Wilsons: Simple can be very good

There is a thriving dining scene in Bristol into which Wilsons must come fairly high up as places to visit. Its chef has admirable pedigree, having previously worked at The Clove Club and L’Enclume. However, the charm about Wilsons is its simplicity. What the husband and wife team have done is taken an old Victorian shop on a residential street in the Redland area of town and turned it into a small restaurant seating around 20 covers. The white walls contain little other than the blackboards highlighting the dishes and wines available, while the floor is just panelled wood, matching the tables. Beyond the stained glass in the window and some dried flowers, there is little ornamentation. This doesn’t matter though. When my comrade and I visited on a recent Saturday night, the place was packed and the vibe intimate. Diners are drawn by the food. Take a look at the website and few clues are available, other than an emphasis on local and seasonal produce. The menu apparently changes every week or so and the range available on any given occasion might comprise just two or three of both starters and mains: blink and you may miss it. This, of course, is half the fun. There is almost the tacit suggestion that if you like what you see, you will need to return -  to sample what the team might conjure up next. Based on our meal, we certainly would. My starter comprised an artistic assembly on native lobster with tomato and cod’s roe. The flavours were delicate yet harmonious, with clear evidence of attention paid to composition. If this was good, then the wood pigeon with fig and beetroot main was arguably even better. The contrast between courses worked superbly – from delicate to bold. The pigeon-beetroot combination was profound and earthy, the tastes lingering long after. The wine list also spoke of intelligence in its assembly, with a large emphasis on organic wines. Our red from Portugal impressed particularly. Booking is advisable.