Having secured itself as a Bristol institution, riverstation has proved unfaltering, continually updating its menu to move with modern tastes.
While much of its success can be attributed to a fantastic harbourside location and award-winning architecture, the allure of riverstation extends far beyond aesthetics.
The bar and kitchen makes the most of the waterfront, a vast open-plan dining area enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass that allows the light to flood in. On a Monday lunchtime, the tables are filled with diners sat uniform in serenity, many taking advantage of the crisp autumnal sunshine on the terrace. The clientele is a uniform mix of office workers and genteel retirees, all enjoying a light lunch and breezy conversation.
The riverstation kitchen was sourcing local produce way before ‘sustainable eating’ became a foodie buzz phrase. Though the finished dishes are undoubtedly appealing, this isn’t food designed for Instagram. Rather, the chefs focus on unleashing the best flavour from select ingredients. Take the small plates - falafel isn’t something you’d think to order. The riverstation serves falafel as you’ve never seen it before, a trio of plump chickpea fritters with crispy, crunchy shells and a deliciously soft centre. An underlying spread of whipped labneh finished with toasted nuts adds a contrasting texture and transforms the dish.
Elsewhere, the moreish padrón peppers are paired simply with slithers of manchego, and it takes us just a couple of minutes to devour the lot. The smoked mackerel rillettes are smoother than a typical pâté with a soft foamy texture, perfect for spreading across the toasted rye crisped in rich olive oil. The plump crevettes arrive in a delectable, messy coating of garlic and herb butter, served beside chilli salsa. Salt cod arrives in traditional Portuguese fashion, a casserole dish piled with potatoes, kalamata olives and boiled egg in a pool of buttery savoury juice, finished with a generous dollop of aioli. A hearty salad of roasted romanesco, red onion, pumpkin and freekeh makes the most of autumn’s hearty produce. The final dish of vanilla panna cotta comes dressed in a sweet blueberry compote, plus almond biscotti with a satisfying snap.
The tempting aroma of freshly ground coffee from Rave roastery in Cirencester calls for a final flat white and an extended pause from a hectic Monday. As the lunchtime sun begins to wane, the riverstation bar and kitchen begins to clear. This is a place made for relaxed meetings, whether business or pleasure, that promise to leave a great impression.