The best romantic restaurants in Bristol
If you’re anything like us, food is a language of love. It isn’t just about sharing a bowl of meatballs Lady-and-the-Tramp-style, but also digging into an indulgent desert together, trading bites of each other’s main or gushing about starters. Food can be a pretty magical thing whether it’s a first date or ten year anniversary, so we’ve rounded up some of the best romantic restaurants in Bristol to get the mood just right.
No.4 Clifton Village
No.4 Clifton Village’s Galley has all the hallmarks of the grand Georgian mansion house it’s located in. Big bay windows allowing natural light to spill onto the rustic wooden floors, fireplace, antique radiators, Georgian coving and sconces. The burgundy floral wallpaper doesn’t hurt either, adding opulent accents to a rather quirky space. The pendants remind us of little umbrellas, there’s a portrait of a renaissance dog adorning an exposed brick feature wall and a couple of vintage metal signs to boot.
Not unlike The Galley, the second room, called The Admiral, is also a very airy space that indulges slightly more in the use of that floral wallpaper, pairing it with a breathtaking kilner jar chandelier and rustic tables and chairs. With this room often transformed into a wedding venue where both the ceremony and reception can be held, there’s already a little magic in the air. However, both rooms ooze charm, setting the tone and making No.4 Clifton Village a great destination for romance.
And speaking of love, the team behind No.4 has a true passion for creating beautiful, seasonal food made from only the freshest ingredients. Some of those dishes include risotto with wild mushrooms and truffle butter, pan fried cod fillet with celeriac purée, vegetable ratatouille and crispy onion rings, and harissa stuffed chicken supreme with sautéed black cabbage and red wine sauce. If that isn’t enough to make your mouth water, how about a dessert of white chocolate crème brûlée with a dark chocolate sablé biscuit or poached pear with a red wine reduction?
Open all day, No.4 also does breakfast, but it’s the afternoon tea that holds the most appeal for an intimate experience if an evening date isn’t what you’re after. Expertly crafted by the team, you can expect freshly baked cakes and scones served alongside the finest blends of tea or, if you feel like upgrading to a boozier option, Hendrick’s Gin or Da Luca Prosecco. The anticipation of waiting to see what comes next is pretty exciting and deciding which of the many teas to choose will be a talking point.
There’s also a gorgeous walled garden along the back of the hotel that offers a great deal of privacy and abundance of sunshine during the summer months as diners admire the food, the scenery and most importantly, each other.
Set in the heart of Clifton Village, No.4 is serving award-winning food in a beautiful setting and with wonderful service.
Known as The Glass Boat until quite recently, FiSH is a new iteration of this beautifully converted boat restaurant. Situated on the Welsh Back, the panoramic glass windows offer the most fantastic waterside views as it lies at anchor in the Bristol docks. Inside, twinkling skylights cascade down from the paneled ceiling and onto the polished oak finishings of the barge, creating a really bright environment even when the sun isn’t streaming in through the surrounding glass panels. They’ve traded navy blue upholstered chairs and white tablecloths for less formal wooden benches to create a more relaxed experience and yet, if it’s romantic you want, there’s little else that says it like dining on a boat with beautiful views.
Food-wise, they’ve shifted their focus from French cuisine to fish, but without compromising on the quality that existed when it was a glossy fine-dining establishment. Things like cracked Dorset crab with mayonnaise, cured sea trout with pickled cucumber, dill and mustard sauce, and Devon ray roasted on the bone and served with anchovy, egg and capers all experience the same level of care when prepared than the fried sweetbreads with sauce gribiche or riz au lait that earned The Glass Boat a five star review from Mark Taylor might have. That’s because, like the seasonal ingredients they used before, the seafood is bought fresh daily, sourced locally of course, and used to its full potential by the same team.
With Jake Platt still at the helm since the ‘90s, the kitchen continues to churn out beautiful food, just as owner Arne Ringner had envisioned thirty-five years ago when he had first breathed life into The Glass Boat. Now, having used lockdown as an opportunity for change, FiSH has all the makings of a brilliant local chippy who also does takeaway.
The food industry has been severely impacted by COVID and with many restaurants closing their doors, the resilience this team has shown by rethinking and rebranding, is incredible. They not only produce exceptional food with great service, but they serve generously and even after you’re stuffed, you’ll want to come back for more.
If you or your date is a seafood lover, FiSH is where you want to be. Undeniably good and with views that’ll inspire a bit of magic, especially when the sun comes in to illuminate the golden batter or those perfectly crisp chips, this is definitely one of our romantic restaurants in Bristol.
Not done with the harbourside yet, Riverstation is another great option if you’re after picturesque views of the water. From the alfresco terrace, better known as The Pontoon, you’ll be able to see the colourful houses, admire St Mary Redcliffe’s spire and watch the ferries go by. On a sunny day, food and drinks will be served whilst you relax under an umbrella or maybe you’ll catch the sunset right before the festoon lights flicker on, but either way, sitting out on the deck is an experience only rivalled by the food.
Featuring on the menu is a mix of carefully selected, seasonal produce that make up fabulous dishes like British mussels with samphire, white wine, cream and bread, wild mushroom and butternut squash with pearl barley risotto, cavolo nero and chestnuts, or a seasonal savoury tart with heritage tomato salsa, mixed leaves and a wholegrain mustard dressing. To finish with, there are plenty of unctuous desserts, whether you’re sharing or not, including classics like sticky toffee pudding, clotted cream, caramel sauce and chocolate brownie, salted caramel ice cream, toasted nuts and fruits, or something a little different like apple, fig, orange and chestnut crumble with custard, and spiced orange posset and a walnut shortbread.
