By Isabelle Blakeney, 3rd Year English and History
The Croft Magazine// Little Hollows Pasta has become something of a Redland institution since its opening in October last year and has firmly placed itself on the bucket list of every Bristol food-lover. As a stripped back café/deli in the day that transforms into a vibrant but classy restaurant in the evening, this eatery has been described as a visit to Italy accessible via Chandos Road.
Having started as a high-brow take on street food, the pasta-haven already had a name for itself on the Bristol culinary scene, and the daily window display of handmade pasta has helped to secure it as a permanent institution. Little Hollows prides itself in its local connections, and the chalkboard- lined walls pay tribute to familiar names like Left Handed Giant and Corks of Cotham.
Our visit commenced with a warm reception from the front of house staff, and we were quickly seated at our candle-lit table and given a brief explanation of the menu. Though the stripped-back décor and jovial chatter created a slight echo that caused some trouble for my parents’ ageing ears, with a bit of shuffling and slightly raised voices we could just about communicate.
The menu is simple: six starters and five mains to choose from. As ingredients are chosen based on seasonality and availability, be prepared for the menu to differ from what you’ve seen online. For drinks, I was tempted by the peach bellini or Aperol spritz nestled among the starters on the food menu, but ended up opting for an Uva Non Grata- basically the white wine with the coolest name. Luckily my habit of judging of the book by its cover paid off, and I was served a fresh, sweet glass that perfectly accompanied the pasta. My father went for a Sangiovese-Merlot with notes of vanilla and plum, and both glasses went down slightly too easily.
Food wise, we decided to split two starters between three to save room for the pasta, and believe me, space saving is an important skill at Little Hollows. I would recommend arriving only on a very empty stomach.
First up was the candied beetroot with whipped gorgonzola. The beetroot had a woody undertone that ensured the candied aspect didn’t overwhelm. The gorgonzola was creamy and mild, but with enough of a kick to cut through the sweetness of the beetroot. As someone who’s cheese pallet hasn’t upgraded since childhood, I was surprised at my enjoyment at something that’s traditionally so blue.
It set the standards high, but the pumpkin and burrata came in at a close second. The mulberry molasses enhanced and deepened the sweetness of the squash, but the cold burrata lifted it and the scattering of roasted hazelnuts created an explosion of textures and flavours.
For mains, we opted for the Agnolotti with roasted cherry tomato, roast garlic, mascarpone, mozzarella, fresh thyme, and parmesan, the Parpadelle with Creedy Carver Duck Leg Ragu, and the Tortoloni with butternut squash, sage, amaretti, and hazelnut crumb. After reading that abundance of ingredients, we were surprised to be met with three relatively simple looking dishes.
For me, the squash was a firm favourite- sweet and aromatic, but with the tang of the parmesan and crunch of the hazelnut. The Agnolotti was nice, but the garlic overpowered the subtleness of the other flavours such that nothing else was particularly noticeable. The duck, however, was slightly disappointing. For me, duck is a hard one to get right- it so easily takes on the flavour and texture of cat food, and unfortunately, this dish didn’t quite come out on top.
Desserts were tempting, but at this point our stomachs were so full that we collectively agreed to go without.
In terms of final thoughts, I think the experience generally depends on the menu you get when you’re there. The starters were original and exciting, and the pasta itself was well done, so in that sense it lives up to its name. The mains, however, weren’t quite as good as I was expecting. I’ve heard wonderful things from other people and other reviews, so perhaps it was just the dishes that we went for, but for the price, they were ordinary, even verging on boring. Our bill, for two glasses of wine, two starters and three bowls of pasta was almost £100.
Was it worth it? Personally, I wouldn’t say so. The staff were lovely, the starters were delicious, and it was a generally enjoyable experience. But if you’re looking for pasta that leaves you reminiscing for years to come, Little Hollows slightly missed the mark.
Featured Image: By Isabelle Blakeney
What are your thoughts on Little Hollows Pasta? Let us know!