At The Kensington Arms in Redland, I’m acutely conscious that I’m the remaining face any kitchen brigade wants to see over a protracted bank vacation weekend. This boozer, a few miles from Bristol city centre, have been mentioned to me by way of food-fans numerous instances, and the words “conventional” and “right” frequently featured, as did “dependably superb Sunday lunch”. We all want one of these up our sleeve: there’s no longer a problem within the world that roast potatoes and gravy do now not enhance. Aside from, possibly, gout, though by way of that level you could as properly crack on.
The Kenny, because it’s affectionately called, is one of the modern-day initiatives of chef Josh Eggleton, whom I met throughout a judging table on BBC2’s Great British Menu. It became the collection celebrating “first-rate Britons”, wherein chefs queued as much as treatment trout in tribute to their forefathers and present puddings symbolizing the Windrush. Eggleton, I discovered right here, is the face in the back of the Michelin-starred us of a pub The Pony & Trap in Chew Magna, and become a curiously humble culinary genius, in addition to a restaurant entrepreneur who has opened some of the chip shops and bistros across the Bristol place.
Still, for the duration of TV competitions, wherein chefs are pushed to be showy, thematic or to “cook outside their consolation sector”, I often long to taste the sort of food they suppose is scrumptious once they’re not being asked to make extraordinary telly. Nobody on MasterChef: The Professionals ever says, “Today, I’ve cooked a leek and jersey royal potato soup, and served it with clean sourdough and top salted butter”, but by God, occasionally I wish they would. A woman can undergo only so many offal bonbons with a Pernod clafoutis chaser.
Joyously, at The Kenny, with Luke Hawkins (ex Pony & Trap) at the helm, the unmarried-sheet Sunday lunch menu starts offevolved with precisely this trustworthy leek-and-spud pottage. It is velvety, fragrant and balm-like. It strikes a chord in my memory of the folly of how, in recent many years, Brits have been made to experience sheepish over recent decades approximately choosing soup as a starter, as if it’s only one step up from that other traditional Seventies opening act, “a tumbler of pasteurized orange juice”. The Kenny has the soup to exchange all of that.
Other starters blanketed a crab cake with curried mayo and pickled kohlrabi, at the same time as a few crisp brawn got here armed with each pickle and piccalilli. Brawn, or head cheese, is made from the wealthy, flavourful, gelatinous meat from a pig’s head, which all chefs swear is the quality bit. It won’t be to be everybody’s taste, but if you’ve ever eaten a reasonably-priced sausage, I’m pretty sure you’ve eaten up a great deal worse.
We were delighted with a bowl of accurate, fresh, perfectly judged Cornish mussels in a wealthy, piquant, cider-and-cream broth, which Charles selected and which I pilfered with a protracted spoon.
The Kenny, I felt after my first white peach bellini, is the form of the pub that offers you a crisis of judgment of right and wrong approximately flagging it as much as the out of doors world. The locals are so satisfied right now on this space, that is a ways from gargantuan, and its welcoming, open-kitchen back room that’s peppered with peculiar, culinary-themed art and staffed with the aid of folks that are a long way, some distance greater superb than they want to be for a pub, as if this were the Mirabelle in the late Nineteen Nineties.
The Kenny is cleanly saved with non-sticky tables, spotless bathrooms and cozy banquettes which have no longer as yet been spattered with gravy. It has the entirety a boozer should have, aside from, perhaps, a dishevelled-faced pub dog ambling approximately and begging crisps.
We drank Dashwood Pinot Gris from New Zealand at £7 a pitcher and waited for what is thought on the menu as “The Main Event”. Charles had medium-rare dry-elderly Hereford pork rump – thick, pinky-red slices, with fluffy, mild Yorkshire pudding, crisp, plump, roast potatoes, purple cabbage and one of those carrots which might be so fancy, they provide you with simplest one.
I located my personal nirvana in a heavenly sweet potato and chestnut wellington: tender, candy, nutty and perfectly seasoned, with superb pastry. I actually have tasted some beastly vegetarian wellingtons in my time. However, this one restored my faith. In reality, supermarkets putting together their Christmas food services may want to learn from The Kenny, and save veggie food fanatics from every other Yule consuming what tastes like budgie feed wrapped in the Dead Sea scrolls.
For pudding, we shared a tremendously memorable frangipane tart, a deconstructed Bakewell of sorts, with tonka bean ice-cream, which I usually think of as a type of wicked, next-degree vanilla. I left The Kenny full to the brim of deliciousness and on foot like a pregnant penguin. This little nook of Redland received my belly, and then it gained my heart.
• The Kensington Arms 35-37 Stanley Road, Bristol, 0117 944 6444. Open lunch all week, midday-2.30pm (3pm Sat, 7pm Sun); dinner Mon-Sat, 6-9pm (nine.30pm Fri & Sat). About £30 a head for 3 courses à la carte; set weekday lunch £12 for 2 publications, £15 for 3; set Sunday lunch £22 for 2 publications, £26 for 3, all plus beverages and service.