A couple of weeks ago, when we spent the weekend in Bristol, we ended up at a bit of a loose end on the Saturday. We had planned to go to the zoo but the car park was full and no-one was really that keen to go - D was resistant and I just wasn't feeling like the walking around.
So, we ended up heading for Portishead, an area that I haven't been to before.
We seemed to end up going around a large new housing estate not really getting anywhere but finally ended up parked outside Hall and Woodhouse and were immediately intrigued. From the outside it looks like a combination of a chic diner and a cargo container - I wish we had a few more shots of the outside to show you but this will have to suffice: -
Inside is equally quirky - feeling a bit like you are in a someone's laid back study - surrounded by nicknacks and books. There are also cute little warnings around - 'here be dragons' should you head up the wrong stairs on the way to the toilet. D was entranced by the cartoon characters (Johnny Bravo and Jessica Rabbit) on the toilet walls. The stalls were all covered in old Beano comics too - a really quirky look.
As we knew we were going to The Thali Cafe in the evening, we decided to go for a few sharing plates between the four of us and then settled in to wait - D greatly enjoying his soda water in a big boy glass.
We ended up with three dishes between us - chilli cheese chips for the meat eaters and the bread board and the mezze board for everyone.
This is the mezze board, with pitta, garlic flatbread, falafel, houmous, salsa, olives and crisp breads. We probably had a little bit too much bread all in all (can you ever?) but it was great to have so many different types. The houmous was thick and tasty and didn't have that slightly watery quality that the supermarket versions offer. I would have liked a bit more of it and of the falafels - three felt too few but then having said that, we were sharing between four of us.
The bread board featured a really good range including this extremely tasty walnut bread. The balsamic vinegar was really strong and extremely tasty - D couldn't get enough of it! His mouth kept puckering up, his eyes kept watering but he kept going back for more and more.
After this, we couldn't help but be attracted to the mini puds. 6 little desserts for a tenner. I also made a beeline for a coffee - I'm a sucker for a well presented cup and this really was - with a really tasty bit of shortbread on the side.
It didn't take long for the desserts to arrive - it featured from top to bottom - lemon curd syllabub, a cold rhubarb crumble, raspberry cheesecake, winter berry crumble (cold), tiramisu and strawberry panna cotta.
Despite my initial reservations about the cold crumbles, all of these were really nice. D loved the strawberry panna cotta and I really liked the combination of biscuit base, raspberry coulis and creamy cheese sauce. My only complaint is that the biscuity/crumbly ones were far too easy to get all over the table - as the glasses were filled to the brim.
Between the four of us, this was just about right.
All in all, our meal came to about £30, not bad when the four of us felt quite satisfied but not overfull at the end. I have plans to get to another in the chain. Jekyll and Hyde (recently frequented by Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence) is not that far from us and I like it there - although Mr K is less convinced. I really want to have a better go at the vegetarian options - homity pie is something I haven't had since my days as a student in a vegetarian restaurant in Exeter.
After our meal we did a bit of a wander nearby, watching the boats coming in to the quay and checking out some interesting sculptures.
D particularly loved this mooring point - referring to it as a chef's hat.
Portishead was an interesting place to go for a few hours - I'm unsure if there is more to explore on another date. I'd be tempted to go back for the pub alone. We did find an unusual Irish/Italian hybrid restaurant as well that had a menu I just couldn't make my mind up about.
Where have you been recently that surprised you?