Earlier this week I was lucky enough to attend the evening launch of Buttermilk & Maple. Located on Welshback in the Mercure Brigstow Hotel, Buttermilk & Maple mixes contemporary New York nightlife with a taste of Melbourne cafes, with brunch served all-day alongside an eclectic range of cocktails and craft beers.
We were welcomed by a tray of Margaritas, meaty canapés and burger sliders (no veggie options were available at the time, however I happily opted for a thick and creamy tequila, avocado and passionfruit cocktail). The décor was smart, chic and understated, with dark wooden furniture and warm ambient lighting providing an intimate atmosphere. The DJ sets which played throughout the evening added an urban, bustling touch, complementing the quirky Bristol artwork adorning the walls.
The drinks menu featured a sliding scale of cocktails, wines, craft beers and spirits. The crafted cocktails are evidently Buttermilk’s focus, made apparent when encouraged to try our third cocktail, ‘The Grapefruit Slip’: Tanqueray, mint, grapefruit and cassis (most of the cocktails are priced at £9, so we made full advantage of the free offerings!).
We were lucky to order anything we wished from the food menu. Though tempted by the broad range of all-day brunch, we went for a starter of homemade crisps with blue cheese sauce and slow braised ribs with hoisin, soy and ginger (these were delicious apparently!). The crisps proved to be a great snack to nibble on, however the sparse drizzling of sauce unfortunately didn’t hold the rich blue cheese flavour I was hoping for.
The vegetarian mains included five of the eighteen dishes on offer (three of them being salads and a Portobello mushroom sandwich). The extensive list of brunches proved better suited for meat-free eaters, which looked far more creative than the dishes on the mains. The menu’s focus is clearly driven by comfort meals and big meaty dishes, such as the truffle poussin, spaghetti & meatballs, steak & fries and bangers & mash.
For mains, we decided to order the roasted North Atlantic cod and the truffle poussin. The cod was served with a generous portion of buttermilk whipped mash, pea puree and confit lemon. Whilst the cod tasted fresh, and the mash thick and creamy, the puree was lacking in richness and the consistency somewhat droopy. I’ve been told the chicken tasted decent but less impressive when compared to the starter of ribs.
We also ordered a side of maple burnt carrots and fried green tomatoes with rocket, parmesan and chili dressing. Surprisingly, we agreed that the burnt carrots were excellent and our favourite dish- the fried veg was unsurprisingly disappointing, and we were far too full to try anymore!
Though we certainly didn’t need to, we asked for a final look at the dessert menu. I do recall someone requesting a bespoke baileys cocktail as a substitute, probably due to the slim choice of desserts available: seasonal fruit crumble, b&m sundae and home baked carrot cake.
After ordering the crumble and the sundae, the diners next to us tucked into a gorgeous looking slice of the homemade carrot cake. I felt way too full to consider ordering however it looked far better than I’d imagined – I wish I’d saved room to sample! Imagining a smaller sized dessert, I was prepared and excited in equal measure for the seasonal apricot crumble. Minutes after ordering it arrived, served hot in a large circular pan served with vanilla ice-cream. Whilst the crumbly oat layer and rich sugary mixture proved pleasant, the portion was far too large to finish. It seems that most of Buttermilk’s dishes are tailored less for fine dining and more for room service helpings– I can imagine the b&m sundae feeling far more satisfying in a dressing gown with the TV on!
For one final treat, we ordered two espresso martinis and shuffled a few tables down to the comfier looking booth. The warm mellow lighting and luxurious leather seats give a nod to the sophistication of New York nightlife which Buttermilk aspires. The atmosphere, paired with a couple of creamy martinis, marked the perfect finish to the evening.
Buttermilk’s efforts to make a name independent of the hotel is admirable, and I do believe they’re set in achieving this aim. Though only slightly missing the mark in achieving fine dining status, all the dishes were top-quality, and the menu’s variety equally as impressive. Though I’d only return to sample the brunch dishes (perhaps in the earlier hours too), I’d recommend Buttermilk & Maple for anyone after an evening of quality cocktails and comfort food on the waterfront.
Buttermilk & Maple, Mercure Brigstow Bristol Hotel, 5-7 Welsh Back, Bristol BS1 4SP