It may have been a pair of shipping containers at one time in its life, but the team behind Tare have completely transformed the space inside their portion of Cargo 2 into the epitome of modern chic.
Soft grey Eames-inspired chairs and a dozen solid wooden tables soften the white walls and open stainless steel kitchen. A sliding glass door opens onto the terrace, overlooking the M Shed and the Floating Harbour. It’s the perfect spot to wind down of an evening, in Bristol’s newest food and drink hub.
After some teething problems in their first week, including a torrential downpour short-circuiting the electrics, service was supremely smooth when I arrived for their five-course tasting menu (£35) on Thursday night.
Front of house manager Jemma Correll is formerly of The Ox Clifton, and certainly understands what it means to look after her guests. The tables gradually filled with a mixture of passing trade and bookings, making the interior feel cosy but never cramped.
Most recently at Riverstation, chef Matt Hampshire, who is joined in the kitchen by Joe Wilkin (ex-Flour & Ash), was clearly using the freshest of ingredients for his dishes. The vivid oranges and greens of the first course were a real talking point amongst the diners, and set the tone for an exciting and beautiful menu.
The first dish hit the ground running with punchy flavours: the warm hollandaise sauce ricocheted with fresh orange – more like a sweet curd than anything you’d pour onto eggs Benedict. The egg yolk punctured satisfyingly, and was made to be mopped up with sourdough and salty butter.
The second and third courses continued to delight. Cubes of intensely rich Stornoway black pudding, paired with gently gamey pigeon; and deeply salty mojama tuna (cured and wind-dried in southern Spain) with hot pepper and crisp noodles.
Each dish was subtly linked by the sweet and sour fruit compotes daubed on the plate: orange, rhubarb and passion fruit in a gentle nod to what had come before.
The portions were well sized and didn’t make five rounds seem daunting, but I could happily have eaten the fourth course – pork belly – all over again. In a supremely well-constructed menu, it was absolutely the crowning achievement.
The bright green of the broad beans and salsa verde contrasted beautifully with the dark meat and the clean white plate. The pork belly was meltingly soft; almost velvety. The salty, meaty and smoky flavours were cut in two by vinegary capers and kept the palate fresh and light.
It was an excellent show of culinary skill that finished the savoury courses on a real high.
The final dessert course wasn’t overly sweet despite a caramel-coating, which cracked into spiderwebs with the tap of a spoon. Even the sticky malt cake – lovely when accompanied by a tawny port (£4) – felt light, with complex flavours harking back to that delicious pork belly, and memories of previous dishes echoing in the soft textures.
Such astounding food might suggest stuffiness, but the experience of eating at Tare was wonderfully relaxed.
There was no rush, no shouting from the kitchen or dinging bells for service: just measured concentration and professionalism from the staff. I was given plenty of time to linger over the flavours, and to anticipate the next dish – surely the best part of dining somewhere so exciting.
In short: a wonderful experience and a team tipped for greatness in the future.
Tare, Cargo 2, Wapping Wharf, Bristol, BS1 6ZA
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