Casamia 4444

The General, Lower Guinea Street , Bristol, BS1 6SY

01179 592884

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  • Casamia 2011
  • Casamia 2011
  • Casamia 2011
  • Casamia 2011

SquareMeal Review of Casamia

“The complete package, everything about this restaurant is top-notch”, so writes a fan of Michelin-starred Casamia – Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’ harbourside gaff located in the old Bristol General Hospital building. Readers reckon the interior is surprisingly warm and inviting, with cordial staff adding to the mood and dishes often brought the table by the chefs themselves: “every diner is treated as a member of the extended family”, notes one regular. As ever, Casamia takes diners on a thoroughly flavoursome journey involving “inspirational food and witty drinks” – all defined by the seasons and served on “dish-specific crockery”. The epigrammatic menu gives few clues to the sheer brilliance of the food, but all is revealed once the “stunning” plates start arriving: ‘carabineros’ comprises deep-sea prawns on a sweet seaweed meringue, while venison tartare comes in a ”smoking sandwich” with cavolo nero and horseradish cream. Other “delicately complex” wonders might run from a “truly top-class” modern take on sole véronique to an astounding duo of grouse: confit leg with pasta and a quail’s egg yolk on potato purée, plus melting breast with cold rose-petal variations and a hit of ras-el-hanout on the crispy skin. To finish, readers love the ‘collection of apples’ and the butternut squash delectably matched with clove-scented natural caramel and brown butter. Overall, we can understand why one reader deems Casamia his “absolute favourite restaurant”. Also check out the Sanchez-run Pi Shop and Paco Tapas next door. 

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9.5

Food & Drink: 9.5

Service: 10.0

Atmosphere: 9.5

Value: 9.3

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 24 October 2016

It is a mystery, if not a surprise, why Casamia has not been promoted from having just a single Michelin star, which means it remains on the same level as inferior pubs that we have eaten in, restaurants where the star has been inherited at least three times over by the sous chef and offshoots opened by “names” with no real reason for existing apart from easy money for the owner. Perhaps it is because Peter Sanchez is something of a pioneer, dreaming up dishes with unusual combinations of ingredients, designing dish-specific crockery, and melding techniques to formulate an advanced approach that could be seen as a step too far for a chef who should be still finding his feet, and is perhaps not always fully understood by judgemental inspectors with a strict agenda to adhere to. We are struck by the friendly nature of Casamia, where every diner is regarded almost as a member of the extended family, as shown by the willingness of the staff, both kitchen, with the chefs bringing up the various dishes, and front of house, to listen to and discuss things with the punters. Once again stunning dish followed stunning dish, right from the snacks, 3-year aged Parmesan mousse in a light bric tartlet with cheese sprinkles, deep-sea carabineros prawns on a seaweed meringue which gave up a sweet seafood aftertaste, and a smoking sandwich of venison tartare with cavolo nero and horseradish cream, to the petits fours, a superlight and delicious mix of damson and bay leaf Turkish delight, and a clever porcini mushroom fudge, which could almost double as a canapé. Interposed between these delights was a succession of delicately complex taste, texture and visual wonders, some merely brilliant and others simply world-class. The combination of yoghurt sorbet, pickled fennel, sweet beetroot risotto with soft and firm rice and pistachio for extra texture was superb. The duo of brown trout, loin Japanese style with coal dust, wonderful skin crisps, shiitake and a ginger dashi perfectly balanced with the fish, and roast belly in a smoked mousse with trout roe and, this time, kombu dashi, was a winner. I tend to avoid vegetarian dishes where possible, and when faced with something named autumnal salad, my defences are activated; but the scorched radicchio leaf, the concentrated taste of sweet carrot, the goat’s curd and yoghurt, the celeriac jam, the parsley dressing and the swede all made for an outstanding, complex and wonderfully satisfying dish which completely belied its simple appellation and I was fully won over. The Casamia version of sole Véronique relies, quite rightly, on the best fish with an egg emulsion sabayon, perfect grapes, amazing leeks and a roe powder condiment to produce a truly top-class dish. It’s game bird season, so a duo of grouse seemed just the thing, and the confit leg with pasta was quite astounding and beautifully supported by quail’s egg yolk on potato purée and the lovely herby touch of oregano; not to be outdone, the melt-in-the-mouth breast with a grouse jus worked really well with cold rose petal variations and an intense hit of ras el hanout on the crisp skin. Dehydrated butternut squash matched with natural caramel, from which a pleasant clove aroma emanated, and brown butter formed an historic pairing with the “orange” Ruländer (aka Pinot Gris) from Austria, just one of a series of well-considered bottles in the wine flight, and this set the scene for an intense passion fruit mousse with light tarragon meringue, and the final dish “Collection of apples” comprising multiple elements of different types of apple with varying but never clashing levels of acidity and sweetness washed down with a complement of Herefordshire apple liqueur. For us this one of the best meals of the year and, with regard to where Casamia should figure in relation to its peers, we think that The Sunday Times Top 100 list, which represents the view of the food-loving general public instead of the usual anonymous inspectors in guides such as Michelin or AA, is where one should look.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 12 August 2016

