Mark Taylor

We try the new menu at the Bristol restaurant now regarded as one of the best in the UK

Many of the dishes are cooked over real fire

When it comes to accolades and awards, it has been a phenomenal year for Bristol restaurant Bank. 

Soon after it was included in The Good Food Guide’s list of Britain’s 100 Best Local Restaurants in 2023, the restaurant in Totterdown was named as one of the UK's Top 100 Restaurants for 2024 by SquareMeal.

Word certainly seems to be spreading fast about this restaurant in a former bank on the Wells Road and when we returned this week, it was busier than ever despite the sun shining and a lack of outdoor space for diners.

We were there to try some of the dishes on the new menu, which has built on the restaurant’s sharing plates concept with what owner and founder Dan O’Regan says is an increased emphasis on ‘social feasting’. 

“Social feasting is a natural fit for Bank, as our food takes inspiration from cooking traditions that originated around a communal fire. Sharing has always been at the core of our offering, but we’ve definitely noticed a shift towards group feasts over recent months. 

“While on the one hand you have diners looking for more casual dining options, on the other you’ve got a real squeeze on personal finances – which means dining out has to be a special experience, often shared with a wider group of friends. We’ve tried to reflect this in our new menu and can’t wait to see what people think. We keep hearing that the Tasting Menu is dead. Well, I say, long live the feast.”

The dishes on the new menu retain the wood-fired cooking style that head chef and co-owner Jack Briggs-Horan has built his reputation on over the past four years, while offering more flexibility for groups of all sizes.

Moving from a menu built around small plates with some larger dishes, Bank now offers more large sharing plates with the option of smaller versions, as well as some new centrepiece specials.

Between the two of us, we shared a range of the smaller new dishes before feasting on one of the specials for two or more people to share.

A dish of English asparagus, gnocchi Parisienne, creamy Green Goddess sauce, burnt leek, herbs (£12.70) was light, fragrant and summery. It showed a delicate hand in the kitchen.

Similarly, super-fresh red mullet was paired with smoked cod’s roe, a spritz of yuzu and sweet charred red pepper (£10.70). Again, a dish of perfect poise.

Cornish octopus, cucumber and burnt grape salad, Thai green curry, cashew (£13.30) was sweet and crunchy but the sweetness of the meaty octopus wasn’t overshadowed by the spicy green curry flavour.

A dish of barbecued duck breast (£16.70) sliced into pink fingers was given a more classic treatment with petit pois à la Française, crunchy radish, spicy chipotle and orange.

The main course to share was the Hereford Cross sirloin, rendang, grilled bone marrow, charred pineapple (£72) which would have been enough for three people and maybe even four with side dishes.

The beef had been cooked medium-rare as requested and the rosy pink meat was impressively tender. The rich grilled bone marrow and robust rendang sauce was countered by the sweet sharpness of the hot pineapple.

We also shared crispy polenta with chilli oil and sesame (£6.50) with a surprising amount of heat and spice, and a delicate side of baby gem, miso Caesar and Parmesan (£6.50) that was essentially a cool twist on a classic Caesar salad and very good indeed.

To finish, sticky coconut rice pudding was teamed with a really interesting smoked mango sorbet, caramelised pineapple and fragrant makrut lime (£8.50) to produce a dessert with pronounced and aromatic Thai flavours. There was also some unadvertised puffed black rice to give the dish added crunch and texture.

A smoky burnt lime and rosemary polenta cake (£8.90) was served with a silky smoked beetroot ganache with an earthy sweetness and a sharp and zesty elderflower and apple sorbet.

I’ve eaten at Bank several times since it opened four years ago but this was the best meal I’ve had there.

The new menu is well balanced, full of interesting flavour combinations and there are some nice surprises along the way.

The cooking improves each time I eat there and it’s easy to see why Bank wins so many accolades and awards. There are sure to be even more on the way. Bank, 107 Wells Rd, Totterdown, Bristol BS4 2BS. The restaurant is open from 5pm- 10pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 12noon-10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 12noon-5pm on Sundays. You can book tables via www.bankbristol.com.

Scroll through to see photos of the new dishes on the menu:

Word certainly seems to be spreading fast about this restaurant in a former bank on the Wells Road and when we returned this week, it was busier than ever despite the sun shining and a lack of outdoor space for diners.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.