The Parlour is a well loved family run ice-cream parlour on Cheltenham road, Bristol. Owned by Nicolo Lacata, the 3rd generation of the Lacata family to be in the ice-cream business, The Parlour puts family at the centre of the business’ ethos which has secured it as a top spot to visit for desserts. All of their ice-creams are made on site, from scratch using whole ingredients. Whilst other ice-cream companies claim their using natural ingredients, this is likely to be a form of flavouring whereas The Parlour team are true to their word. If there’s an apple pie flavour on offer, they’ll have smashed up some freshly made apple pies to add into their ice-cream mix. This means that each of the ice-creams have a unique texture, which is how it should be! As well as an amazing selection of ice-creams on offer you can also get waffles, brownies, warm cookies all generously dosed in scoops, sweets and sauces. We’ve been visiting The Parlour as the starting point of our Stokes Croft food tours since tBFT began and it’s been a joy to watch the business grow and develop in that time. Today I’m not here to talk about their ice-cream (although I could for a long loooong time) but instead, their brand spanking new evening menu which I had the chance to go and try out on Friday.
This new venture launched on the 24th November following a re-fit of the space to include a full kitchen and pasta prep station! In line with their ice-cream making ethos they will be making their pasta on site, from scratch every morning with an affordable menu set to the rival the best Italian spots already established in the city. There is a team of two chefs who, due to the open kitchen are on full view of diners at all times and the team are kept on their feet to attend to the bustling restaurant crowd and the drop in ice-cream buyers, as popping down to The Parlour for a post-dinner scoop is v.popular with locals.
Samir and I booked a table for 6.30pm and were met with a warm welcome by owner, Nicolo. Another 3 tables were full of chatting diners and the smells already coming from the kitchen were mouth watering. At the front of the open plan kitchen were huge loaves of focaccia bread which immediately caught our eye and a mini herb garden, which I loved watching the chefs dive in to at regular intervals whilst prepping the dishes. The team have also introduced a full bar, offering a variety of beers, wines and spirits plus hardshakes – which are boozy milkshakes for the more adventurous! Whilst we browsed the menu we were brought some slices of the focaccia bread with balsamic and olive oil plus a mini dish of the biggest green olives I’ve ever seen (without stones which always gets a thumbs up from me). The bread was warm and soft and I happily could have sat there and eaten bread and oil for the rest of the evening. It definitely got us hungry for more and we were excited to get choosing our starters and mains.
The menu has a good variety of dishes on offer for vegetarians and also offer vegan and gluten free pasta! The menu is split into small plates and pasta dishes and there is also a list of nibbles and sharing boards which the group across from us were enjoying with some beers. We decided to go for the Polenta alla Griglia: Grilled polenta cake with blue cheese and sweet chilli salsa – on recommendation from Nicolo, plus a Bruschetta al Funghi: Brushetta with creamy wild mushrooms, parmesan and rocket to start. There were 2 other options for vegetarians too which made a nice change from usually being only able to choose from one or two dishes. We really enjoyed both of these starters. The polenta cake had a gorgeous combination of flavours with the pungent blue cheese working in harmony with the polenta cake and kick of sweet chilli. Our favourite, however, was the mushroom bruschetta, although a simple dish; the mushrooms were really creamy and the bruschetta melted in the mouth. The dish also had a generous dosing of parmesan curls which always goes down well too..
For our mains we chose the Spaghetti a limone: Spaghetti with fresh herbs, lemon and parmesan and the Linguine Alla Siciliana: Linguine with olives, capers, aubergine, chilli and plum tomato. When the dishes were served we were brought seasonings a little jug of olive oil which was a nice touch! The homemade pasta was out of this world and, in my opinion, on par with the offering at Pasta Loco. It was soft and subtle and felt so much less heavy than standard pasta from restaurants which choose not to make it in house. The Spaghetti a limone was a really refreshing dish, the mint leaves combined with the parmesan and lemon was a killer combo. Samir loved his choice and rated it as one of the best he’s ever had, which is saying something because we eat a lot of pasta. It had a good amount of kick coming from the chillies and the vegetables worked really well in the sauce. The only thing that could have slightly improved these dishes would be the offer of parmesan to be added on top of the dishes when served. That being said, the meals were really tasty without and Samir’s pasta was generously topped with melty burrata already and I only realised this after I’d eaten the whole thing and moped the plate clean with some leftover bread from our starters..
It’s safe to say we were absolutely stuffed after these two courses and unfortunately couldn’t fit in any ice-cream but knowing how good they are already, they will be the perfect compliment to the gorgeous evening menu that the Lacata’s have created. I think it’ll take a little bit of time to get the word out about their new menu but Twitter is already buzzing with compliments and it won’t be long before they have a large waiting list for weekend tables. The staff are friendly, the food is tasty and I wish them all the very best with this exciting venture and we will definitely be back soon to work our way through the menu..
We were given a complimentary meal and drinks as part of the launch event but were not asked to write a review. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.