Restaurant Review: The Mint Room, Clifton Village in Bristol
For delicate dishes, punchy flavours and creative cooking, The Mint Room in Bristol’s Clifton Village offers all of this, with a little spice.
The award-winning Indian eatery has sister restaurants in the city centre and Bath, and serves up great combinations of food, beautifully presented. I visited on a Friday evening after a few tasty cocktails at nearby Goldbrick House and enjoyed everything that was brought my way.
Upon arrival my guest, Nick, and I were shown to the contemporary style lounge, with its dark walls, tables and flooring contrasting with the white brick fireplace feature creating a stylish and relaxing environment. We were swiftly handed a cocktail and some deliciously crisp popadoms. I enjoyed a ‘Twinkle,’ which consisted of vodka, lime, champagne and elderflower, while Nick enjoyed a passion fruit cocktail.
We cast our hungry eyes over the menus, which offered up a variety of dishes from traditional favourites to a la carte options to a seven course tasting menu. Items on offer across the menus included Pudina lamb tikka, Chicken Lababdar and Tandoori grilled monkfish tail fillet in a nut and yogurt marinade. We made our choices from the a la carte menu and were shown to our seats in the restaurant, which was buzzing with Friday night cheer.
Our starters didn’t take long to arrive and I tucked into my tasty Tawa scallops with Kaffir lime and cucumber. The grilled and seared hand dived scallops were served with a creamy and flavourful Kaffir lime and fresh green chilli sauce, tempered cucumber, cumin and toasted peanuts. The flash of green on the dish caught my eye and the delicate scallops were not overpowered by the spices – they were nicely complemented – while the nuts added a nice crunch.
Nick had ordered ‘Quail 3 ways’ and was very pleased with his choice. The first quail element had been marinated and cooked in the Tandoor and Nick described this as rich and dense in flavour. A crispy quail leg lollipop also sat on the plate, which was described as refined, gently spiced and flavoursome, and a soft, fried quail egg finished off the dish well with a vanilla and apple purée and radish garnish.
Our main courses and accompanying side dishes were a showcase of the chef’s talents, with an array of flavours and cooking styles sitting on the dishes. I enjoyed a marinated fillet of halibut in a green chilli spice paste, crispy crab fritters with lemon and coriander, pickled baby carrots and a tomato and cumin dressing. There was a large bone running through the fish, which I didn’t enjoy but I did like the meaty, firm fish with its accompanying flavours. My favourite element was the delicious and crisp crab bon bon.
Nick had opted for the Tawa duck – roast duck breast with crispy onion bhajis, flavoured with garam masala with an apple and sultana and black mustard chutney sauce. He said the duck was beautifully cooked with a melt in the mouth texture, while the bhaji was delicious. He also enjoyed the wines chosen with his dishes, as did I. Along with our choice we were also brought out a seafood moilee, which is a Southern Indian classic of mixed seafood including scallops, octopus, mussels, prawns and squid cooked in coconut milk and tempered with mustard seeds and red chillies. A jeera aloo – roasted new potatoes, with ginger, garlic, chilli and cumin – and a peshwari naan were also enjoyed by us both. The seafood curry was mild, creamy, sweet and tasty, and all of the flavour combinations, fantastic colours, and textures on the plates married so well to create a flavour filled meal.
Before we sampled desserts we took a little break to enjoy our drinks and to take in our surroundings. The contemporary style of the lounge filtered throughout the restaurant, proven by the bicycles that hung on the exposed brick walls. Monochrome décor mixed with low hung black lamps and dark wood furniture to echo the creative and buzzing atmosphere of the city itself.
Back to the food to sample some of the delightful desserts. We were brought a selection of treats to devour and greatly enjoyed the taste and presentation of each one. The first plate was nimbu bhapa doi, which was baked yogurt with lemon, served with a cardamom biscuit, strawberry sorbet and citrus jelly. Plate two was a vanilla sponge, raspberry jelly, cinnamon custard, candied nuts and raspberry sorbet and our third plate was a trio of vanilla, coconut and rose ice cream. From gentle, creamy textures to sharp, citrusy tastes to dense and fruity flavours, each element was well prepared and well executed with presentation being high on the chef’s list.
Overall we enjoyed our meal – none of the dishes were overly spicy, which was a shame as we do like our spice but they were all full of lovely flavours. The restaurant was crowded, if not a little boisterous, but what else would you expect from a busy Friday night?! And a packed restaurant is a sure sign of winning food, of course!
In a nutshell
It may not be the most refined, or a Michelin star restaurant (yet!) but the atmosphere was fun, the staff were so welcoming, friendly and helpful and the food was enjoyable. Just what I wanted to kick start my weekend in Bristol, and the cocktails weren’t too bad either!
Address: 12-16 Clifton Rd, Bristol BS8 1AF / 01173 291 300