Immediately winning the prize for the best restaurant name in Bristol, Bare Grills has opened on the Clifton Triangle in what used to be Grillstock, serving much of the same barbecued meats as its predecessor.
Only a few hundred yards away from the puntastic Jason Donervan kebab van, it’s the third Bare Grills to open after Weston-super-Mare and Taunton and promises – in excitable capital letters on its website – to be “THE BEST DANG SMOKE HOUSE IN THE SOUTH WEST”.
But the success of Pasture on Portwall Lane in Redcliffe means that Bristol’s taste for meat remains unabated, and Bare Grills is not the place to take your vegan friend (although there is a veggie burger with patties made from carrots, onions, peas and sweetcorn).
Beards, checked shirts and tattoos are the de rigueur fashion choices here, with one long central table unchanged from Grillstock days flanked by exposed brickwork and corrugated iron, and acts including Alice Cooper and AC/DC on the stereo.
Surprisingly, steaks are currently off the menu until the new year and the restaurant is also yet to get an alcohol license from the city council, with cans of Thatchers Gold promised alongside £80 bottles of champagne, and the requisite bourbons.
For a four-year-old carnivore in attendance on a recent Tuesday evening, the frankfurter-style hot dog from the £6 kids menu was a popular choice, even more so when it was revealed when it was cleared away that the meal also came with two scoops of ice cream.
From the main menu, there is a choice of more than a dozen burgers and hot dogs from £7.50 to £9 without sides; ‘hold tight sides’, their version of starters, featuring chicken wings, halloumi fries and nachos; and the ‘from the smoker’ selection that includes smoked baby back ribs (£12 for a half, £16 for a full), smoked pulled pork (£11.50) and smoked chicken (£9.50).
If you’re feeling hungry or want to emulate those YouTube eating challenges, the Bare Grill combo for £24.50 features half baby back ribs, smoked brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage, chicken wings, crispy jalapenos, french fries, slaw and a bread roll.
Compared to that, my solitary smoked brisket (£14) looked positively tiny on the tray it was served on. Slow smoked for 16 hours, sliced and served in a barbecue glaze, it arrived lukewarm and quite dry from the kitchen, and needed to be accompanied by Bare Grills’ own range of barbecue sauces.
As Lois was tucking into her ice cream, my cheesecake (£5) was presented more like a mousse on a rock-solid biscuit base, with a topping of a Mint Aero chocolate bar that had been smashed to smithereens sprinkled on top.
Service throughout our meal was friendly and efficient, but for the time being the only awards this restaurant will be winning will be because of its name.
Bare Grills, 41 Triangle West, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 1ER
0117 929 8899