365Bristol Lunch Hour: Pho on Clare StreetPosted on: 28 Sep 2018
Lunchtime. It’s our favourite hour of the day. It marks the end of the slow, coffee-induced morning and the beginning of those final hours in the afternoon before we get to leave work. If your workspace is centrally located like ours, it’s good to go for a lunchtime ramble now and again in search of a great spot to sit down and munch until your heart’s content. Dining out for lunch is a good chance to catch up with a friend, loved one or spend the hour alone to treat yourself once in a while! Alternatively, if you’re an employer, the lunch hour is the perfect time to take the employees out for a well-deserved meal as a thank you for all their hard work.
With Bristol being the foodie hotspot that it is, there are so many fantastic restaurants in and around the city centre, so rest assure you’ll never get bored. There are eateries making food from all over the globe- and with so many flavours to be sampled, we have made it our mission to test, try and time as many as we can.
In our new series; Lunch Hour, we spend our own eating in and around the city centre, reviewing the restaurants. In this edition, we visited the popular Vietnamese-style restaurant, Pho.
Pho (pronounced fuh) is a Vietnamese noodle broth with meat, veg, herbs, eggs and more depending on your preference. These hearty bowls of goodness are perfect any time of year, but even more so now that the days are getting increasingly colder.
Pho the restaurant, is located amongst the bustle of Clare Street and St Stephen's Street inside the historical bathstone facade of Clare Street House, and a stone’s throw away from The Harbourside. You’ll spot the neon sign from the window; reminiscent of the bright streets of Vietnam itself. Inside, the atmosphere is casual and inviting, with large wicker light shades decorating the ceiling, creating a lovely warm hue for the interior of the eatery.
On the menu, are a wonderful array of Vietnamese drinks and dishes. I chose a green tea lemonade (£3.50) to drink and my colleague Matt chose the spicy lemonade with ginger and mint (£3.50). The spicy lemonade certainly lived up to its name. With a huge helping of fresh ginger and mint it was mega zingy, and delicious for it. The green tea lemonade was mild and refreshing.
To start, we decided on some vegetable spring rolls with soy sauce (£5.25). They came served on a bed of lettuce which we later found out was for wrapping them in before dipping. Our mistake! Served crispy and hot, they’ve perfected these bad boys down to a T; the kind you can bite a neat mouthful out of, without the contents pulling out with it. The veggies inside were delicious, crunchy and fresh, mixed with just a dash of soy sauce which makes for the perfect accompaniment.
Of course, it would be rude not to order a bowl of pho when dining at a restaurant called Pho, so my colleague Matt and I ordered a bowl of pho. He decided on the Super Green pho; morning glory, green beans, pak choi, fresh lime & Thai basil in veggie broth with garlic (£8.95), and I chose the beef brisket pho (£9.25). (And yes, I realise I’ve said the word pho a lot. And yes, I realise I just said it again.)
The waitress informed us beef is the strongest tasting broth, chicken is the middle ground, and vegetable is very clear and light. The idea of Pho, is that they provide the broth, noodles, meat, veg, and you do the seasoning and add-ons yourself. Our bowls arrived along with a side plate of fresh mint, fresh chili, bean sprouts and a selection of herbs. On the tables, homemade jars of chili paste, garlic vinegar, Sriracha and fish sauce were ready for us to use at our disposal, which is what I love about Asian food; the extras make the dish personal to your taste buds. After a good mix of the pho, I added the extras generously. The broth was certainly strong, and very aromatic with hints of sweetness. I tasted cinnamon and star anise, which the waitress later confirmed as the root of the sweet flavour. The beef brisket was tender and had been slow cooked for over 24hrs. Its open grained texture soaked up all of the juices from the broth, and the whole sha-bang was utterly mouth-watering.
Sweet, spicy and meaty all at once; it was pure comfort in a bowl. The fresh beansprouts (£1) I ordered as an extra, added that little crunch of freshness that I had been craving as well.
Matt’s vegetable pho was described as ‘pure health’… being that it was so naturally nutritious with all that green goodness. Whilst the broth was relatively mild, the taste and texture came from the crunchy veg, and he spiced it up using all of the chili condiments provided.
We were in Pho for about an hour, the service was prompt and the servers extremely attentive, all carrying a warm smile. The restaurant gets a huge thumb up from us, the overall atmosphere combined with the quality of the food could not have been better! We will most definitely be returning for lunch hour again and we encourage everybody to do the same.
Hannah recently graduated with a degree in English with Writing. She is an avid writer, freelancer and creative. She is currently writing her first full-length novel and a collection of poetry. Always out and about in Bristol's music scene, she attends music events on a weekly basis.