Jump to content


Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the Society.

Photo

Casamia


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 PhilD

PhilD
  • participating member
  • 706 posts
  • Location:Hong Kong

Posted 15 February 2009 - 03:22 AM

I had read quite a number of positive reviews and comments about this suburban restaurant in Bristol. The award of it's first Michelin star in the '09 guide prompted me to book.

The restaurant is in Westbury-on-Trym which is about a 15 to 20 minute, or £12 to £15 cab ride, from Bristol Temple Meads station. It has quite an intriguing history, opening as a traditional suburban trattoria by Paco and Susan 10 years ago, and now with Susan and Paco running FOH with their two young sons Jonray and Peter cooking extremely good Fat Duck/El Bulli inspired food. Would this be a good piece of marketing spin, but a bad restaurant?

It is a good restaurant - one we will return to. It truly has a family run atmosphere, Susan and Paco are beaming about the Michelin star and are clearly proud of their boys. The room is text book trattoria with garish pictures of medieval European cities, wrought iron work and exposed beam. This is offset by very plain table settings, a minimalist menu and smartly dressed black clad waiting staff. It feels real - not the result of a makeover from a design consultancy.

At lunch on Saturday we had a choice of a short set menu or a six course tasting menu, IIRC the set menu was £20 for three courses, whilst the tasting menu was £30, or £45 including wine. We went for the six courses and wine. I started with a glass of Palo Cortado to go with the amuse of good olives and little pappadums filled with shaved parmesan, walnut dust, and a cube of quince paste. The wine list has a good selection of sherry as Paco is Spanish (I didn't ask why he had started a Trattoria) and sherry has a strong link with Bristol, in-fact the first two wine pairings on the menu are also sherries.

Bread is home made and served with a quenelle of what seems to be "whipped butter" - I have had this in the US a few times and do prefer a good hunk of real butter...!

Posted Image

The first course then arrives "Hot - Cold Lime Gin". Good flavour and a good hot/cold sensation as you drink it:

Posted Image

This is followed by "Wood Pigeon-espresso-almonds" served with a Solera Oloroso-Bodegas Hidalgo. A small piece of meat cooked sous vide, with an Amaretto foam, some crushed almonds and then smear of coffee with coffee powder. I liked bits of the dish, although the coffee had quite a bitter note, however my partner loved it and thought it a great dish. The sherry pairing worked really well:

Posted Image

The next dish was the highlight for me, "Salmon - fennel - mushrooms - Jerusalem artichoke - lemon" served with Amontillado La Concha-Gonzalez Byass. The salmon is silky soft again cooked sous vide, the artichoke puree is intense and the fennel and lemon is soft and translucent, and minced mushrooms and mushroom powder add an interesting contrast. All the flavours work really well together and again the sherry was a great match:

Posted Image

"Roast quail - celery root - grapes - hazelnut" is served with a Dolcetto D'alba 2007, De Forville. Another sous vide preparation (?), intense flavours in the celery puree, counteracted by a soft grape jelly, with the nuts coming in through the crisp nutty biscuit. Overall a good dish complemented by the wine:

Posted Image

We had planned a long lunch, and had skipped breakfast so I was concerned I was going to still be hungry (and thirsty) at the end of the meal so we decided to add a couple of cheese plates and another glass of Dolcetto. I was a little fearful that the late order of the cheese would mean fridge cold specimens, but no, we got four good portions of well kept cheese with excellent biscuits, a runny Somerset brie, Pecorino, a stilton, and a Mrs Kirkham's Lancashire:

Posted Image

Our first dessert is designed to be a transition from sweet to savoury - "Poor mans truffle - apple-turnip risotto" is a apple rice pudding with a turnip foam. It is quite interesting, we didn't get the truffle experience, but the contrast between the turnip and apple does work:

Posted Image

The last dish on the menu is "Deconstructed Tiramisu" with a glass of Aleatico Salice Salantino, Francesco Candido. It was OK, but actually tasted better reconstructed, maybe a bit of style over substance:

