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Monday, 16 March 2015

Casamia, Bristol.

Me and Mrs Bacon agree on most things, especially when it comes food. In restaurants we do tend to share more or less the same tastes and opinions. We have jointly experienced almost all of the high end meals over the last sixteen years, so it seems natural and obvious. But not always. I thought it'd be interesting for us both to give our thoughts on a recent trip to one star Casamia in Bristol.
Mr Bacon. Whilst I enjoyed the experience there was something missing for me. It is true that my expectations were very high but I just felt that I wanted to be utterly overwhelmed with food, that one sublime moment. Although it was all good. I was expecting a signature dish and at least another meat or fish dish for the price. £68 for the taster menu is about right in the week but it's £88 at the weekend which isn't quite worth it for me in comparison to restaurants of a similar ilk. We can now only afford restaurants like this a few times a year so the stakes are so much higher.
We have a brief chat with chef Peter Sanchez Iglesias and he mentions that it is a bit trickier in Winter as they have fewer ingredients that they prefer to work with, in comparison to the other seasons. Could they then not adjust their criteria a little? I know the seasonal, local thing is a very important and integral concept at Casamia (there are wintry photos adorning the walls) but if I'm visiting in Winter I still want to be blown away as I'm spending nearly £90 plus wine and service.
The service at Casamia is absolutely wonderful especially from Mr Sanchez Iglesias Senior. We all enjoyed chatting about Spain and food and wine with him. He is such a large part of the enjoyment of the evening.
Mrs Bacon. 
This has developed due to our difference of opinion. Although both Mr Bacon & myself strive for the ‘blow away’ dish and the ‘mmm’ moment, I am a little bit country and he’s a bit rock and roll. He’s more into richness, such as the meatiness of a wonderfully cooked (and seasonal) Hogget. Although I enjoy rich intense flavours too, they can slow me down on a mega taster menu. I love the subtle tastes of veg and fish as well.
We kick off with a pretty little pre starter snack on cracker.
Mrs B. A deliciously crunchy cracker encompassing tasty blobs of all things crisp and creamy, it impresses me from the start. I know it’s going to be a good night!
Then Sage & onion Broccoli, Colston Bassett, beautiful luminous green little tart-lets.  Mrs B. Biting into what appears to be a well manicured garden bush, can only be described as the most intense broccoli experience that I’ve ever had. Then follows a fabulous wave of cheesiness.
Sourdough, Ivy house butter.
Mr B. The bread is excellent but for me, it shouldn't be a separate course. In a restaurant like this it should be offered regularly and generously throughout the evening. I feel a bit awkward asking for more later, like Oliver Twist. It is so good though that I can't not have another piece.
Mrs B. A lovely piece of bread. Reluctantly I give half  to Mr Bacon, I need to last the distance!
Winter salad, goats curd. Mr B. Pleasant enough, it reminds me of a Simon Rogan salad. But that's often when you have about 15 other courses on a long taster menu surrounding it.
Mrs B. Beautifully sculptured this dish for all of us feels reminiscent of our experiences of Simon Rogan’s way with vegetables, especially the drawing out the distinctive flavours,  eg. the turnip is so turnipy! Then there’s the delightful contrast of the goat's curd.
Mushroom, spelt.
Mr B. I'm not wholly convinced by this one either. It has a vinegary kick which doesn't quite work for me although it's not unpleasant. I really want that creamy comforting feeling that you often get with a risotto.
Mrs B. Not really a risotto, although I don’t think it’s even trying to be. Here I really love the powerfully flavoured wild mushroom goo combined with melted cheese and crunchy spelt, mmm…
Brown trout, cabbage. Mr B. A pleasant winter dish, it's fine but just that.
Mrs B. Not a remarkable dish but still enjoyable, especially the crispy cabbage.
Fallow deer, parsnip.
Mr B. My favourite of the mains, the deer like a wonderfully rich steak.
Mrs B. An amazing cut of tender meat, prepared to perfection. (Firstly I had to tell Mr Bacon that there would absolutely not be any going spare!)  I nearly cried when I finished my last piece!
Venison belly, hoisin sauce, venison bread crumbs, hay mayo.
Mr B. An extra course and another winner for me.
Mrs B. As this arrives at the table the aroma of smoky hay just hits you. Then the exploding bonbon of gorgeous venison, for me is an absolute wow moment.
Mr B. All the desserts are excellent, very strong. Personally speaking I'd prefer only one or two puddings to be replaced with a few more mains.
Tunworth, pear.  
Mr B. Like the best cheese cracker you're ever eaten. Mrs B agrees!
Celery root rice pudding. 
Mr B. This comes in a puff of smoke and is absolutely gorgeous.
Mrs B. A dish of gloriously creamy yum, yet not too heavy.
Blood orange, rosemary. Another beautiful winner we both agree.
Variations of rhubarb. Mrs B. Again, I can’t fault it. Loved the sorbet element, which with its’ subtleness was perfect to end on.
Finally Petit Fours; Vanilla, fudge Dark chocolate, pistachio, lime Marshmallow Bromley turkish delight Cherry Newell.

So there you have it, two slightly differing opinions about the same  meal at Casamia.
As accomplished as it is, I found it to be a little short on absolute total joy but that may have been tempered by my own preconceived expectations too. In the end it all comes down to personal taste though as Mrs Bacon doesn't quite agree.
In conclusion, Casamia is very firmly in the one Michelin star category and I would return but in another season perhaps.


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3 comments:

  1. Looks nice but there doesn`t seem enough there to fill you up. Some nice camera angles and nifty focusing on the cheese cracker. Cheers folks , enjoyed the post.

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    Replies
    1. Cheers! Agreed, really wanted more food for the price.

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  2. Such a shame you weren't blown away. Perhaps season has something to do with it as we tried the Spring menu and it was worth 3 stars. The best meal we ever had.

    Have a read and let me know what you think :)
    http://www.itsgrimupnorth.co.uk/2014/06/casamia-bristol.html?m=1

    ReplyDelete