Passion, food and eco-awareness collide in magnificent fashion at Bordeaux Quay, an elegant harbour side restaurant that offers floor-to-ceiling views of Bristol’s waterfront. The restaurant is housed in a former docks warehouse built in the 1920s and is named after the stretch of dockside where, until the late 50s, boats would bring barrels of Bordeaux wine from France.
Bordeaux Quay was the brain child of Environmental entrepreneur John Pontin and award-winning chef, Barny Haughton, who came together with a vision for new kind of restaurant serving top-drawer cuisine with a commitment to the local, the sustainable and the organic, not to mention responsible energy use, zero waste principles and community food education.
Waste not, want not
This year-long renovation project saw Bordeaux Quay transformed from a dockside warehouse into a sleek and sustainable restaurant, brasserie, deli and cookery school. Unwanted materials were either recycled or auctioned or donated to charity. Fridges were reused, doors were re-hung and the marble bar tops became work surfaces in the cookery school. The bar back is made from old wine crates, much of the furniture in the brasserie is made from sustainable chestnut, oak and ash and the upholstery made from Isle of Bute wool.
Bordeaux Quay is a big building, around 1,600 square metres in total, with solar hot water panels on the roof, low energy lighting and motion sensors in many rooms. Insulation is designed to conserve the heat from the bakery ovens and kitchens in order to reduce the need for heating in the winter. The skylight and the large windows allow natural ventilation to cool the building in the summer and reduce the need for artificial lighting during the day. Adding to Bordeaux Quay’s eco-aware credentials, water collected from a rooftop rainwater-harvesting tank is used to flush toilets and mineral water is also a no-no with specially filtered tap water served sparkling or still in reusable glass bottles and free of charge. Even the staff are encouraged to travel to work on foot, by bike or by public transport.
European tradition at local level
The restaurant’s emphasis on seasonality and traceability has been good news and great business for local farms and producers. It’s this approach that dictates the strategy of sourcing much of the fresh produce from the West Country and led to Bordeaux Quay becoming the first restaurant to achieve the Soil Association’s Catering Mark Gold. In addition, the strong Italian links of managing directors Luke and Alex Murray, ensure that the Mediterranean traditions of using the best seasonal produce are maintained, and also that the restaurant is able to source the best quality oils, wines and other ingredients from the continent.
The food served in the spacious and elegant restaurant, situated on the first floor and offering stunning views, is light and modern but with roots firmly entrenched in the traditions of provincial European cooking. All the usual suspects you’d expect to see on a good quality, modern British menu are there to enjoy. Slow-roast pork belly, duck breast with seasonal greens, Cornish pollack, wild sea trout....you get the picture. As ever, though, it’s the quality of the food that counts and this is where the kitchen really delivers with aplomb. The menu marries European flavours, dishes and traditions with locally sourced, seasonal and, whenever possible, organic ingredients from across the South West. This emphasis on seasonality is underlined by the daily updated menu. Fish comes from Cornish day boats, animals are bought whole and no aspect is wasted with trimmings used for stock in sauces and stews.
At ground level, the more informal and relaxed brasserie serves first-class café style food throughout the day (moules frites, macaroni cheese with parmesan breadcrumbs, pork and herb sausages with mash...) in a bright and breezy dining room that opens out onto a swanky alfresco dining area on the water's edge.
The deli sells a range of Bordeaux Quay’s handmade products including preserves and pastries. There are also artisan, traditional and modern breads and pastries from the in-house bakery, made using organic flours from Gloucestershire.
Budding chefs can also take advantage of the not-for-profit cookery school that offers a range of workshops, courses and demonstrations. The cookery school seeks to develop links with local organisations to share information on sustainable living, cooking and eating and all revenue is channelled into initiatives for local schools and community groups.
Telephone: 0117 943 1200.
Address: V-Shed, Canons Way, Bristol.
Open: Mon-Sat, lunch, noon-3pm, dinner, 6.30-10.30pm.