Posted Image

We ended with coffee and petit fours. Good coffee and interesting petit fours, a white chocolate sheet with dried olives (which reminded us of one of the chocolates we tried at Anthony's piazza in Leeds) and some intense, soft, lemony, Turkish delight:

Posted Image

Overall a really good meal, fantastic friendly service, a smart/comfortable room, and some creative cooking that generally delivers on flavour. Often attempts to pull of "Molecular Cooking" end in disappointment but the team in the kitchen pull it off with good technique, deep flavours and well thought out flavour combinations. We will return to try the ALC and the extended tasting menu that is available for dinner. The bill for two was £140, which was £90 for two tasting menus including wine, £18 for two cheese plates (we would have been OK with one), £10 for coffee and petite fours and the balance for a few extra glasses of wine and the aperitif.

#2 spanielking

spanielking
  • participating member
  • 115 posts

Posted 15 February 2009 - 08:58 AM

Cheers for the report. I don't remeber coming accross this place pre michelin. It is always good to find new places to add to my ever increasing list of places to visit. I guess one good thing about Michelin is that it occasionally gives a heads up to smaller places that I would of never of thought of (Like Turners in Birmingham), but there is still more to eating out than stars. Unfortunatly it is hardly local for me (210 miles according to multimap!) The grass is always greener......... :rolleyes:

#3 Gary Marshall

Gary Marshall
  • participating member
  • 2,334 posts

Posted 16 February 2009 - 01:29 AM

that presentation & menu looks very anthony's -esque.....
you don't win friends with salad

#4 PhilD

PhilD
  • participating member
  • 706 posts
  • Location:Hong Kong

Posted 18 February 2009 - 11:33 AM

that presentation & menu looks very anthony's -esque.....

View Post


Which makes Anthony's lack of a star seem very odd. Unfortunately haven't tried Anthony's so can't say if one is better than the other. But given my experience at Casamia, Michelin can't be accused of only recognising traditional French, and, to my knowledge it has almost come from nowhere, so no "waiting to see if it survives" delay.

#5 Gary Marshall

Gary Marshall
  • participating member
  • 2,334 posts

Posted 19 February 2009 - 12:47 AM

that presentation & menu looks very anthony's -esque.....

View Post


to my knowledge it has almost come from nowhere, so no "waiting to see if it survives" delay.

View Post


err, hasn't it been in the family for a generation? hence quite stable despite change in cuisine?

not quite a start up!

as an aside quiqe dacosta did the same with el poblet in denia, took his father in-laws restaurant over, changed to an ultra modern cusine and promptly halved the takings in the first year, only recovering when he won a star and subsequently two.
you don't win friends with salad

#6 Man

Man
  • participating member
  • 333 posts

Posted 19 February 2009 - 01:42 AM

Very good report, thanks! The only question, I guess, is where to have lunch after all those amuse-bouches. :smile:

#7 david goodfellow

david goodfellow
  • participating member
  • 1,352 posts
  • Location:midlands

Posted 25 July 2009 - 10:56 PM

Anybody else apart from Jay Rayner been here recently

http://www.guardian....ner-restaurants

Certainly seems worth a visit, especially with those bargain basement prices :smile:

#8 PhilD

PhilD
  • participating member
  • 706 posts
  • Location:Hong Kong

Posted 26 July 2009 - 04:20 AM

Anybody else apart from Jay Rayner been here recently

http://www.guardian....ner-restaurants

Certainly seems worth a visit, especially with those bargain basement prices :smile:

View Post


We ate there again last month, I booked the 10 course dinner menu for lunch with a group of friends. It was very good, the each dish is small but overall the meal filled us up and some of the flavours and combinations are very good. If anything it was better than out first visit in Feb.

I agree with Jay's niggles apart from the Tiramisu which I though worked quite well (and I am usually cynical about deconstructed dishes)

#9 david goodfellow

david goodfellow
  • participating member
  • 1,352 posts
  • Location:midlands

Posted 26 July 2009 - 05:23 AM

Anybody else apart from Jay Rayner been here recently

http://www.guardian....ner-restaurants

Certainly seems worth a visit, especially with those bargain basement prices :smile:

View Post


We ate there again last month, I booked the 10 course dinner menu for lunch with a group of friends. It was very good, the each dish is small but overall the meal filled us up and some of the flavours and combinations are very good. If anything it was better than out first visit in Feb.

