Following its grand reopening in April, Hannah Burton heads to The Ashton to see what all the fuss is about…
The Ashton opened its doors to the public over the Easter weekend following an impressive refurbishment that rendered the gastropub unrecognisable from its previous incarnation, The Dovecote. The reaction from the launch weekend was unanimously positive; the team behind The Ashton clearly know what they’re doing. We decided to pop along to see what all the fuss was about.
We had booked a table for a Wednesday night so were surprised to see the car park so full, even more so when we saw several groups of diners being turned away – word is out that The Ashton is the next big thing in Bristol, so book ahead to avoid disappointment. The outdoor seating area is impeccably stylish and elegant, with lovely rattan furniture dotted around and a huge fire pit at the centre of things. Before we even stepped through the doors we had decided to return for al fresco drinks in the summer.
The gastropub is divided into the bar area, with a beautiful fireplace and huge windows, and a cosier restaurant section. The decor is elegant and chic, with on-trend Edison filament light bulbs, statement chairs and exposed brick feature walls. It’s frequented by a well-heeled crowd, but the atmosphere is relaxed; I’ll certainly be bringing any out of town visitors here as it’s a venue that’s sure to impress without being in any way pretentious.
We were shown to our seats by the friendly and attentive Enrique, who knew every element of the menu and was able to advise on wine pairings throughout the evening. They’ve worked hard to put together an excellent selection of drinks, including a detailed wine list and a choice of marvellous cocktails. As the designated driver, I’d feared that I’d miss out on the drinks but it seems they’ve thought of everything and I was able to enjoy a refreshing virgin Mojito as we perused the menu. We were also given some delightfully salted, crispy broad bean nibbles to snack on.
To start, I ordered the scallops of the day, which featured succulent scallops with chorizo on a bed of pea purée. The fatty, full flavour of the chorizo perfectly complemented the light but decadent scallops, which were some of the finest I’ve ever tasted – I could have happily polished off a plate of them on their own. My partner opted for the Devon crab and crayfish pot and was equally impressed. The sharpness of the seafood was combined with a creamy texture to make a thoroughly enjoyable dish. This would be a great option for a light lunch with a glass of crisp white wine.
On to the main course, for which I selected the lamb rump served with Dauphinoise potatoes, chorizo and tenderstem broccoli. Every element of the dish stood up on its own, but the lamb itself was a real showstopper. My partner chose the slow-cooked British beef and Black Sheep Ale pie, which was packed full of beautifully tender beef. The enormous pie dish, puff pastry lid and accompanying kale and cabbage mashed potato made for a hearty, satisfying dish.
Though it’s fair to say that neither of us really needed a dessert, we’d heard only good things about them so couldn’t resist. I plumped for the sticky toffee pudding and was served up an enormous slab with a boat of molten toffee sauce on the side, while my partner went for the winter berry Eton Mess with blackcurrant meringue and rose hip syrup. Next time I’ll be sure to try the homemade cookies with ice cream – comfort food at its best.
I can confidently say that The Ashton have achieved something really special. The menu offers fine dining plates on a gastropub pocket and a relaxed but elegant setting. In terms of food, service and setting, they tick every box.
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