Published on 365Bristol.com
Lunchtime. It’s surely the best part of the working day. It marks the end of the slow, coffee-fuelled morning and the beginning of those final hours in the afternoon before we get to leave work. If your workspace is centrally located like ours, it’s good to go for a lunchtime ramble now and again in search of a great spot to sit down and munch until your heart’s content. Dining out for lunch is a good chance to catch up with a friend, loved one or spend the hour alone to treat yourself once in a while! Alternatively, if you’re an employer, the lunch hour is the perfect time to take the employees out to a well-deserved meal as a thank you for their hard work.
With Bristol being the foodie hotspot that it is, there’s a seemingly endless number of fantastic restaurants in and around the city centre. You can find food from all over the globe from a wide range of eateries here, and with so many flavours to be sampled, we have made it our mission to test, try and time as many as we can. This time around we headed to Pata Negra on Clare Street.
The interior oozes characteristics of warmth and friendliness. The aesthetic of a space is important to the overall energy, and the inside of Pata Negra is a visual treat. A nod-toward traditional Spanish décor, with rustic woods, wrought iron accenting, chandeliers, candles and plants, along with the staple warm red, blue and gold colours. On the walls, hang paintings that are reminiscent of old Spanish style Retablos; devotional religious artwork using iconography derived from traditional Catholic church art. So yes, there’s a lot going on. It’s both elegant and rustic at the same time, and you can’t help but be charmed by the romantic feel of it all.
Tapas is my all-time favourite. I sometimes get bored of one dish alone, and love the idea of friendship and unity that sharing food offers- something championed by Pata Negra.
My colleague ordered a sangria (be rude not to) and I had their raspberry lemonade which was to-die-for. The sangria was also delicious, made how it should be, sweet with fresh fruit and orange juice, but with strong hints of red wine.
Diego, the manager has been there from the start, when Pata Negra began 5 years ago. Probably one of the most knowledgeable guys in the business, he was quick to give us his recommendations, before adding “I’ll just bring you what I think is good.”
Staying true to his word, he firstly brought a cheese board and some veggie and ham croquetas (£4.50). On the board, lay three types of cheese; a Manchego, a Mahon -sheep’s cheese from Menorca- and a blue Picos from Castilla. Along with some fresh bread and quince jelly (£12 for all), we couldn’t get enough. The veggie croquetas were actually better than the ham, light yet rich, with a strong mushroom flavour, they melted in the mouth scrumptiously- as did the ham.
It may come surprisingly from a place that is named “Pata Negra” meaning “Black Hoof’ in Spanish (which refers to the finest pig in all the land) that there was heaps of fab veggie options on the menu. Some of which we had the pleasure of tasting, such as the Spanish Tortilla (£3.50), Pisto (£5), Broccoli A La Plancha (£5.50), and everyone’s staple favourite; Patatas Bravas (£4.50).
The baked tortilla was made with egg, potato and onion, served with a little alioli on the side. It was dense and starchy, but in the right ways. Thick and moreish, the alioli complimented it well. The broccoli dish had a delicious garlic and chili dressing, making it the perfect accompaniment to all the other plates. Part of why I love tapas so much, is that you can mix the small plates together for a fusion of taste. As was the case with the Patatas Bravas and the Pisto. Pisto is a dish that is similar to Ratatouille, with slow cooked peppers, courgette, aubergine and tomato, it is a dish to warm the heart and please the tummy. Along with the triple cooked potatoes, that were perfectly cooked- crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside- the flavours worked fantastically together. The spicy homemade alioli with the Patatas Bravas was served room temp, so as to not make the potatoes soggy, which was a nice touch, the kind that makes a difference to the overall quality of the dish.
Of course, I did try some more meat which came in the form of the Calabaza Con Sobrasada dish (£5) that consisted of pumpkin and chorizo with almonds, honey and Manchego. A wild plate, full of many different tastes and textures, seemingly opposite yet complimented each other beautifully. You don’t see pumpkin on a menu too often, and this was a huge slice that had been baked with the skin on. This dish was incredible. It’s a seasonal one, so hurry down before it disappears off the menu! It was decadent and rich, with the strongest flavours being that of the smokey chorizo and the buttery cheese. The sweet tasting honey was lightly drizzled over the plate, in all its sticky glory and the almonds added a wonderful nutty crunch to the whole thing. The pumpkin melted in the mouth, soft, warm and autumnal.
Pata Negra is a place you can easily spend a long time in, over a leisurely lunch. We were there a little over an hour. That’s not to say the service is slow, the time between ordering and being served is very short, and the people there really know their stuff. If you’re stuck on what to order, trust in them to recommend you some fantastic dishes.
This wonderful restaurant is like a little slice of Spanish paradise here in the city. Unlike its competitors, it’s really unique and the food is absolutely superb. Go on…treat yourself!
Head to the Pata Negra website here for bookings and more info.