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Restaurant Casamia


bed of wholemeal chestnut gnocchi,” said the menu. I’m sure you’re familiar with the kind of thing. I hasten to add this was not in Casamia,


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but in a restaurant in London. In Casamia – Bristol’s nationally lauded, Michelin-starred eatery run by fraternal culinary wizards Peter and Jonray Sanchez-Iglesias – there’s no need for such hyperbole. The menu is a study in terse refinement; the whole of our six-course lunch was summed up in 17 words. Casamia operates on the assumption — correctly, as it turns out — that the ever-helpful staff will be on hand to explain the intricacies of the cuisine; the impression is that we’re all embarking on a culinary adventure together. We’d been hunting for an ingenious reason


to revisit Casamia for ages. There was an ‘l’ in the month – would that do? Or fact that it’s just been voted Best Restaurant in the Bristol Good Food Awards? – though this latter gong is a mere bagatelle considering that it’s already won a Michelin star and more rosettes than the average Olympic equestrian. Eventually we hit on the excuse that we had


yet to review the summer menu. At Casamia, it’s not merely the cooking that turns with the seasons – the brothers update the décor and the subtle music track, too. Oversized paintings of Weston-super-Mare currently adorn the walls, an August-bank-holiday paean to the British seaside. We’d opted for the wine flight. A chablis


The seaons have changed, and so has the menu at Casamia: DERI ROBINS decides that this more than justifies a return visit


ree-range organic hand- reared wood pigeon eggs, nurtured in Hebridean nettles, served with Tunisian pearl couscous resting on a


restaurant refuses to have any truck with pretension or formality. The spare description of our next course,


‘duck, carrot and fennel’, did little to give away the ingenuity of this dish. The Devon Creedy Carver duck, as prepared by Casamia, is tender and tasty enough to carry the bird ungarnished, but with the addition of fennel seeds and shavings, plus a touch of honey and a bed of carrot purée, it becomes masterly. The kitchen at Casamia is in full view of


“The frozen, syphoned and concentrated mozarella knocks burrata into a cocked hat”


from the vineyards of Louis Michel in Burgundy made the perfect complement to miniature quiche Lorraines. Tiny pastry cases moulded from the lightest feuille de brique were filled with a foamy, deeply flavoursome eggy filling. The next course, tomatoes and mozzarella, was served with the extraordinary ‘72 tomates


54 Clifton Life www.mediaclash.co.uk


liqueur’ from Tarn in France. Some six dozen tomatoes are pressed along with anchovies, tapenade and confit tomato; quixotic it may sound, but after a few sips it seemed the obvious choice. The dish itself uses every part of the tomatoes, some fresh, some made into jam, some puréed. The mozzarella, from a buffalo farm in Hampshire, undergoes a miraculous transformation here — it’s concentrated, siphoned, infused with cream, frozen and served with green and black basil. The result is refreshing and surprising, and knocks fromage-du-jour burrata into a cocked hat. Next up was salad, but not as we know it. Countless flowers, petals, sepals and leaves worked alongside a candied beetroot and a tiny potato to produce a glorious dish drizzled with a warm vinaigrette; haute forager cuisine at its very hautest. To just digress on utilitarian matters for a moment: at many fine diners you’ll be confronted with a varied battery of utensils,


and be expected to know, Downtonesquely, exactly in which order to use them. At Casamia, democracy rules. Cutlery is stacked in little ceramic holders, the knives and forks all the same size, so that erroneous-cutlery-choice-embarrassment (ECCE) is artfully avoided; yet another example of the way that Bristol’s top


the diners. With heads bent over an array of vessels, and with vapours and bubbling concoctions spilling over from beakers and burettes, the chefs look more like a band of alchemists trying to find the elixir of everlasting life. Instead, they were preparing our next course, the ‘transition dish’ which would segue our palates from the savoury to the sweet via a skilful mix of ricotta cheese, pea and lemon. This preceded a dish of peaches and cream


served in pretty vessels from the Village Pottery in Clifton. Casamia make their own tinned peaches — they pick ’em, press ’em and then serve them with a lashing of cream. You’ll eat well at Casamia – that’s a given.


But it’s a more complex experience than that. Each course will amaze and delight – you might even catch yourself clapping your hands with glee – and make you think about food and cooking afresh. There was less whizz-bangery than we’d witnessed previously – no pouring of dry ice across the table, for example – and a brief chat with Peter leads us to believe that this is the direction that Casamia is headed; naturally this means we’ll have to revisit soon to check progress. CL


Visiting details


Prices: Lunch menu 1 (6 courses) £38; lunch menu 2 (11 courses) £68; wine flight £60 Opening hours: Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday 6-9.30pm; Lunch: Tuesday- Saturday 12-2pm We visited: Wednesday lunchtime Child friendliness: No children’s menu — children are encouraged to try all dishes. Disabled access: Fully accessible Atmosphere: Tranquil, intimate. Prices: Lunch menu 1 (6 courses) £38 Lunch menu 2 (11 courses) £68, wine flight £60 Wine list: Well thought out and beautifully balanced.


Casamia,38 High St, Westbury Village, Westbury-on-Trym BS9 3DZ; casamiarestaurant.co.uk; 0117 959 2884


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