It’s a brave restaurant whose menu consists largely of pizza and pasta to open almost next door to the largest Pizza Express in the South West.
But that’s exactly what Wildwood on Regent Street in Clifton Village has now done, becoming the 20th restaurant in the rapidly expanding chain.
Still found mostly in leafy London commuter towns such as Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire and Maidstone in Kent, Wildwood has recently expanded as far west (until now) as Salisbury in Wiltshire and north to Nottingham.
The soulless character of this latest opening was best exemplified by the choice of Ronan Keating and Phil Collins on the stereo when I visited on a Monday lunchtime.
In what was most recently a kitchen showroom, there are two distinct halves to Wildwood. One is a smaller dining room on the left as you walk in, featuring dark wood paneling. On the other side, the larger half of the restaurant has a lighter feel, with cream leather banquettes and a feature wall at the far end with a display of coloured wine bottles.
From a menu of burgers, steaks, pasta, pasta, pizza, risottos and salads featuring more than 40 choices for a main course, I chose the spaghetti with oak roasted salmon (£9.85), featuring a chunk of fish the size of my three-year-old daughter’s fist, crunchy broccoli and a creamy white wine sauce.
It may not have been the greatest test of the kitchen but still could have benefited from a lot more seasoning.
Wildwood is certainly not somewhere to rush to check out, but there is at least one exciting aspect here – a clue of which is given in the revealing of an original hand-carved sign for ‘Lloyds Bank Limited’ on the right half of this double-fronted restaurant.
Explore downstairs and you’ll find two thick metal safe doors from the building’s days as a bank, as well as what looks like once upon a time was a sink and next to it perhaps rudimentary oven, both now midway down a dead-end corridor by the loos.
Will Wildwood appeal to those wanting to find somewhere new to eat in Bristol? Don’t bank on it.
Wildwood, 18/20 Regent Street, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 4HG