29 11 2011

About this time 12 months ago, I wrote that Alfred’s in Kingsdown was one of the most exciting restaurant opening of the year in Bristol. Closing very shortly afterwards and now home to 40 Alfred Place, it showed what I know, as well as how perilous the restaurant business is. Peril is most definitely still here, but I can now pronounce that Poco is one of the most exciting openings of 2011.

In a move more familiar to American sports franchises than Bristol restaurants, Zazu’s Kitchen, formally on this site on the corner of Jamaica Street and Stokes Croft, has jumped sticks and moved lock, stock and barrel to The Mall in Clifton.

In its place comes Poco, offering a New York-style brunch menu from 8am until mid-afternoon featuring bacon butties (£4), scrambled, poached or fried eggs on grilled sourdough (£3.50), Chew Magna smoked salmon with cream cheese (£6), and Moroccan and Moorish scrambles (£6) – homemade sausages or chorizo with scrambled eggs and coriander on grilled sourdough.

Lunch and dinner consists of a seasonal collection of tapas, which today for lunch included cabbage soup in cured pork fat (£3.50), salads (£2 per portion) and sourdough sarnies and wraps.

My first choice of organic pork belly sandwich with caramalised onion (£5.50) had already sold out, so I plumped for slow roast muttin with cumin, the meat deliciously tender with bread Hart’s Bakery would be proud of.

Poco is the younger brother of Poco Loco, a festival cafe and the brainchild of Tom Hunt, former head chef at Aqua Italia on Welsh Back before a year’s sabbatical in Latin America saw him inspired by their cuisine. Tom then returned to England where he worked alongside Hugh Fernley Wittingstall as sous chef and food demonstrator for River Cottage HQ.

Gone is the baby blue of Zazu’s Kitchen. There are now whitewashed walls with a giant blackboard taking up the far wall in the light and airy dining room, the day’s specials alongside a colourful illustration by Mark Childs, whose more permanent works on canvas are dotted around the restaurant.

The front section is now dominated by what looks like a drystone wall. There are benches to sit on here, with peppers and hams hanging in the windows.

What remains familiar is the open central kitchen, now behind white and green tiles, and when I visited this lunchtime populated by three chefs working away furiously.

It’s a shame that Zazu’s owner Toby Bywater has felt the need to move his establishment up the hill to Clifton, but Poco is a more than worthy replacement, and on first visit I can safely proclaim it to be one of the most exciting restaurants to open in Bristol this year. Let’s hope it can live up to expectations.

Poco, 45 Jamaica Street, Stokes Croft, Bristol.




One response

30 11 2011

Thankyou for the review were all having a lovely time, cooking furiously in the kitchen. New dishes being created each day, as we explore the world of tapas with as many british ingredients as we can get hold of.


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