Eating out is one of my very favourite things to do. As a family, food forms the basis of most of our outings.
‘What do you fancy doing today?’ one of us will ask another.
‘How about we go over to Wells?’ the other will suggest.
‘Shall we meet at midday? Just in time for lunch?’
And then we’ll meet and have lunch and look in a token shop or glance at Wells Cathedral so it feels like we actually HAVE had an outing, and then we go home again.
I think you get the idea.
I’m always pleased then when I get asked to try out a new restaurant, and I was SUPER pleased to get to visit Symonds at Redwood as the menu looked LUSH.
Symonds is set within Audley Redwood village, a luxury retirement village just outside Clifton in Bristol. The minute we got there I wanted to retire – the setting is beautiful and the apartments look lovely. There’s a fitness centre with loads of classes, a swimming pool, hair salon, and even a library. A library!
There’s also a bar and Symonds restaurant. It’s basically everything I need. I could picture myself at the bar mid-afternoon with a gin and tonic, hair done, library book in hand. Bliss.
Unfortunately you have to be at least 55 years old to actually live in one of the apartments, which is not that far away really, so it was basically a retirement research trip.
You do NOT have to be 55 though to visit Symonds. The bar and restaurant opened to residents at the end of last year and then to the general public in January. It’s beautifully decorated and opens out onto the gardens where you can sit in warmer weather. As well as evening meals Symonds do lunches and afternoon teas, which I’m sure would be lovely in the summer on the terrace.
Belle was in a slightly strange, sassy mood. I find dining with a 15 year old can be a bit hit or miss, and for the first twenty minutes or so she mainly switched between shuffling about looking awkward and making me take pictures of her looking ‘gangster’.
I wasn’t very good at it apparently.
‘Why have you only taken six in all that time?’ she asked, aghast, after the first attempt. She handed my phone back to me and I tried again.
‘God, why have you taken so many photos?’
Like I said, hit and miss.
The vibe for both the menu at Symonds and the decor is simple, modern elegance. The menu includes lots of seasonal, locally sourced food, and there was an excellent wine list too, which was lucky as I needed a small (i.e. large) glass of Malbec to deal with Belle.
Wesley, our waiter, was lovely and just the right amount of friendly. ‘Gorgeously attentive,’ said Belle. ‘You can put that in your review if you like.’
He came to take our order, encouraging us to ask questions and to be as fussy as we liked. Belle put him to the test by asking for a random side of dauphinoise potatoes to go with her pan roasted chicken breast, chorizo, pea & tarragon risotto, as they’re her very favourite thing. Wesley was happy to oblige.
I started with rabbit terrine, pea puree, picked carrots and pea shoots, followed by pan fried fillet of cod, cauliflower puree, salsify, girolles, pickled cauliflower, hazelnut, buerre noisette and micro lemon balm.
I know right? How fancy??
I almost wish there had been something wrong with it to give me something to talk about but there wasn’t – everything was delicious. Particular mention goes to the chicken and the fish, which were both very well cooked indeed. The chicken was that wonderful juicy tenderness that I’ve never been able to recreate at home and the fish fell apart beautifully, like Belle the day before an exam.
And then it was time for puddings.
Belle was still being a bit odd and said she didn’t want a pudding, so I had TWO (for research purposes) and pretended that one was for Belle. We (me) chose a Bailey’s bread and butter pudding and a hot chocolate pudding with salted caramel and clotted cream ice cream.
They were both very good but I think the chocolate pudding was my favourite. The hot, melty middle was amazing, especially with the ice cream. It was the kind of pudding, in combination with a glass of red wine, that makes you feel for a little while like everything is right with the world.
Although we had been the first to arrive at Symonds at 6.30pm, several more couples and groups came in while we were there. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and I kept lapsing into retirement daydreams.
Would I go to Symonds for my Sunday lunch? How often could I legitmately have a full afternoon tea? How long would it take for me to fall into a pattern so that the bar staff had a gin ready for me at a certain time every day?
Audley Redwood is still very new and only about 25% of the apartments are occupied at the moment. Phase two of the development is happening now though and more and more are being sold all the time, so the restaurant is sure to become increasingly popular as Audley Redwood village fills up and word gets out more widely.
Best get to Symonds now while you can still claim it as somewhere you went BEFORE it was famous.
Find out more about Symonds and check out the menu here.
We had a complimentary meal at Symonds for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.