By Priti Modi
One would be mistaken to think that the Great Western Arcade comprises of solely commercial staples such as Greggs, Druckers and Newsagents, this is clearly not the case. It is now home to Bistro 1847 which is part of a collection of award winning bespoke dining establishments, which boast a welcome of “home made and British” vegetarian cuisine . This venue puts a refreshing spin on the preconceived notion of boring, tasteless, unimaginative and predictable non meat offerings alongside a developing cocktail and beverage menu. I decided to visit and see what all the fuss was about…
Bistro 1847 was formed in 1847 and offers an interesting range of food and drink. Alex the GM advised that the Bistro’s current menu is being redeveloped at present and we can expect to see changes via the way of British Tapas and an sourcing of locally produced ingredients, as well as taster and grazing menus in the very near future.
One of the Bistros staple offering includes “free from” dishes (such as Gluten, Wheat etc) and the option for diners to amend the dishes as they are served should their tastes or requirements be different from the set option, which to me relinquishes the true essence of a great operation.
Bistro 1847 is also a “keen green” company and is committed to fair trade, via its affiliation with the Born Free Foundation (conservation and animal welfare) and was voted as the most ethical company of the year in 2013.
Diners can chose from a fixed price menu (from 12 – 5pm – Monday – Sat) Mains courses £10, a set two courses £14, wine is offered and optional. If it is a light brunch one desires, then sandwiches start from a reasonable £5.25(chunky chips £1 extra) but don’t expect your usual run of the mill Ploughmans or egg and cress, diners will be delighted at bread such as sultana and pecan loaf, speciality and artisan cheeses and vintage chutneys. Bold lashing of sour cream, use of aubergine and chilli and apple also grace this well thought out part of the menu.
A la carte is also available, presented in an artistic , theatrical and precise manor which in my opinion adds to the concept of experience , which the Bistro is consciously moving towards. Starters for example have been named to evoke a specific vision “hit me bhaji one more time” is a quirky as it is tasty. A simple Indian type Bhaji (deep fried gram flour parcels flavoured and stuffed) comprises here of shallots as opposed to onions, is accompanied with green pea emulsion (almost compote) and a heady coriander based side salad. Other starters showcase everything from tempura to babaganoush with fresh accompaniments such as slow roast apple, pomegranate and seasonal veg, and that’s just for starters ….
My favourite dish by far is the beer battered halloumi and port ketchup with sea herbs and paprika curd, the dish I think is a genius alternative to the traditional option and is served piping hot and full of flavour.
The desert menu offers a luxurious end to the meal here and customers can sample delightful and nostalgic treats. Currently just three options are available, a shortbread dish, pineapple and nut brittle and a chocolate ale cake. Although limited in choice it is clear that each option combined texture and variation, clearly important when it comes to desert and as the menu is being revamped, I am confident that this choice will soon expand.
I found the menu to be culinary educative and brought together well, with beautiful presentation and attention to detail, which is illustrated in everything from the choice of table ware to the ingredients used. Décor wise, the venue is minimalistic (grey and white) and clean, based on two floors it is also some what intimate , with tealights and subtle lighting. The staff were pleasant, helpful and attended well to all the tables. Overall, I can not wait to see what becomes of this already simple yet lavish Bistro in the near future, thumbs up from me so far!