I agree with Jay's niggles apart from the Tiramisu which I though worked quite well (and I am usually cynical about deconstructed dishes)

View Post


Thanks Phil,

According to their website, " Coming soon " 2 new menus priced at £40 and £55.

Waiting to get a reply as to opening times as it does not list them on the website(except lunch).

#10 iainpb

iainpb
  • participating member
  • 113 posts
  • Location:Bristol, UK

Posted 27 July 2009 - 02:12 AM

Ate here at the beginning of July, and it really is outstanding food. The hot cold gin fizz is a real delight, the very seasonal betroot risotto was something i would never have considered ordering but was simple and delicious. Highlights for me were the salmon poached in olive oil, the roast quail and the deconstructed tiramisu. Ths is easily one of Bristol's finest restaurants

An update on their website and via twitter tells us they are ditching the a la carte and offerign just two tasting menus.

I wrote a full review of this restaurant for a local restaurant review site so dont want to repeat it here but if can you see it by clicking here

#11 eatenmess

eatenmess
  • participating member
  • 98 posts
  • Location:England

Posted 30 July 2009 - 05:40 PM

in the 'lovely' city of Bristol on saturday, may see if i can pop in for some lunch before i man a friend's merchandise stall at a gig he is doing there. Will keep my mind working as i attempt to flog CDs and T-shirts.

the only bad thing ive heard about it (from both Jay Rayner and also a friend who went there recently) was the defacing of Tiramisu.

fingers crossed ill have the time to go there as its definitely on my (long) list of places to go.

#12 Gorro

Gorro
  • participating member
  • 14 posts

Posted 02 June 2011 - 09:04 AM

Casamia 001.jpg

Whilst the décor of Casamia is understated, the food is the opposite; traditional Italian ingredients with bold flavours are given a creative twist to produce exceptional dishes. The meal last night was one of the finest I have ever eaten and is perhaps second only to Simon Rogan’s L’enclume in terms of creative wizardry.

The dinner menu is restricted to a choice between a 5 course (£45) and 8 course (£68) seasonal tasting menu. As it was a special occasion and we are very greedy there was no question that we were going to opt for the larger of the 2 menus and what with the inclusion of a couple of extra freebie bonus courses and an optional extra cheese course (£10) we calculated that by the end of the evening we had pushed close to the 12 course mark. Mrs G was nearly defeated by the quantity of food. However, I can proudly announce that I wiped clean every single plate clean and finished off quite a lot of the wife’s as well.

Before I move onto the main event I should just mention the friendly and highly competent service. It was interesting to note that almost every dish was served by one of the chefs who cooked it. It’s a rather nice touch having the person who’s cooked your dish with such passion present it and introduce it to you at the table. I’ve never experienced this before and wonder whether this is a trend which began at Noma (I saw it on Masterchef!) which is gradually beginning to spread further afield? Jonray in fact served one of our courses and I was taken aback by how friendly, down to earth and normal he seemed. We had a brief chat about his beloved Manchester United. It was apparent the success of owning and cooking in one of Britain’s best restaurants hasn’t brought an ego to match.

So onto the food and I’ll sum up my review now in case you don’t make it through the marathon of photos. The food being cooked at Casamia by the Sanchez-Iglesias brothers is truly inspired and is worth a pilgrimage from anywhere in the UK.

Nibbles to start the meal included crisp salted almonds & macademia nuts, fresh & flavoursome green olives, a beatifully fresh focaccia with a good flavour of olive oil and the highlight of homemade breadsticks with an unbelievably good white truffle creme fraiche dip.

Casamia 011.jpg
Casamia 003.jpg
Casamia 004.jpg
Casamia 005.jpg

First Course - Scrambled duck egg, smoked duck, thyme. Almost creamy scrambled egg, almost veloute; flecked with pieces of smoked duck and wittily served in an egg case, this was eggcelent.