Moving inside to sit in the restaurant itself, you’ll see nothing that points to the police station it used to be; it’s chic with a mix of wooden panelling, dark blues and upholstered leather, industrial copper pendants and exposed brick. The tall windows not only allow natural light to brighten the space, but also gives diners a spectacular view of the floating docks.
Choose between a la carte or a set menu curated by Head Chef Anthony Smith, featuring the best seasonal ingredients. Always changing, the menus currently include fantastic options like slow roasted pork belly served with cavolo nero, spiced red cabbage, celeriac fondant and madeira jus, salt baked beetroots with roast artichoke, orange and chicory salad and pumpkin seeds, and pan roasted seabass with crushed potatoes and bacon, samphire, leeks and a butter sauce.
The food is complemented by a huge range of wines with a mix of cocktails thrown in for good measure. Beers and ciders, like the food, are locally sourced and there’s champagne and sparkling wine too if you’re really looking to celebrate.
With a charming location, unbeatable views and beautiful food, you can’t go wrong with Riverstation.
The Lido Restaurant
Now listed as a Grade 2 swimming pool, the Lido has existed for over 170 years, having first opened in 1849 and not much has changed; the renovated restaurant occupies the original viewing deck, overlooking the deep blue pool underneath with various hedges and floral hanging baskets adding a wonderful touch of greenery.
Inside the restaurant, and adding to the drama of this historic space, is an open kitchen, a blazing hot clay oven that churns out dreamy dishes and a custom-made grill that aids in their Spanish and Mediterranean style menu. Expect bold flavours like oak smoked rubia gallega beef with ember roast beetroot and almond sauce, charcoal grilled wild seabass, romesco sauce, burnt lemon, wood roast leeks with moscatel, thyme and garlic, a vegetable mezze plate made up of wood roast vegetables and salads, Turkish falafel with green tahini, hummus with fried chickpeas, pickles, labneh and sourdough flatbread or a stew of monkfish, clams, preserved tomatoes, saffron, fennel and aioli.
The food is bright, not unlike the space. With minimalist wooden tables dotted between metal beams, the focus is on three things; the light the floor to ceiling doors bring in, the shimmering blue of the Lido beneath and the exceptional produce that makes it metamorphosis from kitchen to table.
Downstairs in the bar, the menu changes daily with a focus on seasonal ingredients, allowing diners to experience only the best in poolside tapas. The evening menu, alongside enchanting cocktails and guest beers, can include anything from traditional jamon croquetas to chorizo cooked in Asturian cider, wood roast padron peppers with ricotta salata or wood roast scallops in garlic butter and topped with sweet herbs.
With master critic, Jay Rayner, praising the food back in a 2010 review, he noted that the Lido restaurant was an impeccable one in a setting that didn’t really call for it and he’s right; the spa, pool and riverside cafe is all that’s really needed here and yet, knowing that makes the restaurant feel a little bit more special. Besides, with a touch of imagination it could feel like you’re cruising the mediterranean.
The team obviously understood how magical the lights reflecting off the pool below would be after sunset when they first envisioned a restaurant here, which, along with a robust menu and lovely service, is three good reasons as to why it’s one of the most romantic restaurants in Bristol.
Now, we couldn’t mention Lady and the Tramp without a pasta inclusion and Pasta Loco isn’t just any old Italian joint. What is similar though, is that like many other traditional Italian eateries, this one is a family affair. Cousins Ben Harvey and Dominic Borel – the pair also responsible for La Sorella, Pasta Repiena and recent addition, Bianchis – first opened the doors to this Cotham Hill restaurant back in 2016 and in the first seven months welcomed food critic Mark Taylor back ten times, noting that “Pasta Loco has the genuine feel of eating at the owners’ family home”. Probably due to a combination of atmosphere and family photographs leaning on ledges halfway up the walls.
Other than a personal touch, the inside of Pasta Loco feels intimate and relaxed. There’s a DIY edge to it, which might be because Ben’s father helped build the interior, but it’s so completely inviting and with the addition of the wood paneled ceiling, brown paper bag lights and black tabletops oozes sophistication.
From under the soft lighting, there’s a lot on offer from a menu that changes daily. Some of the gorgeous pasta dishes in the past included tortellini with aged nduja, mascarpone in chick pea and bone marrow brodo with crispy coppa ham, braised duck leg raviolo doppio in brodo with peas, summer fruit and crispy coppa ham, and tortellini of Calabrian nduja and buffalo ricotta with Spanish chorizo, morcilla and Italian apricots.
The pasta is freshly made in the kitchen everyday for maximum flavour and it’s little details like this that has earned the Pasta Loco team various accolades. Everything from rave reviews to The Week naming it the best pasta restaurant in the UK and beating Michelin-star restaurant Casamia for the title of Best Restaurant in Bristol in the British Restaurant Awards.
Easy to miss when walking down the road, Pasta Loco is a wonderful spot; unassuming with brilliant, creative dishes, wine in free flow and friendly service in abundance, this eatery is a great choice if romance is what you’re after. Besides, how do you not fall in love over the sound of a cannoli cracking under your spoon.