Review: The Hole in the Wall, Bristol
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
I'll be honest and admit that my only previous experiences of The Hole in the Wall pub in Bristol have been after-work drinking sessions outside in the sunny garden. It's central location, at the entrance to Queen Square, and overlooking the harbour, makes it the perfect place for drinks after a busy day at the office.
But there is so much more to this popular pub than just somewhere to enjoy a glass of wine. Firstly, it is steeped in history, as it is believed to be the inspiration for the Spyglass Tavern in Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Treasure Island’, where Long John Silver first meets Jim Hawkins. In the chapter ‘Let’s go to Bristol’, The Hole in the Wall aptly fits the novel’s description.
And, as the name suggests, the Hole in the Wall has its own spy-hole that was originally used as a lookout in the 18th century to warn sailors drinking inside of any approaching gangs. The pub also boasts unrivalled views across the harbour to Pirate Captain Blackbeard’s alleged birthplace and childhood home in Redcliffe.
Secondly, it has just undergone a stunning refurbishment to give it a more modern, stylish and contemporary feel. Therefore, I was very excited to be invited along to the re-opening of the pub last week, in order to check out the fresh decor, as well as to try the vegetarian dishes on the brand new seasonal menu.
Initial impressions were great as we entered through the bar area. We were given a really warm and friendly welcome by the staff, as we took our seats on the new velvet sofas. The whole of the bar area looks fantastic, with a gorgeous (and very instagrammable) new interior. Check out the lights in the photo below!
After trying some tasty canapes, we made our way upstairs to the more formal restaurant area for the full Premium Country Pub dining experience. The restaurant has also received a makeover and it has a really smart and contemporary feel to it. But what about the food?
To start, I chose the Thyme-Roasted Portobello Mushrooms in Cropwell Bishop sauce with rustic toast. The sauce was delicious, and although I would have perhaps preferred slightly bigger pieces of mushroom, the dish was delicious overall (and the toast wasn't too crunchy which was great!)
My dining partner chose the Deep-fried Brie in panko breadcrumbs with chutney, and I didn't hear any complaints as it was quickly finished off!
There are only two vegetarian main courses on the menu (excluding pizza) so we decided to order both of them. The Battered Halloumi with twice-cooked chunky chips, minted pea purée and tartare sauce was really tasty, with the generous pieces of halloumi cooked to perfection in the crispy batter.
I thought the Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Tart, which was stuffed with roasted peppers, leeks, confit tomato, and topped with Cropwell Bishop custard and Stilton & walnut crumb, was really well-cooked too (no mushy sweet potato here thank goodness!) Although my hubby did comment that the pastry was just a little bit too thick for his liking.
We were nicely full by this point, and the excellent wine was a great accompaniment to the food. I highly recommend the Agneau Blanc from the extensive wine list - it's a really nice blend of crisp Sauvignon and honeyed Semillon. There is also a large separate cocktail list, as well as a wide range of gins to try (sadly I didn't get to try either, but I enjoyed just reading about them on the menu!)
Having seen delicious-looking desserts being served to nearby tables, we knew we wouldn't be able to say no to a third course. The only choice for me was the Melting Chocolate & Peanut Bomb, which was filled with sticky toffee pudding and peanut butter cream, and served with Bourbon vanilla ice cream & hot salted caramel sauce. It looked sensational and cracked open in front of our eyes as the waitress poured over the hot sauce. It was incredibly rich, and I would probably recommend sharing it as I struggled to finish it by myself, but if you're a peanut butter fan, you'll absolutely love it!
My husband chose the Vanilla Creme Brulee, with home-baked sultana & oatmeal biscuits, and this was a much more manageable dessert (in all my excitement over the Melting Chocolate & Peanut Bomb, I completely forgot to take a picture of this but I can confirm it looked delicious too!)
Verdict: I'd highly recommend a visit to the newly re-furbished The Hole in the Wall. The service was excellent throughout the evening, and it was obvious that all the staff are very proud and excited about the next chapter in this historic pub's story. Despite there not being a huge choice for vegetarians, we enjoyed every dish that we tried, and we'll definitely return for the food, and not just drinks, in the future.
Have you been to The Hole in the Wall lately? I'd love to hear about your experience. Leave me a comment below!
Disclaimer: I was provided with complimentary food & drinks in return for an honest review. All thoughts & pictures are my own.