Food 8.5 Drink 7 Atmosphere 9 Overall 8.5
Love is in the air. If you’re in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is a wonderful time to celebrate what you share with your loved one. If you’re not in a relationship, Valentine’s Day sucks. Readers falling into either category, we have the answer for you: dine out. Enjoy a meal and a glass of wine with your loved one if you’re lucky in love, or enjoy a meal and a few bottles of wine if your single. Either way, we know just the place to go...
The bustling scenes of Gloucester Road’s Promenade are nothing without the beloved Gallimaufry, Bristol’s friendliest independent, serving creative small plates and classic British staples. The Galli is an expert at many things, not only in the field of casual dining, but also in its standing as an eclectic art space and music venue.
Perhaps the epitome of a true Bristol independent, The Galli prides itself as a showcase of seasonal food, up-and-coming musical talent and contemporary art, all wrapped up into one brilliantly dynamic space. Upon entering, the place seamlessly merges into all things at once: guitarists gearing up for an evening performance; business meetings ran out back; the restaurant busy working its magic. Its latest installation, an assortment of upcycled objects, covers the ceiling with glistening waves of colour; the surrounding walls encasing the room with a hodgepodge of antiques and local artwork.
The raised levels of the restaurant boast an undeniably romantic scene: rustic wooden tables occupy a dreamy spot overlooking the busier scenes at the bar, decorated with flowers and lit by candle light. The décor’s magical aura and charm is similarly matched by the menu, with mavericks in the kitchen serving creative seasonal dishes with a twist. Starters cover an appetising scale of harissa hummus, rosemary salted chips, fried ham hock with pickles and padron peppers. For mains, the traditional meets the creative, with highlights including the spatchcocked partridge with pancetta, lentils, cranberry & kale (£14), rainbow trout with fennel, beetroot, oats & anchovy butter (£12), and a butter bean, celeriac, kale & chestnut salad (£8).
Veggies, vegans and pescatarians – you are spoilt for choice here. Jerusalem artichoke, leek & brie gratin with chicory & walnut salad (£11) seemed a perfect choice for me - however the more traditional likes of the tagliatelle with tomato, caper, olive and spinach (£10), likewise grabbed my attention. My meat-eating company opted for the rump steak with bourguignon sauce, fondant potato and sprouting broccoli (£15).
I didn’t have a particular idea about how my main would look. I was spell-bound on its arrival. The artichoke and leek gratin was served in a separate dish, whilst an overflow of chicory and walnuts bordered the bowl. The chicory’s woody texture and the soft crunch of the walnuts proved a superb pairing, whilst the artichoke, creamy leek and brie was in fact a match made in heaven. The Galli’s creative and quirky personality certainly resonated in this dish. The rump steak likewise proved successful, (for a student, anyway), though the fondant potato ideally would’ve been substituted for the creamier likes of dauphinoise.
The Galli’s take on dessert deserves enough attention as their mains, with a sickly-sweet handful of tarts, puds, fondants and crème brûlées - sprinkled of course with their signature creative spin. Naturally, we couldn’t resist. After a full peruse, I surrendered to the homemade whisky marmalade pudding, drizzled in orange syrup and served with a dollop of dark chocolate ice cream (£5). The warm, gooey sponge and the piquant, zesty marmalade paired beautifully with the rich ice-cream; a true champion of comfort. My suitor, on the other hand, enjoyed a rich chocolate mousse, served with crème fraiche and topped with a layer of candied walnuts (£5). Both dishes scored extremely high on our lists - indeed something to dream about for hungry days to come.
Not only is the quality fine, but the price affordable, with mains ranging from £8-15 and starters averaging at £3. The service was terrific; all the staff were incredibly attentive with big smiles all round. With everything looking, feeling and tasting home-made, it’s inevitable restaurateurs will succumb to The Galli’s charm. Make no mistake, it’s an informal place, however there is something so enchanting, that it may just be the ideal hideout for a lovely, laid-back Valentines evening.
Sounds like your type of place? The Galli are offering a wonderful Valentines menu, with 3 courses for £30 per person.