despite the rather traditional sounding name, this pub is really something else. I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I’ll just leave you with this image: imagine Willy Wonka meets Alice in Wonderland meets a bowling alley.
Gluten free, vegan, and vegetarian dishes available
http://www.thecauldron.restaurant/ St. Werburghs
Photography: Jacob Colman and The Cauldron