Restaurants: The Cauldron – restaurant review

Martin Booth, May 12, 2016

There have been so many new places to eat and drink in Bristol opening over the last few days and weeks – with no sign of any let-up soon – that a magical USP is becoming increasingly hard to find.

The Cauldron on Mina Road in St Werburgh’s is most definitely unique, however, in cooking with pits of charcoal, a 60-litre cast iron cauldron and a Victorian iron stove.

The only other cauldron I have ever been aware of is the one filled with magic potion that Asterix’s friend Obelix fell into when he was a baby.

The cauldrons here don’t unfortunately contain any mythical elixir but something magical certainly does happen within them judging by my lunch on a recent Wednesday.

From the brunch menu served between 10am to 4pm, I enjoyed a ‘greens and grains’ (£7), with bold hits of new flavours in every bite: kale, spinach, sorrel, pak choi, ginger, chilli, garlic, coriander and sesame, mixed together with cous cous and quinoa.

It was so good that I made extra sure every last grain of smoked salt, tiny sprig of coriander and small slice of ginger was on the fork for my last mouthful.

Other brunch items include eggs Florentine or Benedict (£6), pork belly or mushroom ramen (£6), and muesli (£5).

In the evening, the ramen is currently among the £6 starters alongside braised beef short rib and masala roast baby aubergine; with three choices of mains – char siu pork (£9.50), spiced cod (£11) and ‘super greens’ (£9) – an enhanced version of my brunch with the addition of roast tomato.

I later enjoyed a well made macchiato with beans roasted by fellow St Werburgh’s business Extract Coffee out of a neat drinking vessel made by local potter Carmel Eskell.

For those after the stronger stuff, in the fridge there are bottles of Wiper & True made so close that staff at The Cauldron could shout their next order to the brewery just the other side of York Street.

Some of the tables and chairs came from even closer – Re-Furnish next door in fact – while others are from a reclamation yard in nearby Narroways.

To finish my meal came a wonderful little pot of chocolate mouse (£4) on top of which was a blob of foamy aguafaba – a new vegan super-ingredient made from mixing the liquid usually found inside a can of cooked beans.

The Cauldron may have a unique USP but it’s certainly not a gimmick. It’s what chef and co-owner Henry Eldon, most recently executive chef at The Cowshed, calls ‘heirloom’ cooking techniques.

Eldon and his partner Lauren Nash learned some of these techniques while living in India for a year before returning to Bristol and crowdfunding more than £7,500 to help open their dream restaurant in a former internet cafe.

This is confident and assured cooking with a twist (deep fried custard anyone?). Among very healthy competition it’s one of the best new restaurants to open in Bristol this year.

The Cauldron, 98 Mina Road, St Werburgh’s, Bristol, BS2 9XW
0117 914 1321

www.thecauldron.restaurant

 

Read more: Bambalan – review

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