Stuart Forster heads to Clifton reports on the experience of dining at The Mint Room Bristol Indian restaurant.
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The Mint Room is a modern Indian restaurant in the Clifton district of Bristol.
We walked up the steep hill, along Clifton Vale and Goldney Avenue, and took our seats feeling like we’d earned a good meal. And this restaurant certainly delivered on that score.
A restaurant in Clifton
Yet before entering The Mint Room’s chic, laid-back dining room we caught our breath over cocktails, sitting on one of the red banquettes in the ante-room overlooking the bar.
I didn’t dine alone here. If you enjoy savouring well-blended flavours created with fresh spices and quality ingredients, this restaurant is a good option to visit with close friends — people with whom you don’t mind sharing dishes. That way — surely a far better option than marching up and down the hill several times, to build an appetite — you can be sure of tasting a handful of The Mint Room’s creations.
With wood flooring, a fireplace featuring exposed brickwork, and planking on walls where framed modern artwork and mirrors hang, The Mint Room dispenses with the obvious desi decor favoured by so many of Britain’s Indian restaurants.
Among the best Bristol restaurants
Indian cuisine is served, but this is by no means a curry house for a late-night nosh after a long session on the ale (or cider, given it’s in South West England?).
Should you be inclined to imbibe a pre- or post-meal pint, you can do so nearby at The Lansdown (8 Clifton Road). Cosy in winter, it has a sizable beer garden that looked like a fine place to socialise on summer afternoons. I enjoyed a hand-pulled pint of Proper Job, brewed at Cornwall’s St Austell Brewery.
Modern Indian cuisine
As we nibbled on mini-poppodoms, served on a slate in tiny brass tubs, I noted the refined hubbub of conversation and neat design of the lamps hanging above tables. But those were not things I dwelled upon too long. Noting the rate at which the pots of punchy mango chutney and salsa-like tomato-chilli dip were being emptied, I refocused on enjoying my share of the food.
It’s rare to dine at an Indian restaurant in which the menu lists wine suggestions. A wine consultant advises The Mint Room on which pairings work. “It takes the guesswork out of it,” commented my waiter, smiling, when I asked about it.
That, and the chef’s attention to detail in his presentation of each dish, are among several indicators that The Mint Room has aspirations to be so much more than just another Indian restaurant.
Modern Indian restaurant
The serving staff are attentive and engaging. Importantly, the overall mood of the place is laid-back and positive. It’s a combination that makes enjoying good food easy.
Our starters of desi-style salmon Gravadlax served with Cornish crab, avocado and mango, plus tawa-seared scallops prepared with kaffir lime, green chilli sauce and cucumber looked more like the kind of dishes served in fine-dining establishments than typical Indian restaurants.
We then shared soft-shelled crab prepared with turmeric and served with mango sauce, a dish I last tucked into in Kerala. Oily, this dish had an intensity of flavour that built gradually.
Tasty Indian food
It was good to see Chettinad lamb and seafood moilee being served. South Indian dishes are so often missing from the Mughal-influenced menus of Britain’s Indian restaurants.
We selected the dum biryani, topped with bread that was torn open at our table. The topping ensured the rice, green chilli and chunks of chicken beneath were tender and moist.
Would pairing it with another chicken dish, labardar, be too similar? No, the combination worked well. The sweetness of a Peshwari naan counteracted and complemented the labardar’s spiciness.
Indian dessert to finish
To be honest, it would have been easy to leave The Mint Room more than satisfied after our main course.
But a dessert list that included gulab jamun and carrot halwa served with dark chocolate sorbet proved too tempting. In such circumstances, a little space can be found in stomachs that would normally be designated full.
A valedictory cocktail set us up nicely for our walk back down the hill. Perhaps we could have rolled?
The Mint Room, in every sense, proved top of the hill.
Map of The Mint Room
The map below shows the location of The Mint Room restaurant in the Clifton district of Bristol:
Travel to Bristol
Bristol Temple Meads is the city’s main railway station. It is approximately 90 minutes journey from London’s Paddington station.
Bristol Airport is about nine miles southwest of the city centre.
Hotels in Bristol
Search for accommodation in Bristol via Booking.com:
The Mint Room is at 12-16 Clifton Road, in Bristol’s Clifton district (tel. +44 (0) 117 329 1300). There’s also a branch of The Mint Room at Bath.
Find out more about the attractions of Clifton and the rest of the city on the Visit Bristol website.
Thanks for visiting Go Eat Do and reading this post about The Mint Room Indian restaurant in Bristol, England. If you’re planning a trip to South West England, you may enjoy reading this post about the top things to do and see in Bristol.
Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.
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A version of this post was initially posted on Go Eat Do on 15 January 2017.