Exquisite was the word that was repeatedly used by us to describe the dishes we had at Casamia, initially when they were served and made such a wonderful visual impression, but also when our palates had been subtly assailed in such a clever combination of ways. As usual the dishes were brought to the table by the chefs, who were justifiably keen to ensure that we were properly informed. This time we started with “snacks” comprising chicory leaves topped with Bristol honey and tastily completed with truffle and slightly peppery nasturtium leaves, a tiny faux quiche Lorraine with the most delicate of pastry and a sprinkling of smoked bacon crumbs, and an amazing seaweed meringue served on a shaped rock with lovely dressed crab and a covering of slightly crispy seaweed. Two versions of mackerel followed, one a tartare, the other warm, the first strikingly red pepper coloured and the accompanying szechuan pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce and crème fraîche accentuating the freshness of the fish, the second showing how to make an exemplary bisque with the mackerel and prawns, again red pepper, this time barbecued but in no way dominating the delicate fish. We wondered whether the squid carbonara with its chorizo bits and a terrific cheesy sauce might have been inspired by Pierre Koffmann it was that good, and the next dish, heritage Isle of Wight tomatoes bringing together a real variety of different tastes in the raw, grilled, compressed, jelly and seed state and with mozzarella and basil in true Italian style was absolutely outstanding. Turbot is a favourite with us, but putting the beautifully cured fish and fish cake with Thai rice and with Thai style sauces, sea herbs and cucumber core brought a whole new dimension to our enjoyment of the king of fish. There was no let up in the quality of the ingredients as we were presented with Scottish Wagyu, braised for two days in teriyaki sauce and with a BBQ tang to it, and a gesture to the past with Jersey Royal mash, heritage carrot and a beef reduction sauce for the ultimate Sunday “roast”. One of the most unusual palate cleansers ever in the form of a deconstructed sheep’s curd cheesecake with raw peas, pea shoots, seaweed and a sharp lemony cream heralded the desserts, which on paper sounded fairly classic. They weren’t, of course, but the peach mini meringues, aerated peach purée and soft, sweet peach cubes in a thyme-flavoured juice were a modern masterpiece, as was the strawberry dish with its Cheddar Valley fruit, sorbet, cream and strawberry crisps with black pepper. We tend to draw attention to seasoning only when over or under is involved, but, with the balance required in the complex combinations here, it must be absolutely right, and Casamia has it down to a nicety. Special mention must also be made of the wonderful wine selection presented by Román, the dedicated sommelier, which not only complemented the dishes perfectly but stood in its own right as an example of the production of some top winemakers and even included a Gaja Barolo. And, to cap it all, we had the pleasure of talking to Peter Sanchez about his eloquently expressed plans for the future. This was a fine dining experience of the very highest order, and, by any standards, worthy of further recognition by the national guides.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 01 March 2016

