- formally the ‘Glass Boat’ sitting peacefully under the last of the autumnal trees on the River is just one of those boats. There is nothing better (or harder) than grabbing something good to eat last minute when out and about on a Saturday night in a busy city, having not booked anything...
Wandering down the roads behind St Nicolas Market however and you will come across several of those boat house based restaurants, not least one that caught the eye: FiSH...
Wander the streets of Bristol and there is a feverish murmur of shoppers and party goers making the most of the mild November evening. Bars are buzzing, restaurants overflowing and even the Christmas market is lit up ready for next months celebrations.
We tried several favourite eateries all only on reservations or just no tables until 9:30pm! Wandering down the roads behind St Nicolas Market however and you will come across several of those boat house based restaurants, not least one that caught the eye. FiSH - formally the ‘Glass Boat’ sitting peacefully under the last of the autumnal trees on the River is just one of those boats. Having had a lockdown refurb it’s now become (as it’s name suggests) a fish restaurant. Always worth a go... and tonight is our lucky night because they have a table!
We like simple, it means the chef is confident in what they cook...Oysters are definitely a specialty here...
We are greeted by a young, calm and confident front of house manager who seats us near the bar area in the spacious open plan boat deck restaurant. It’s busy, but feels comfortable. He wastes no time in delivery of the very sharp but simple menu. We like simple, it means the chef is confident in what they cook. Don’t be put off by lean choice - starters and nibbles range from crusty sourdough to plump green olives, or grilled sardines. There is something for everyone and it is assumed you probably won’t be here if you’re not a fan of fish…
Oysters are definitely a specialty here - we watch the beautifully laid out platters of them appear from the lower deck kitchen to eager customers... not my bag so much but if you’re a fan then you would not be disappointed.
Divided into neat sections, the menu screams fresh ingredients - Angel Bakery - Mounts Bay Sardines - Devon Scallops, small plates or whole fish boat classics, take your pick. The manAgee wastes no time offering drinks and explaining they have a shared platter of Brill or Sea Bream on offer this evening, and we waste no time in ordering it, plus a selection of small starters / nibbles.
the sardines arrived and I was underwhelmed. £7 for two of the smallest sardines you’ll ever see, regardless of how fresh, is a steep price to pay.
Drinks arrive promptly, soon followed by those olives, some sourdough bread and for good measure the sardines. To be honest the sardines arrived and I was underwhelmed. £7 for two of the smallest sardines you’ll ever see regardless of how fresh, is a steep price to pay. They tasted fantastic but give me four - I felt hard done by. We decided to have a sharing platter for a main with sides of chips and mashed peas. In a fish restaurant always ask the server about the ingredients: what’s the difference between Brill and Sea Bream, for example? Well these guys know and explain in a way that makes you want both! We plumb for the Brill - a flat fish, sweet, tender, flavoursome loveliness, served whole - just how it should be. While waiting for the main to arrive and eating the delicious starters, it’s nice to watch 3 staff work the floor, the young manger and his two assistants are on it, they are covering a full house and making it look easy - drinks - food delivery and customer photo shoots are not stopping the flow of the place. The tables are adorned with neat paper coverings, so nothing sticky to worry about, and the “chip shop“ take away is doing good trade behind us.
Chips and peas arrive - chips are cold! First blip in the evening...
The main arrives as described - whole fresh Brill. It’s an imposing site on the plate but under the steely outer skin is the beautiful fresh flakey fish, we are impressed with the fish cookery, no doubt these guys are on their game. Easy to ruin such great ingredients. To be honest the fish needs nothing else, it’s that good, just order that if you like. Chips and peas arrive - chips are cold! First blip in the evening, but in no time at all they are switched out for the hot version, my only criticism would be the chips & thats being picky, they are more like over fried bits of chips - rather than CHIPS. It‘s a shame but not a deal breaker and not a distraction from the quality of the fish course.
DESERTS are also simple... a few smart choices without being complicated..
Derserts! Blimey we are stuffed after all that amazing food, but we can't really review without trying a pud! We choose the chocolate mouse with coffee ice cream,light bitter mouse and a fresh sweet coffee ice cream, what is not to like?ok it was served in a huge bowl and was not elegant but you know what it just doesnt matter, the portion size is good and it tastes delicious.
FiSH does exactly what it says on top of the boat, its a fish restaurant that serves great food with fresh ingredients . But more than that the people working there give time and care to their roles. The service was excellent, the environment is well spaced clean and well thought out. You would be forgiven for thinking you need to dress up, but there is no need, it is a very relaxed and welcoming eatery, dress smart if you want but don’t worry about it. Family friendly? it certainly is ...it even has a take away on board - we may have to give that a try next time. The toilets are clean, but they are downstairs which is a shame because there is a ramp onto the boat, suggesting disability access is good, and it would be if the toilets weren't down stairs. Perhaps we missed something, but its worth noting.
Value wise, well its fair we reckon, good fish isn't a cheap ingredient! They should sort that Sardine starter out, put four on the plate or drop the price to £3.50, and perhaps use bigger spuds for the chips. Other than that this place is definitely worth a look if your out and about in Bristol, lets hope its stays this good.
HOW WE SCORED IT - OVERALL 7.75/10
Food score 8/10
Service score 9/10
Comms score 9/10
Disability access 5/10
Sticky table 8/10
Value for money 8/10
What is cost £90 3 courses and drinks.
What it’s worth £105.00 - we’d rather leave a good tip and pass on the sardines!
Will we go back? Yes!Yes! Yes!