We tried the new menu at a cosy and tucked away Bristol pub that’s perfect for autumn
‘The place was jumping and it was great to see a local pub so busy’
With so many shiny new eating places opening in Bristol over recent years, it’s sometimes easy to forget old favourites.
The Kensington Arms is certainly one of those old Bristol stalwarts but then this long-running Redland gastropub tends to only grab the headlines when it comes to its famous Sunday roasts.
Although it’s still busy and popular, the food served the other six days of the week doesn’t tend to get the recognition it deserves and that’s a shame as The Kenny - as the locals like to call it - is quietly and modestly knocking out some of the best food in Bristol under the watchful eye of talented head chef Oscar Davis.
The pub is part of Josh Eggleton’s empire (think The Pony in Chew Magna, Salt & Malt in Wapping Wharf and others) but Davis is pretty much given free rein when it comes to the menus.
In an area where £2m price tags are regularly attached to houses for sale, The Kenny could easily be described as one of Bristol’s poshest boozers but it’s refreshingly down-to-earth and attracts a harmonious mix of drinkers in the bar and the restaurant. Squirrelled away between the terraced houses off Chandos Road and the railway line, it’s also nicely off the beaten track.
The pub’s outdoor terrace may be the go-to alfresco spot in summer, but the cosy bar and restaurant are the perfect refuge in autumn and winter.
On Saturday evening, there were students, families and couples in both areas and a party in the upstairs function room. The place was jumping and it was great to see a local pub so busy in these straightened times.
The restaurant area has a smart Cotswold pub look with high claret-painted ceiling, leather banquettes, scrubbed pine tables and walls dotted with paintings of game birds, tall-hatted chefs and corpulent Victorian gents.
The open kitchen is at the far end of the dining room so diners can watch Davis and his team at close quarters.
The menu changes all the time depending on the seasons and what arrives in the kitchen each day from the network of trusted suppliers. There’s also a blackboard of daily specials running alongside the printed menu so lots of choices to make.
We kicked off with two of the best-selling starters and they lived up to it. Plump and quiveringly fresh hand-dived scallops (£14) the size of a baby’s fist were teamed with lozenges of dark and sticky malt-glazed pig cheek and peppery leaves.
Wagyu beef bavette (£14) was deep-flavoured and sliced into rosy-hued fingers with fleshy pickled girolles, flat-leaf parsley and a peppercorn jus.
For mains, a dry-aged Hereford rump cap steak (£31) was served with a Cornish lobster sauce studded with bite-size pieces of sweet, firm lobster, nutty roast celeriac and horseradish, with a bowl of golden triple-cooked chips on the side. It was a take on surf and turf but far more interesting than the hackneyed original.
From the specials board, a generous piece of Brixham brill (£29) on the bone was perfectly cooked, juicy and thick-flaked. It was surrounded by a velvety chicken butter sauce, girolles and crisp new potatoes flecked with slices of radish and crunchy shards of bacon. A great dish.
Waistbands straining, we still managed to find space for an exemplary sticky ale pudding (£8.50) with vanilla ice cream and cider butterscotch sauce, and a bitter and dark chocolate brownie with caramelised white chocolate, honeycomb and raspberry and clotted cream ice cream (£7.50).
It was fine meal in a friendly neighbourhood pub tailor-made for long bibulous lunches with mates and lingering dinners with the family.
Much as I love trying out new places to eat, it was just nice to be back at an old favourite that doesn’t change too much but where the food gets better with each visit.
The Kensington Arms, 35-37 Stanley Road, Redland, Bristol, BS6 6NP.