If you live in Bristol, and even if you don’t, chances are you’ve heard about Wapping Wharf. Facing the harbour on the south side of the city centre, you’ll find a collection of container-unit restaurants with outdoor seating and enough choice to please everyone. From steamed bao to exotic beers, burgers, tacos and vegan curries, there is something for everyone.
We recently visited (and loved) BOX-E, a fine-dining restaurant upstairs at Cargo 1. It’s already been showered with high praise from critics all over the South West and received a glowing review from Jay Rayner for The Observer not long after it opened.
Elliott Lidstone, owner and head chef, comes from good stock, having most recently been head chef at Michelin-starred L’Ortolan in Reading. Now, with his wife Tessa handling front of house, he’s cooking exceptional seasonal, modern British dishes in a tiny open kitchen and serving them to his 14-seater restaurant housed in (of course) container units.
We first dined here on a wet and windy midweek evening and sat at the kitchen table for BOX-E’s unwritten seven-course tasting menu, which Elliot creates in front of you while chatting through the ingredients and what he’s doing.
The meal included the creamiest of burrata, melt-in-the-mouth ox tongue and an incredible piece of pan-fried hake with a poky harissa and giant couscous. Each dish was perfectly balanced and led seamlessly into the next. We finished with a flourish on a vanilla pannacotta with poached plums and an incredibly rich chocolate mousse with cherries and pistachios.
We were equally impressed by the wine list, which included some options we’d not seen before, including a deliciously fresh Trebbiano Zero – an Italian orange wine.
If you don’t want the seven-course tasting menu at (at the time of writing) £45 a head, you can of course dine a la carte and they open for lunch Wednesday to Saturday, too.
BOX-E is going from strength to strength and we wouldn’t be surprised if it wins a Michelin star soon. After all, Michelin has already passed comment, saying: “Good things come in unusual places – like this great newcomer BOX-E with chef Elliott Lidstone at the helm.” We agree!
By Alex Ryder, Bristol editor