We tried the delicious ‘fire-cooked’ menu at a south Bristol restaurant

Ratte potato, whipped Cheddar and marmite foamRatte potato, whipped Cheddar and marmite foam
Ratte potato, whipped Cheddar and marmite foam | bank
The Totterdown venue now cooks much of the food over real flames including the Sunday roasts

When spiralling electricity and gas bills are crippling so many restaurants, it seems only natural for BANK to turn to cooking over real flames instead. The Totterdown restaurant has installed a new bespoke ‘fire kitchen’ which means smoke features in dishes on the new spring menu.

The new menu has been curated by head chef Jack Briggs-Horan, who previously worked at Bristol restaurants The Ox, Seven Lucky Gods and Four Wise Monkeys.

A seasonal menu, it will be available from noon through to the evening, which is something of a departure for owner Dan O’Regan’s restaurant, which has until now been open for brunch and (really good) coffee.

He says: “In the last few months we’ve been working on shifting our efforts to serve one menu throughout the day and evening that focuses on incredible, seasonal dishes, designed for sharing. We’ve got an amazing new fire kitchen, and our new menu will be focussed around the art of cooking over live fire.”

Also new at BANK will be the launch of Sunday roasts for the first time since opening in 2021. Again, the food on Sunday lunchtimes will be cooked over open flames, which is a unique selling point.

On the launch night of the new all-day menu attended by local and national food writers, influencers and a sprinkling of Bristol celebs, I got to try most of the new dishes. Bolstered by some excellent cocktails (always a strength at BANK) and wine, the small sharing plates for the table just kept on coming over the course of the evening.

Before that, there were ‘snacks’ including bite-size pieces of grilled focaccia (£4.20) smothered with three deliciously different toppings - crab butter, kimchi rouille and black garlic amino butter. Also impressive was the ‘nduja arancini (£3.20), the richness of the spicy arancini well balanced by the zesty yuzu and cool crème fraîche.

Chicken thigh yakitori, hot sauce, pickled celery slawChicken thigh yakitori, hot sauce, pickled celery slaw
Chicken thigh yakitori, hot sauce, pickled celery slaw | Bank

Of the small sharing dishes, stand-outs were the chicken thigh yakitori (£8.40) - tender pieces of meat with a piquant ‘hot sauce’ and fresh and crunchy pickled celery slaw - and the Atlantic prawns (£12.30) gem lettuce slightly charred over the flames, red onion and an indulgent lobster aioli.

Also good were the vegan dishes of smoked cauliflower (£7.70) with a thick and creamy tomato and peanut sauce and tangy green harissa, and a full flavoured combination of purple sprouting broccoli with nutty ajo blanco sauce, fennel and black garlic (£8.40).

If BANK has one signature large sharing dish, it’s the Duroc pork belly and Galician octopus (£16.70), which makes a welcome return on the new menu.

The signature pork and octopus dish at BANKThe signature pork and octopus dish at BANK
The signature pork and octopus dish at BANK | BANK

The slow cooked pork and chunks of octopus have a similarly meaty texture and the combination with Thai-style ‘weeping tiger’ salad heady with mint, coriander and fish sauce, crunchy half moons of cucumber, juicy orange segments and fruity cherry hoisin is a winning one and almost too good to share.

A dish of bone marrow (£15.30) was slightly less successful, the rich and tender oxtail rendang lacking the expected heat and the pineapple salsa a little underwhelming. It was a dish that promised more than it delivered but it’s a new dish and one that simply needs a gentle tweak.

Worthy of a special shout-out is the side dish of ratte potatoes (£5.50) covered with a duvet of whipped Cheddar, a hint of marmite and a sprinkling of furikake (basically, powdered seaweed). If there’s a more comforting, moreish side dish in Bristol, I have yet to meet it.

Pineapple tarte tatin and mezcal ice creamPineapple tarte tatin and mezcal ice cream
Pineapple tarte tatin and mezcal ice cream | Bank

A hot and juicy pineapple tarte tatin (£7.30) with crisp, buttery pastry and a boozy Mezcal ice cream came neck and neck with the whipped peanut butter brûlée toped with brownie crumble (£6.70) although it would have been nice for the banana to be roasted rather than cold.

A dish of goat’s curd (£7) with smoked almond granola and raisins that lacked the advertised rum was enjoyable but maybe more of a posh breakfast dish rather an after-dark dessert.

OK, a couple of dishes on this smoke-inspired new menu haven’t quite hit the spot in these early days, but considering the amount of food sampled, there was always going to be the odd blip.

The decision to serve the dishes throughout the day is a wise one as it sends out a message that BANK is now a serious food operation rather than a cafe that only morphed into a proper restaurant at night.

Of course, I’m sure laptop-wielding WFH locals can still pop in for a coffee and a snack during the day but the new menu is now more likely to tempt foodies from further afield. Whisper it, but some may even cross the river into south Bristol to dine.

I’m already looking forward to going back to try those Sunday roasts cooked over the flames. By then, I’m sure the new kitchen will be really firing on all cylinders.

BANK, 107 Wells Road, Totterdown, Bristol, BS4 2BS.