Nobody goes to Casamia for meat and two veg and protein junkies would certainly not get their fix on the 10 course winter tasting menu here. What you do get, though, is a carefully constructed, beautifully designed, technically skilful and, above all, thoroughly flavoursome journey through a series of seasonal ingredients, and 10 courses are actually expanded to 12 with the excellent canapés and petits fours without the diner ever feeling stretched. Having seen the photos of the interior of the new premises on social media, we were pleasantly surprised to find that they were rather unflattering, and we judged the interesting layout to be quite warm, especially with most tables enjoying a good view of the open kitchen, and blissfully free from muzak. Front-of-house staff proved to be courteously friendly, and the excellent sommelier, Ramón, expertly guided us through the singular wine flight accompanying the menu and, in the surprising absence of any Cava, started us off with with an attractive fizz from Seville made from a grape which was completely new to us. Another novelty, at least in the UK, was the dishes being brought to table and detailed by the chefs themselves, something we had only previously experienced in a top-class restaurant in Belgium with some other similarities, namely in the kind of imaginative food on offer and the serving sequence. The lovely hors d’oeuvres of broccoli cream on a Colston Bassett base, romanesco cauliflower with 3-year old parmesan and Jerusalem artichoke and truffle heralded the clever combination of hen’s egg mousse, cardamom foam and confit duck making up the amuse-bouche. The melding of ingredients in perfect balance with each other to produce impressive end results turned out to be a major feature of our enjoyment of the meal as a whole. We then moved on to a stunning seaside dish with a difference, shredded white crabmeat with inoki mushrooms and dashi jelly topped with a seaweed salad, the mushroom theme being continued in the following course comprising properly creamy rice, merlot vinegar pearls and dehydrated inoki giving the risotto an intensely mushroomy flavour. Delicious and surprisingly light! The winter root vegetable salad was a work of art: an almost seductive cheese mousse adding texture to the turnip and carrot with moulis crisps all dressed with dots of carrot mousse and nasturtium leaves. We found it utterly appropriate for the home-baked bread to be served at this unusual juncture. Winter brassica figured large in the fish dish as the delicate rainbow trout with hint of smokiness was topped with a cabbage crisp and escorted by red cabbage powder and a bed of super cabbage cream. Possibly the stand-out dish for us was the Hampshire fallow deer, as tender and tasty as could be and beautifully matched with parsnip in the form of snappy crisps and an epic parsnip purée (this description could be regarded as an oxymoron, but on the plate and on the palate it is entirely appropriate). A cheese course of Yorkshire rhubarb crisply cutting into the creamy yet relatively firm Cornish “camembert” was followed by the sweet contrast of celeriac rice pudding, which set up the taste buds perfectly for the two brilliant desserts: firstly a tricksy delight balancing passion fruit seeds against tarragon custard and soft passion fruit mousse against crunchy tarragon mini meringues, and second up what appears to be becoming a video favourite, and with good reason, the “variation of mandarin” in the forms of a quenelle of ice cream, a crisp and a refined mousse. Very good coffee was enjoyed with mignardises - carrot cake and an amusing chocolate fruit and nut lollipop. An all-round top-notch dining experience with one final reason for adding Casamia to our top 20 list of restaurants to return to - the amazing value for money factor.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Foodess platinum reviewer 05 May 2013

I liked this restaurant and the service was excellent, but the privilege of the chef's table doesn't come cheap, but I suppose we didn't exactly skimp on drinks. Four of us were at the bench/pass on bar stools so it is geared for those who want to watch staff and interact with one of the chefs. One brother was tasked with serving us and describing the dishes/processes which was great for me because I am so interested in food per se, but the disadvantage was that the four of us couldn't converse easily being seated in a line. Therefore, I wouldn't opt for the chef's table again purely for this reason, but I'd definitely re-visit. The kitchen was run in a calm atmosphere and with military precision. Saturday evening was full to capacity so the buzz and the fresh decor suited me, not to mention the spotless kitchen, at least the section in view. The lamb was a slight let down (fatty and slightly chewy – a little unwanted surprise) and perhaps not served quite warm enough. The John Dory with cider and greens was good but not ideal for my palate. But to put into perspective, enjoyment level has to be praised and there were a couple of foodie moments to note. Apart from the outstanding goats cheese beetroot tartlets with wafer thin, crisp base which we all adored, the dishes that won the day for me unusually were both sweet, one of which was carrot and thyme – different, not too sweet kind of cake-like and moreish, followed by blood orange which gave a rush of orange fragrance, was delicate in texture, and ooh…

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