The Jetty restaurant, Bristol, review: A restaurant with a hotel, not a hotel restaurant

Kate Snow dines at the city centre hotel restaurant set inside a former bank, which serves up sophisticated and unpretentious dishes, with separate menus for vegetarians

Kate Snow
Friday 07 April 2017 16:12 BST
While bar stools line the marble-topped bar overlooking the kitchen, hanging Iberico hams and jars of preserves adorn it
While bar stools line the marble-topped bar overlooking the kitchen, hanging Iberico hams and jars of preserves adorn it

Located on Corn Street, the city’s historic banking quarter, and set within a former banking hall, the Jetty is a hidden jewel. Part of the self-named luxurious Bristol Harbour Hotel & Spa – a chain that has blossomed across the south of the country – the restaurant could easily be mistaken for a standalone venture as any pretence of being in a hotel restaurant easily slips away. And the side-street entrance accounts for the rest of the diners being exclusively non-residents – a reassuring sign.

This is the fifth instalment of the seafood restaurant Jetty family, which opened in October. Its grand interior is made up of nautical green and blue tones and plush, elegant turquoise seats with traditional Bristol blue glass in the windows, high vaulted ceilings and intricate parquet flooring.

While bar stools line the marble-topped bar overlooking the kitchen, hanging Iberico hams and jars of preserves adorn it.

The menu – designed by Alex Aitken, the creator behind the group’s restaurants – is seafood heavy and pleasantly surprising. It’s innovative, but won’t have you googling every other ingredient as many over-thought descriptions might.

Expect unusual and unpretentious pairings such as the duck and squid main dish – served as a sliced duck breast with a slice of squid stuffed with slow cooked duck leg and extra salt and pepper crispy squid and wilted chard.

Aside from the seafood, there’s plenty of meat with an almost eye-watering choice of five steaks with little room for anything meat-free. Luckily there is a whole vegetarian and vegan menu, but there’s an awful lot to choose from.

The scallops, with bacon and apple
The scallops, with bacon and apple

Fear not – everything has been cleverly thought out, as there’s a rather convenient “whilst you choose” section of the menu to aid you. We were recommended the ”famous Jetty bites”; two mini crisp breads with taramasalata, smoked salmon with cream cheese and caviar, octopus in a tiny copper frying pan and half a scotch quails egg with hollandaise – essentially a mini posh picnic. The Scotch egg was the stand-out item, making it a shame there was only one and we had to share. Other options include local pickled cockles, chicken popcorn and tempura vegetables.

I started with the scallops, which were cooked perfectly, where the saltiness of the bacon was balanced by the sweetness of the apple. The Jetty Sashimi, which on the night consisted of mackerel, tuna, salmon and scallop, was served with fiery wasabi, pickled ginger, soy and a refreshing Asian salad laid out on two long serving plates. Perfect for letting you show off your chopstick prowess – or lack thereof.

The Gold Bar, opened in January, is offset from the restaurant
The Gold Bar, opened in January, is offset from the restaurant

Having perused the example menu online, I was happy to see the cod and crab I’d set my heart on was on the evening’s menu. The brown and white Devon crab meat was elegantly placed on the cod fillet and topped with a crust which provided a great contrast to the creamy mashed potato and crushed peas. I ordered the “side of the moment” – a mixture of curly kale and toasted almonds; a great combination which may well make an appearance on my next dinner party menu.

The wine menu is extensive, ranging from £22 up to £180. We opted for the very drinkable PGR (pinot gewurztraminer riesling) to suit a mixture of fish and meat. And to finish, the myriad of desserts were each paired with an optional sommelier’s choice of dessert wine. The espresso martini sabayon (recommended by our sever) was one of the highlights of the evening. The well balanced flavours alongside the stracciatella ice cream, biscotti and chocolate shavings won over my dessert-shy dining partner, as did the warm chocolate fondant, served with all things cherries – the kirsch variety, black cherry sauce as well as cherry ice cream cherries.

After finishing off our dessert wine, we had after-dinner drinks in the Gold Bar (which opened in January). It has plenty of secluded seating and impressive domed ceilings – the perfect setting for a post-dinner cocktail or two. The Jetty comes across as not a hotel restaurant, but a restaurant with a hotel.

A three-course a la carte meal for two, with a bottle of wine and two after dinner cocktails, is around £130.

Ambience *****
Service *****
Value ****

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