I was super excited to be visiting Casamia for lunch – even the two and a half hour drive from London to Bristol didn’t even deter me. It’s owned and run by Bristolian brothers Jonray and Peter Sanchez-Iglesias whose food I’ve eaten before at The Cube pop-up on the Southbank – and loved.
The restaurant used to be owned by their parents who ran the place as a traditional Italian trattoria but now the dining room has been transformed into a modern, bright and airy space with an open plan kitchen. We were seated at the counter overlooking the kitchen, meaning we got to watch all the action unfold.
An eleven course tasting menu (which changes with the seasons) priced at £75 was all that was available making ordering a rather easy task.
Some rosemary focaccia with Arbequina olive oil got things off to a very pleasant start indeed. The bread was expertly made; spongey and light with a salty crust. The olive oil tasted divine and we were given the bottle so we could pour as much as we wanted.
A mini quiche Lorraine was next and was the best God damn quiche Lorraine I’ve ever eaten. It had an almost mousse-like texture with a moreishly salty flavour from the bacon and the pastry that encased it was perfectly crisp.
Next was chilled broad bean soup with a mint snow. This couldn’t have tasted any fresher – it was a total taste of summer and I loved it. It was like eating something fresh from the garden – in a good way! The snow had been made using liquid nitrogen which gave it a freezing cold temperature.
Tomatoes and mozzarella were next which was far more complex and intricate than its simple description. The ball of mozzarella was not your usual rubbery cheese, it had been tinkered with to create an almost moussey texture which went brilliantly with the sweet tomatoes.
We then watched one of the chefs compose a salad which had rather a lot of components in it. He meticulously tweezered each mini leaf and baby vegetable and placed them in a bowl resulting in a truly stunning dish. We were given our own large tweezers with which to eat the salad – unusual but surprisingly easy. It was coated in a light lemony dressing which was perfect – the most intricate and unusual salad I’ve ever eaten!
The wild sea trout with sea herbs and cucumber was the sort of dish that I didn’t want to finish – each mouthful was sublime. The trout was so soft; masterfully cooked. The sea herbs, in particular the sea aster were unlike the usual rubbery leaves I’ve eaten before – here they were soft and chewable.
I had eaten our next dish before at The Cube; duck with carrot and fennel. It tasted just as good as it did back then – the sweet carrot against the aniseed from the fennel were the perfect companions for the moist medium-rare duck. Yum!
The following dish was a crossover from savoury to sweet which provided the most intriguing bend of flavours; pea, ricotta and lemon. It had all the textures of a cheesecake and the pea and lemon went surprisingly well together – they shouldn’t have but they did!
Our first dessert of peaches and cream was served in a pretty wooden peach. Inside was the lightest peachy cream I’ve ever encountered – it impressively dissolved in my mouth in seconds.
We were then kindly treated to the apple pie that Peter cooked in 2013’s Great British Menu (normally £12 extra). The pie itself looked beautiful; a delicately thin pastry case covered some apple purée, chunks of apple and vanilla ice cream – which I thought was rather impressive. If that wasn’t enough it was then covered with custard and some dry ice was poured into a separate little pot packed with cloves filling the air with a gorgeous aroma. It looked rather fun too. As you can imagine, it tasted wonderful.
Next was a real highlight; Amedei chocolate, toast and lavender. The chocolate had been made into the lightest of mousses which had a subtle yet enjoyable hint of lavender and the crunchy toast on top provided some much desired texture. It was brilliant.
Our final dessert wasn’t quite as memorable as its predecessors but was still thoroughly enjoyable. A trifle glass was filled with strawberry jelly (which had been set with no sugar), a strawberry granita and some tarragon infused meringues. It was a fruity little number which wasn’t too sickly sweet.
I had expected that I might enjoy my time at Casamia but what I didn’t realise was quite how much. What added to the whole experience was chatting to both Peter and Jonray (and their Dad Paco who popped in to say hello) – they’re all such lovely guys. After our lunch we were given a tour of the kitchen and their development kitchen – it all looked rather impressive.
It was easy to see how Casamia had been given a Michelin star; the food really was outstanding. Throw that together with a friendly and charming front out of house and two of the nicest chefs you’re ever like to meet and you’ve got yourself a cracking restaurant. If you haven’t been to Bristol before, then a trip to Casamia is the perfect reason to go.
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