A successful food and drink business is very rarely an overnight success.
Take Laura Hart of Hart’s Bakery for example. After selling biscuits from the back of a bicycle, her first permanent premises were in the former development kitchen of what was then The Town House on Whiteladies Road, before finding temporary premises in Kingsdown and finally opening at Temple Meads.
Since its back room was the first home of Hart’s Bakery, 85 Whiteladies Road – once the trailblazing Rocinantes and then Quartier Vert – has also been the short-lived Rosa and is now home to Coconut Chilli, a pop-up restaurant for the summer and then maybe beyond.
Coconut Chilli was first established as a stall at the Whiteladies Road farmers market, later branching out into meal pots and office deliveries in Bristol and London.
Founder Navina Bartlett and her team have now taken on their first bricks and mortar premises.
On the basis of a meal on a recent Thursday evening, this is a pop-up that deserves to become permanent. And if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t think it was even a pop-up at all.
Navina has kept the decoration simple inside, with a red metal biscuit tin and a four-layer tiffin among the items on display.
The restaurant’s menu changes daily, with Thursday evening’s selections being divided into small plates, bowl food and desserts.
From the small plates, vegetable pakoras (£4.50) arrived wonderfully crunchy out of the fryer, revealing mixed vegetables and chickpeas within, and coming with a small bowl of mouth-tingling sauce made with mint, coriander and onions.
Also from the selection of small plates – which also included samosas, paneer and mixed pepper skewers, and marinated chicken wings – mini poppadoms (£2.75) were best accompanied with a generous dollop of mango chutney.
Among the bowl food options on Thursday’s menu were black dhal, keema lamb meatballs and Hyderabadi chicken.
Succulent Delhi butter chicken (£7) came out of the kitchen piping hot in a baby blue bowl, the chicken in a rich tomato gravy the colour of a sunset with basmati rice hidden underneath.
“Oh you really should, it’s very good,” was Navina’s reply when I asked for the ginger beer and marmalade cake for dessert. It was beautifully moist but could have done with punchier flavours from both the ginger beer and marmalade.
It’s still finding its feet, but following several years getting to this point, Coconut Chilli could be a restaurant that is here to stay.
Coconut Chilli, 85 Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2NT
0117 973 9302
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