If there’s one thing we can’t turn down here at SaucyPans, it’s the chance to gnaw on some ribs (well, maybe not Cat with her vegan tendencies, but Lia and Shonette are definitely fans), so when Beefeater asked us to come and check out their recently refurbished Bristol branch and rejigged summer menu, we thought it only fair to head along and sample their wares.
The Bristol branch of Beefeater is nestled at the bottom of the Premier Inn next to the Bearpit – now whilst this has traditionally been a bit of a deadzone in the past few years, the Bearpit has been significantly spruced up of late, and so it’s no longer the case that you’d only find yourself around this part of town if you were waiting for a bus or going to shopping nearby.
I’ll confess that I hadn’t been to a Beefeater in several years on the evening we went along – I have good childhood memories of going in to their restaurants on family days out, but as an adult I’ve not found myself tempted by the fairly standard menu, especially seeing as I always try to visit new or slightly unusual places in Bristol.
First impressions: As you walk in you can either head downstairs to the bar area or up to the restaurant – despite this being signposted at the entrance we still managed to miss it and instead loitered in the bar feeling confused for a bit.
We decided to be sophisticated and start with a bottle of red wine between us – it cost around £14 which is fairly average for this part of town.
So, once we realised that we were in the wrong area, we tried to go upstairs – but were told that one of the staircases is used by staff only to bring down food from the kitchen, so we skidaddled over to the other side of the bar and up to the restaurant via the other staircase. The restaurant is pretty huge, with several booths and big tables and the kitchen running along one side.
We took our seats and perused the options – the lighting is low and moody so you’ll have to excuse my photos, it was hard to get a snazzy shot!
The menu is fairly comprehensive and mainly geared up around beef (surprise surprise) and grilled meats. There are a few options for vegetarians, although it’s definitely a place aimed at meat eaters.
We started with the Beefeater Sharing Platter (£9.99 – Spicy piri piri chicken wings, breaded mushrooms, beef koftas, chilli & lime potato dippers and freshly grilled chimichurri flatbread, served with a selection of dips), and also decided on Pulled Beef & Yorkshire Pud Slices (£5.89), mainly just because we thought it was such a weird thing to have on the menu as a starter!
The platter came up with generous portions – a decent amount between two people I’d say (but we’ve already established that I’m quite greedy, so decide for yourselves). The Piri Piri chicken was nice and tasted like it had been dipped in Frank’s Red Hot sauce, the koftas were well seasoned and tasty, and my friend also approved of the potato wedges.
The other parts of the platter were fairly standard and probably would have been more exciting if the dips hadn’t been quite so bland.
The Yorkshire pudding slices were little yorkshires halved and served with a pot of pulled beef and the horseradish soft cheese dip, which looked and tasted more like sour cream – it was a pretty basic dish with not much flavour, but if you really like Yorkshire puddings and don’t want to wait until Sunday lunch you’d be happy.
Now it was time for meat. I’d ordered the sirloin steak (£15.99), with my friend opting for the BBQ chicken ‘n’ ribs (£13.99, although we upgraded to a full rack of ribs for an extra £4.49). The steak was a decent size and cooked medium as requested. It had a nice char from being flamegrilled, and very little gristle.
The béarnaise sauce that came with it was a bit watery and again quite bland, so didn’t really add anything to the dish. The chips were good – although anyone who knows me knows I have a seriously issue with chips arriving in cups, buckets or pots when they could just be on the plate.
My friend was very impressed with the ribs – she’d requested a full rack with her chicken and the whole portion barely fit on the plate. The sticky BBQ sauce on the ribs was tasty, and the chicken was nicely cooked too. Both mains were good, although I think the ribs were the real winner here, as I know better places to get steak in town that have earlybird offers cheaper than the Beefeater menu, but I guess it depends on the sort of place you’re looking for on the day!
Overall, despite it being a long time since my last visit, Beefeater didn’t hold any surprises; it’s still a decent place for travelers and shoppers to stop into if they’re looking for a big meal on a budget, but it does little to compete with the local food businesses, especially when you consider the ascendance of nearby Haymarket Walk as Bristol’s new food destination.
If you like steak and ribs and aren’t too fussed about atmosphere then this place is fine, and the service was also top notch during our visit; it’s just hard to see much more of a mass appeal when the competition in town is so stiff at this price point.
Beefeater: Bristol Fashion
T: 01179 298953
Disclaimer doodle: This meal was provided free of charge, but we were not asked to write a positive review, or asked to send any copy in advance, or do anything else that would compromise our mega integrity and professionalism*.
*You should’ve seen the state of me after those ribs, seriously.