Updated: Sep 8, 2020
We drop by modern fine dining restaurant Tare, in Bristol’s buzzing Wapping Wharf, to experience their fantastic service, delicious food and cosy atmosphere.
In a city where dirty burgers dominate and Deliveroo riders zip along every street, taking the restaurant experience back to culinary craftsmanship, curated ingredients and a fine dining ethos can make you stand out from the crowd. Doing all this while maintaining a cool, contemporary vibe in an innovative city centre location? Well that’s tiptoeing towards unique...
Enter Tare, talented head chef Matt Hampshire and sous chef Jai Ash’s memorable Wapping Wharf dining destination. Specialising in tasting and à la carte menus, this cosy 20-cover restaurant has a prime position in an iconic CARGO 2 shipping container. Front of house is overseen by Meg, previously of the Bristol Lido Restaurant, whose extensive knowledge and easy charm will take you from apéritif to digestif without a care in the world.
We discovered just that when we dropped by for dinner recently. Arriving at dusk, the sun’s last copper tones reflected on the harbour and lit up the glass-fronted restaurant - so far, so atmospheric. Sliding the door open, we were greeted by a smiling Meg and breezy world music rippling through the air. Any clues that we were dining in an industrial storage facility quickly melted away. Smooth plaster walls have been painted Scandi-style white and grey, warmed by tangerine upholstery and vibrant Victoria Topping artworks. Beside the busy semi-open kitchen, a full-height grid of shelves holds tumbling greenery, wine bottles and artisan spirits, such as Black Cow Vodka.
Despite its size, Tare’s tables are generously spaced, and we happily sank into our seats, tealights twinkling and night falling outside. As a dry, zingy Manzanilla sherry and tonic arrived - condensation cold and wrapped in billowing basil leaves - I knew we were in for a treat. A G&T is great and all, but it’s nice to see something a little different.
The menu offers a choice between a 6-course tasting experience and a carefully curated a la carte selection. The braised pork belly with broccoli, celeriac, rhubarb and hazelnut will set most mouths watering, as will the locally raised duck terrine with saccharine beetroot salad, but vegetarians are no afterthought. In fact, there’s a second, fully formed meat-free menu and Tare is happy to cater to all dietary requirements.
Moments later, we’re tucking into two crunchy little tacos, each filled with creamy ewe’s curd, Grow Bristol’s micro-fennel, tangy rhubarb and a stand out sweet raisin purée. As all good appetisers should be, they are gone in one bite and savoured until the very moment of writing.
Then a fresh yet earthy root vegetable terrine, served cool and topped with the sweetest beetroot. It had us wondering why carrots and swedes are so often boiled to oblivion – this dish amplified their flavours like no winter stew ever could.
Next, a decorative arrangement of smoky cured trout and pickled turnip with well-balanced dollops of peppery wasabi. All beautifully presented a coastal inspired bowl by Bristol ceramicist Phoebe Smith. Oh, and did I mention the homemade bread? Warm, pillow soft, cradled in a strong crust and layered with salty butter – we fought over the last piece.
In anticipation of our mains, we looked to Meg for wine recommendations. Happy to oblige, a crisp, dry Spanish Galician white arrived. It cut through the rich flavours of my forest-green spinach and Pendragon cheese risotto with ease. Across the table, a full-bodied Portuguese red was poured alongside the Moroccan-style roast aubergine main with harissa, pearl couscous and a flash of vibrant pac choi. Delicious.
As pudding time rolled around, we couldn’t resist a little more culinary entertainment. Thus, a sizable yet surprisingly light citrus lemon semifreddo soon landed before me. A cloud of meringue and shards of chewy honeycomb sat on top, but it was the sliver of shortbread base and inspired dose of basil coulis that made it so very memorable.
In fact, every dish brought something original to the table – a testament to Matt’s clever mastery of texture and inventive use of fresh herbs. Fine dining is a timeless treat. And good service, good food and good wine are always a winning combination. But to introduce a sense of newness and creatively to the equation? Well, as we said, that’s tiptoeing towards unique.
Writing & Photography Credit: Melissa Burfitt
For more information on opening hours and bookings click here.