We lived in Taunton first time around about 12 years ago when Belle was a baby. As she got slightly older and less likely to scream the second I broke physical contact with her, going out and about became easier and eating out less of a nightmare. Taunton wasn’t overrun at the time with nice places to eat, but there was one very lovely little restaurant down on East Reach called Tristans.
Tristans was run, funnily enough, by a friendly chap called Tristan, and Tristan made just about the best eggs Benedict in the entire world. Brunch there on a Sunday was bliss, and not just because I could keep Belle quiet for a good twenty minutes by filling her mouth with hot buttered toast.
Tristans Bistro has changed hands a couple of times since then, so being newly back in Taunton Belle and I were very excited to be invited to visit for dinner and to see how it’s doing now. We decided it would be our date night and Belle made the effort to put on a pretty dress and wear a flower in her hair. It was very sweet.
On arrival we were greeted by very friendly and helpful staff and Belle set about assessing the surroundings. She really liked the cosy atmosphere and the cutlery passed her test – no ‘previous food’ to be seen. She even had a feel under the tables for gum and declared everything up to her high standards.
Tristans Bistro uses a lot of locally sourced and seasonal produce, so the menu changes regularly. Pricing is simple though – two courses for £16 during the week and £20 on Friday and Saturday nights. We opted for one starter and one pudding between us so we could fairly test everything, and began our meal with a trio of smoked fish – very tasty and beautifully presented.
For main course we had ‘Slightly spicy crab cakes served with watercress and rocket salad, sweet potato chips and seasonal slaw’ and ‘Slices of English lamb leg served with dauphinoise Potatoes, fresh vegetables and a mint and redcurrant sauce’.
The staff were very helpful and offered to tailor any of the dishes to Belle’s taste. She wanted to completely omit any vegetables but we compromised – she ate the carrots and I ate everything else. Belle’s dauphinoise potatoes were absolutely delicious and and my sweet potato chips were yummy.
We had quite a lot of discussion over the pudding, taking it in turns to rank all of the options in order of preference, but as we basically ranked things in opposite orders we settled in the end for Belle’s favourite. It was date night after all and she had worn a dress. The sticky toffee pudding was huge and certainly didn’t leave us any room to sample the cheeseboard.
Overall we really enjoyed our night out; the service was excellent and the food was tasty and fresh. If I had to offer any constructive criticism it would be that the portion sizes were a little on the large side. Not a problem if you like a hearty meal but neither Belle nor I could manage more than half of our main courses. The large portions did make the mains feel slightly less refined than they might have otherwise.
Given that the only thing we could find to complain about was the fact of being given too much food, we’ll definitely be going back for seconds!