Casamia 006.jpg

Second Course - Wild boar salami, Sheep's curd, carrots, pesto. A perfect balance of flavours and visually stunning on the plate; the sheep's curd cheese was creamy and packed full of flavour as was the salami, the pesto delivered an intense basil hit, whilst the light leaves and carrot puree softened the dish.

Casamia 007.jpg

Third Course - Beetroot, barley, iced yoghurt, pickled fennel - Essentially a beetroot risotto but with barley subsituted for rice. The sweetness of the beetroot was well balanced by the yoghurty sorbet. In addition some crunchy barley on top of the dish provided a welcome textural constrast. This was Mrs G's favourite dish.

Casamia 008.jpg

Fourth Course - Salmon poached in olive oil, Italian garnishes, Jekka's herb sauce. I remember this dish from the Ramsay's best restaurant TV programme as some customers were put off by the appearance of the salmon. The sousvide method of cooking the salmon results in it appearing raw even though it is perfectly cooked so that it melts in the mouth. This is one of the most tender pieces of fish I have ever eaten. My only criticism of the dish was that the flavour of the salmon was a little lost behind a lovely creamy fennel sauce and a garnish of caperberries. There were some delighfully crisp pieces of lemon skin sitting on top of the salmon; I could have eaten a whole bag of them.

Casamia 009.jpg

Fifth Course - Iberico pork, mushroom, apple sauce, celery root. There were some big flavours going on in this dish which in the wrong hands could have overpowered the delicacy of this beautiful piece of pork. However, the acidic apple sauce (hiding in a little jar at the top of the screen) cut through the intensity of the white truffle risotto perfecly to bring the taste of the pork to the fore.

Casamia 010.jpg

Sixth Course - Cheeses. A lovely selection of local cheeses; a mature brie, a caerphilly, a stilton-esque number and something else.

Casamia 011.jpg

Seventh Course - Cherry sorbet, Aged balsamic (20 years I think?) - A really interesting palate cleanser. The balsamic vinegar tasted like eating a wooden barrel on its own but provided a wonderful earthy, smokiness to the dish.

Casamia 012.jpg

Eighth Course - A salted chocolate mousse with bits of lavender (I think?) on top. We were brought a complimentary glass of fizz with the dish which was a lovely touch. The mousse was rich and chocolatey with a hint of salt running through it. I am a massive fan of salty, sweet things so this ticked every box.

Casamia 013.jpg

Ninth Course - Pine nut pannacotta, amalfi lemon sorbet, smell of the amalfi lemons. This dish was breathtakingly theatrical in its presentation. We were presented with a bowl of lemons over which was poured liquid nitrogen to create a wonderfully fresh aroma. The theatre which preceded the dish was not let down by the dish which followed; a creamy, wobbly, subtly pinenut flavoured panacotta was balanced beautifully by a sharp lemon sorbet. This was my standout dish of the evening. Wow.

Casamia 014.jpg
Casamia 015.jpg

Tenth Course - Traditional Tiramasu (1981) the smell of Renato's Numero Uno. A simple, perfect Tiramisu. A jar of coffee beans with a beautifully intense aroma of coffee was presented with the dish. A touching message explained why the brothers had decided to include a traditional tiramisu on the menu as it was the dish which inspired their love of Italian cookery. I must admit I've only ever eaten tiramisu with alcohol in it before and the absence of it in this iteration provided a welcome lightness to the dish aswe were both getting pretty full by this point.

Casamia 019.jpg
Casamia 021.jpg
Casamia 023.jpg

Coffee and Petit Fours - An excellent cup of decaffinated coffee. Specially made chocolates included milk chocolate, banana and passion fruit as well as dark chocolate & juniper berry (I've never tasted juniper berry outside of a gin context and it was deliciously different). A silver dish of the softest, wobbliest rose turkish delight inspired by Narnia was also served. Finally a dehydrated chocolate biscuit was brought out by the chef which we were recommended to consume immediately. This was because the biscuit had been dehydrated in liquid nitrogen and so was still cold and released a puff of smoke from our mouths on consumption. Brilliant fun.

