Review: BOX-E, Bristol

Back before Jay Rayner’s recent stellar review of BOX-E, the restaurant had been on our hit list for a fair few months. Returning from Japan with some yen, Iain and I decided to exchange it and book ourselves a reservation as a way of keeping the holiday blues at bay.

ox tongue starter

BOX-E at Wapping Wharf

We have loved the opening of Wapping Wharf, it’s a wonderful area so close to home and work, full of independent shops, cafes and restaurants – including my favourite coffee shop Little Victories. Its arrival has been amazing if a little hard on my bank balance.

Not too long after the Gaol Ferry Steps shops opened in Wapping Wharf, CARGO 1 an array of stacked shipping crates arrived. Yet more delicious shops and eateries to try and Iain and I have been working our way through them gradually. BOX-E was the last on our hit-list and it was well worth the wait.

With only 14 covers, this is a cosy restaurant but the seating is managed well. There are four seats up on the bar at the ‘Chef’s table’, unfortunately, these were already taken when it came to booking, and the others are fitted rather strategically around the rest space. We were seated at the back of the restaurant and I immediately fell in love with the plates on the table, almost too good to eat off of.

What we ate

After seating, delicious bread was delivered to our table. With an amazingly crisp crust, it was served with a whipped butter, topped with sea salt and seaweed.

butter with salt and seaweed

The menu isn’t extensive, a choice of four starters, three mains, two desserts and a cheese plate, but sometimes less really is more. I am a nightmare at making decisions and despite the minimal menu found it extremely difficult to choose between the delicious sounding plates on offer.

To start Iain went for the grilled ox tongue. The plate was bright with the colours of salad leaves and radish. The ox tongue, accompanied by pickled vegetables and a Dijon dressing, I was allowed to steal a bite, the tongue was super-soft and the salad light.

ox tongue starter

My starter, the baked duck egg was simply delicious. It felt rather decadent by comparison but it remained not too rich and I have been dreaming of it ever since. Flavoured with sumac and the chorizo, this would make an incredible brunch dish. A pot of creamy deliciousness topped with the crunch of crispy leeks.

duck egg

Then onto mains, Iain went for the Hake which was served with Jersey royals, monk’s beard—a samphire-esque vegetable—and anchovy butter. This dish was light and delicious, the flakey fish was topped with that ever important crispy skin. The potatoes had soaked up the buttery juices and in all honesty, I would be going for this dish if we ever find it on the menu again.

hake main

I chose the meat option for my main which was pork belly.  Served on a bed of bulgar wheat and topped with rainbow chard, this was a good dish. The nutty bulgar wheat was full of seeds, the pork portion generous and I can’t express how good the crackling was. 

pork main

I find it extremely hard to say no to a chocolate pud so opted for the chocolate mousse with salt caramel, hazelnuts and buttermilk. This was everything you would want a chocolate mousse to be, creamy and smooth.

chocolate mousse box-e

I am not one to go for a cheese plate but after trying some of Iain’s I think next time we visit I will be going it. The rather quirkily named ‘Sheep rustler’ cheese was served alongside a celery salt cracker and apple jelly. It really was so delicious I managed to steal a few bites from Iain. The cracker was super light and jelly was a not-too-sweet accompaniment – everything in one bite was a perfectly balanced. I am definitely going to have to source some sheep rustler cheese for myself.

sheep rustler cheese

And then it was over. A delicious few hours spent with lovely service in a warm and cosy atmosphere. We will definitely be returning.

Dinner at BOX-E cost around £40 a head including drinks.

You can find BOX-E at Cargo 1, Wapping Wharf, Bristol, BS1 6WP.

You can keep up to date with BOX-E on their twitter and instagram.

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