Last weekend, Ian and I went to see the comedian Mark Watson. It was a Saturday so we decided to head over to Bristol a little earlier to go for dinner and Ian’s hairdresser recommended Souk Kitchen, a small middle-Eastern restaurant right opposite the venue we were going to.
I’m going to try hard to not make this review too gushing but I’m not exaggerating when I say that this was one of the best meals of my life…in the Top Ten for sure!
It is a small but brightly-coloured space and we were greeted warmly by the staff before being seated. Although I had read reviews that their fish curry was amazing, I persuaded Ian to go for the mezze because it meant we could try a little bit of everything. I asked how many dishes would be recommended for two people and the waitress said five…we ordered seven as we just couldn’t choose between them!
I started with a rose and elderflower spritzer and Ian had a Moroccan beer as we waited for our (many) plates to arrive.
I’ll start with my two favourite dishes:
One of the mezze specials that day was a roasted cauliflower drizzled with burnt butter, herbs and seeds and sat atop a creamy herby dip. I think cauliflower is still having a bit of a moment and roasting it really brings out a lot more flavour than boiling it – I made sure this dish was on my side of the table!
I also loved the chargrilled chicken wings which were meaty and juicy. The meat fell off the bone and this was served with toum, a garlic dip similar to aioli and packed with flavour.
One of the things I love about Wahaca (another of my favourite places to eat) is how they take what is in season in the UK and put their own twist on it. This is exactly what Souk Kitchen did to poached salmon, new potatoes and broad beans, a quintessentially English dish brought alive with herbs, spices and Yemeni hilbeh, a fenugreek dip.
The lamb kofta was a little on the small side but served in a delicious sauce – so much so that I almost preferred it to the lamb itself.
Ian is a big hummus fan and I don’t think we can go back to the boring supermarket pots after this plate of it. Topped with chickpeas, herbs and a burnt chili butter, this was delicious with garlic flatbread dipped in.
Finally, my least favourite dish was the roasted halloumi. It looked beautiful but was drizzled with such a sugary orange blossom honey dressing that it was just a little too sweet for me. We still ate it (of course!) but this would probably be the only thing I wouldn’t order again.
Ian was full after this feast but we still had some time before the gig so I ordered us some sweet mint tea and a buttermilk, cardamom and rose pannacotta to share, topped with roasted nectarines. Cardamom is a spice you need to be quite careful with; too much and the dish can taste medicinal. This was right on the edge for me but with the roasted fruit, the pannacotta was delicious.
Considering how much we had to eat, this was very reasonably priced and both the food and the warm service would make me return in a heartbeat. I loved the mezze dishes and how each one came with its own sauce or dip – ideal for dunking flatbreads into. Middle Eastern cooking is something I don’t really do myself at home and Bath doesn’t have a huge variety of these restaurants so it makes finding a good one that little bit more special.