By Isabelle Blakeney, 3rd Year English and History
The Croft Magazine// Ah, Soukitchen. I still dream about it. If you’ve seen me in the past couple of weeks, I’ve almost definitely accosted you to detail the dishes served to me at this North Street restaurant on that one fateful Saturday afternoon. Who would have known that a restaurant chosen purely on convenient distance to the Ashton Gate stadium would touch my soul like that? Not me, that’s for sure.
Soukitchen is a mezze heaven inspired by Middle Eastern and North African flavours, and since the opening of its second restaurant on Apsley Road in 2014, it has certified itself as a Bristol institution. Even though it’s been around for a while, a review of this place felt necessary. All want to do is spread the pure joy that it has instilled in me every time I think about it.
Our trip commenced with a warm welcome and quick seating in the corner of the restaurant. The sun was streaming through the floor to ceiling windows, making the abundance of fellow Watford FC fans look slightly ethereal. Which I think may be the first and last time that I ever say that. The restaurant is modern and sleek but with nods to its North African roots in the tile-patterned walls and stacked cans of preserved, all in gloriously aesthetically pleasing packaging.
Having just returned from a week of gluttony in Morocco I was on a bit of a culinary high horse, but I was very quickly humbled by the aromas wafting out of the kitchen. As dishes were steadily carried past us, my excitement for the food began to grow. Our waiter gave us a brief run down of the menu and left us to pore over it in amazement. I noted the recognisable names such as the Abbots Leigh Halloumi, and upon later research discovered Soukitchen’s quiet loyalty to local produce.
We started off with a beer each. I went for a Moroccan Casablanca lager as a little reminisce of my recent travels- I’m no beer expert, but I’d describe it as having notes of Desperados which suited me just fine. My father had a Bristol Beer Factory ale which felt very fitting as a pre-football drink.
For food, I convinced my parents to try the Zaatar flatbread to soak up some of the saucier dishes. The mezze style menu meant that we just picked six of the best-looking dishes between the three of us, and if you’re worried about quantity, I can guarantee that this was more than enough.
Dishes were brought out one at a time to give space to enjoy and appreciate the complex layering of flavours that each dish encompassed. Now, I’m sure I could spend pages detailing my experience with each plate, but really you just need to go and try them for yourself.
My favourites had to be the Halloumi with black seed honey and the smoky baba ghanoush, with the carrots with whipped feta and roasted cauliflower and muhammara coming in at a close second.
Every dish was an explosion of flavours and textures. Some were foreign to me, and the ones that I recognised were paired with something new and exciting, but every plate was exceptional.
Our bellies were well and truly stuffed by the end, but we battled through until every dish was clear. It felt sacrilegious to leave any of the magic that had been served to us on those plates.
We couldn’t stomach a dessert but sipped on espressos as a palate cleanser as we waited to feel like we could move again.
In case you couldn’t tell, I would recommend Soukitchen to everyone and anyone interested in trying different, exciting, exceptionally executed food. Whilst it’s not the cheapest restaurant in Bristol, with most dishes averaging around £8.50, the experience is worth every penny. As a student, if you’re looking for a bit of a treat, gather a few friends together and each pay for one dish. You’ll be taken on a wonderful culinary adventure through the abundance of flavours without breaking the bank. And with the Apsley Road restaurant open, it’s easily accessible to any Redland or Clifton based Bristol students. So for all my fellow Bristol foodies, pay one visit and I promise you won’t regret it!
Featured Image: © Isabelle Blakeney
Have you tried out Soukitchen yet?