Casamia 025.jpg
Casamia 026.jpg

#13 Andrew

Andrew
  • participating member
  • 158 posts

Posted 13 October 2013 - 12:57 PM

This restaurant has been getting increasingly good reviews. Has anyone been here recently?

 

Andrew



#14 Andrew

Andrew
  • participating member
  • 158 posts

Posted 24 November 2013 - 11:04 AM

Much has been written about this restaurant and the two brothers who head up the kitchen. Even more remarkable than the column inches is the fact it is all positive. I have wanted to visit the restaurant for some time and finally made it there last week.

 

The concept is that the menu changes with the seasons. I believe they also change the décor. The degree to which the décor changes I’m not certain but the pictures hung on the walls were very autumnal so I assume they change. I understand this year they are having a fifth menu (over the Christmas period).

 

The menu consists of a no choice tasting menu. They do ask when you book if you have any dislikes / allergies so I assume any real problems with the menu can be picked up then. The menu on the evening I visited was different to the one on their website and the one that has been so eloquently written about by various bloggers and professional critics.

 

Given the number of reviews and descriptions of the food I’m not intending to give a full account but concentrate on the highlights, a few ‘issues’ and differences with the advertised menu.

 

The restaurant is just outside Bristol (an £11 cab ride from the centre) and is tucked away with an understated entrance. Front of House was excellent. The restaurant use to be owned by the current chef’s parents. The father was around for the whole evening and is clearly very proud of his son’s achievements. He acted as an excellent host. He was supported by excellent staff who were both friendly and knowledgeable. A nice touch is that all the food is served by the chefs who explain the dishes they have prepared.

 

The night I visited the two brothers were not there, they were in Moscow cooking at an exhibition event. Whether that made a difference to the quality or the actual menu I don’t know.

 

From the ‘advertised’ menu brassica salad was replaced with an excellent crab cake with apple and fennel. This was a really well executed dish, with some amazing flavours. I can’t believe the dish it replaced was any better. It was one of my three favourite dishes. The other two being the smoked salmon and the truffled duck egg.

 

For the fish dish the hake was replaced with cod but the rest of the dish seemed to remain the same. This was my least favourite dish. I really did not like it and found the ‘leek ash’ over powering to the degree it over powered the whole dish and made it taste burnt. I did wonder if the quantity of ash was the result of some heavy handed action by a less experienced chef and had the head chefs been on it would have been more subtle. Having said that, given the quality of the rest of the food it may just be that this dish was not for me!

 

For the main course partridge was replaced by pheasant and later on there was a total change of desserts. Blackberries and oats was replaced by pear and bay and the plum soufflé was replaced by the ‘signature’ GBM apple pie. Normally the apple pie is offered as an additional dessert. Personally I was disappointed the advertised soufflé was not being served. I am a lover of soufflés and had read very good things about their plum version. The quality of the apple pie was not a surprise given how well it did in the GBM.

 

The quality of the cooking is of the highest degree, there is some real innovation but not for the sake of it. Everything they do has a reason and the execution is top draw. I have no doubt that this restaurant is ‘going places’ and there is no reason why they can’t build on their burgeoning reputation. For me the test is would I go back – there is no question. I’m looking forward to trying their winter menu.



#15 Andrew

Andrew
  • participating member
  • 158 posts

Posted 12 April 2014 - 04:40 AM

Since my last post (about the autumn menu) I have been able to revisit (twice), once for the winter menu and then the spring offering. As must be clear from the fact I have been back I am a fan!

 

Each time the food has been top quality. After my 'winter' visit I came away having enjoyed all the courses except the fish course. I did wonder (given my experience during the 'autumn') whether the way they cooked fish was not for me. Well that theory was blown away in the 'spring'. This time the John Dory with cider and greens was top quality.

 

If you get the chance to visit, you should go. I will certainly be going back when they release the summer menu.

 

Andrew