Similar but different is the aim of The Muset by Ronnie, now open in Clifton and retaining the name of the popular restaurant which was on this site for many years. That’s similar but different to the original Ronnie’s in Thornbury, the Good Food Guide’s restaurant of the year in 2009.
Ronnie Faulkner’s new restaurant is one of the most exciting openings in Bristol for several years and has the potential to be one of the best, if not the best, in the city, joining such current names as Bell’s Diner and Greens’, although not aspiring to the Michelin stars of Casamia.
The food is exquisite, from 12-hour pork belly served with Clonakilty black pudding from West Cork, to venison from the Badminton estate and line-caught Cornish bass.
The provenance of the menu here at The Muset by Ronnie may be impeccable, but unfortunately the spelling is not, an ‘a’ missing from Clonakilty on the menu and a rogue ‘i’ on Rooibos tea. These two misspellings were my only gripes, however, during a fabulous meal that finished with an illuminating chat with Faulkner himself, who was having lunch with friends at the first service in his new venture.
Apart from the Penny Farthing on Whiteladies Road, I think that The Muset is the only establishment in Bristol with two distinct entrances snaking around another building in-between. At lunchtime today, I tried unsuccessfully to push open one door, only to have to retrace my steps back to the main entrance (above) by the Lansdown pub.
Once inside, you find a waiting area and well-stocked bar with, bizarrely, identical red hanging lamps to Rosemarino on the other side of the road. After the leather seats in muted tones, it’s up a few stairs to a small dining area, with some walls plain white, and others with expensive-looking red and white wallpaper. There is abstract modern art dotted about the place, and exposed stone fireplaces adding a touch of history. Down some more stairs is the main dining room, in one corner of which is the wine cellar encased in glass.
But most intriguing of all is the chef’s table, enclosed within its own booth on the middle level, with space for eight diners and a small television screen hanging in each corner.
This will be available for bookings only with a special £45 meal and it will be BYO in a nod to the drinks policy at the former Muset. And the screens? These will show you the goings-on direct from the downstairs kitchen as your food is being cooked.
I didn’t see my food being cooked today, but nevertheless was mightily impressed with the results. As I was in a bit of a hurry, I wasn’t able to enjoy a main course on this occasion, instead being recommended the starter of Lyme Bay scallops, garlic puree, pancetta and sage which could more quickly appear in front of me. The scallops were big and juicy, and beautifully-presented with the crunchy shards of pancetta.
The honey-poached pear and mascarpone sorbet, quince trifle, and the intriguing tea brulee made with three different teas, Earl Grey, Matcha from Japan and Rooibos from South Africa will also have to wait until next time.
My choice of desert was the heavenly chocolate fondant, espresso and malt. This was complemented by a macchiato accompanied by two small chocolate truffles with popping candy, a magical end to a wonderful meal in what has immediately become one of Bristol’s finest restaurants.
The Muset by Ronnie, 12-16 Clifton Road, Clifton, Bristol. 0800 8494 411.