A Brelliant Christmas at Brel

I LOVE Christmas! I enjoy everything about it, the gift buying & wrapping, cosying up in hats & scarfs, putting up my tree, seeing family, but most of all at this time of year the food & drink on offer is my favourite.

A few weeks ago I was very disappointed to have to refuse an offer to attend a bloggers event at Brel on Ashton Lane to sample their festive menu. I sat at home that evening on twitter drooling over the picture and tweets from some of my favourite bloggers raving about how delicious everything was – okay okay I’ll admit it I had a petted lip 🙂

The next day still in a fair bit of a strop the lovely Toni from itison sent me an email asking if perhaps I would like to pop in and try it another time? Erm let me think about that for a second……yeah!! So in the interest of full disclosure it’s only fair to mention that  I was a guest of the restaurant, I am fairly straight with you guys regarding how I feel about restaurants and food and this review will be no different. Luckily the food was great and I’m spared having to write a bad review when it was kind of them to offer me a little sneak peak of their festive offerings.

Brel which is located on über cool Ashton has recently undergone a bit of a revamp, this was my first visit so I have no idea how much of a change there’s been but the interior now is really nice and cosy, perfect for cold dark nights. Our table was located in the conservatory where there was a roaring log fire, a beautiful real Christmas tree and a lovely view into Brels pretty magical garden which is fully of fairy lights and colourfully lit trees.

I did have a couple of niggles with my table – I was sitting on a ridiculously uncomfortable bench which dug right into my back, I had to put my jacket behind my back to try to make it a bit more comfortable (it didn’t)  Also, the table was so small with glasses, plates, menus, candle, salt & pepper it was impossible to get everything on, however without us saying a word the problem was resolved by the lovely waitress who just moved the empty table beside my table over and we could spread out a little.

Before I start raving about the food special mention has to go to the hot mulled cider which was amazing. It’s the first time I’ve ever had cider mulled and it’s definitely my new favourite winter drink.

This festive menu is very much right up my street and I could happily eat any of these dishes, excluding the Christmas Pub (I hate currents – blugh!!!) Having seen the menu earlier in the week I had already decided what I was going to have before I even left the house.

To start with I chose the home cured Tobermory 16 year old salmon served with pickled vegetables and horseradish creme fraiche. Firstly the niggle with the dish – it was really small and gone in literally 4 bites…my mouth is big but not that big! When I asked the waitress if that was the normally portion size she said it was. She went on to explain that it was designed as more of a small morsel to whet your appetite because the main meals were so large, happy enough with the reason I dug into my starter. It was delicious! The salmon was soft and silky with a really nice woody taste and the pickled veg was quite acidic which I loved.

For my main I had the Slowly braise brisket of beef served with truffle mash, pancetta and horseradish. This was served with a mammoth bowl of roast potatoes, brussels sprouts, roasted parsnips & carrots. 1 word – amazeballs! At this time of year I never really put much weigh on festive menus, they more often than not are designed to be churned out fast and cheap. This dish completely smashed that pre conception. The beef was cooked beautifully and fell apart, the mash was light and creamy (although I am not sure if there was actually any truffle in it?) and the gravy/sauce was really interesting, they had dotted red berry jus or possibly cranberry sauce through it so occasionally you got a sharp little acidic burst which was great. The veg was so tasty I could of eaten just a bowl of the roasted parsnips and been beyond happy.

I was unable to stay for dessert so the extremely lovely waitress offered to have the chocolate & honeycomb tart that I wanted boxed up for me to take home, and my goodness I am glad she did! It was one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten – the biscuit base of the tart was really short and crunchy, the chocolate ganache filling was rich and dark and it was served with a massive serving of clotted cream with big chunks of honeycomb sprinkled over it and a sweet mango sauce, YUM!

All in all this was a very impressive festive offering and well worth the price of £20 at lunch time and £26 in the evening. I would absolutely recommend this menu for a lovely Christmas meal and will definitely be popping back in before the end of December for more brisket & chocolate tart.



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