Restaurants / Reviews

MUSE, Prince Street: ‘Where Instagrammable presentation triumphs’ – restaurant review

By Mia Vines Booth, Tuesday Mar 7, 2023

MUSE Brasserie recently opened its second restaurant in Bristol following its first in Cheltenham.

It describes itself as a “sophisticated restaurant offering innovative, upscale French & international dishes, plus cocktails”.

The dress code reads: “Our guests always make an effort when visiting MUSE. Smart casual attire would be perfect for our surroundings.”

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MUSE’s story is intriguing: a French chef with fine-dining experience and an Indian chef inspired by the street food of his home meet, combining their expertise to bring a creative fusion of wholly different cuisines, something that has garnered MUSE a host of five-star reviews at its first restaurant in Gloucestershire.

The amuse-bouche was a welcome surprise despite its lacklustre colouring – photo: Mia Vines Booth

The 100-cover Bristol restaurant on Prince Street (formerly Prince Street Diner) is a sensory overload on arrival, with pastel pink booths upholstered in blue velvet, and draping artificial blossoms hanging from every available space.

There was one other group seated when we arrived at 7pm, and two more couples trickled in over the course of our evening. Despite the space looking like an Instagrammer’s paradise, it seemed as if MUSE hadn’t quite managed to get the word out yet to eager phone-wielding influencers.

A wonderfully friendly waiter led us to our table, doting on us throughout the evening – perhaps due to the fact we were the only customers in his section.

After perusing the menu, we chose the crispy okra, chat masala and tamarind ketchup (£8), and the Mumbai street Vada Pav, with tangy and sweet chutney (£9) to start, and the Muse Thali – a selection of Indian tapas served with rice (£19) and the gnocchi, pesto, arugula salad (£16) for main.

As a fan of all things miniature, MUSE knew exactly how to win me over with these mini hotdogs – photo: Mia Vines Booth

The customs of a French brasserie quickly ensued, with baked crusty rolls placed on our porcelain side plates with pink-ended tongs, and a surprise amuse-bouche to whet the appetite served before our meal.

There was something disarmingly charming about these frivolities, an unusual occurrence in a city known for its no-fuss high-end restaurants.

We shamelessly looked up the Mumbai Vada Pav on Google before we ordered and were drooling at the thought of the white bread sandwiches filled with fried potato patties.

So when the little hotdog-shaped snacks came, we cooed at their adorable presentation. We would have liked more of the chat masala sprinkled atop the hotdog, however, and when paired with the crispy okra fries, it felt more like we were at a fast-food joint than a French-Asian brasserie.

The okra fries were more fry than okra, and the apparently different dips tasted more or less identical – perhaps a mix-up in the kitchen.

The mains were also playfully presented. My partner’s Muse Thali was a delight of miniature plates stacked with various Indian tapas with a colourful pancake on a enormous plate.

But this excitement was soon subdued by a distinct lack of spice and flavour, and the small plates quickly transformed into one giant meal when mixed together.

The MUSE Thali would have worked well as an educational presentation of our solar system – photo: Mia Vines Booth

The choice of gnocchi was admittedly a major curveball on our end, and the density of the gnocchi pasta was difficult to disguise by the meagre amount of pesto.

MUSE may need improvement on the cooking front, but what it lacks in taste it makes up for in presentation, and it’s clear real effort has been made to bring the culture and colour of Indian cuisine to life on every single plate, something the chefs can be commended for.

We left feeling uncomfortably full but jovial, nostalgic for the playful interior and vibrant plates offered by MUSE as we stepped out into dreary rain as it trickled down grey concrete buildings.

MUSE brings an extravagant charm to Bristol’s restaurant scene – photo: Martin Booth

MUSE Brasserie, 37-41 Prince Street, Bristol BS1 4PS

Main photo: Mia Vines Booth

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