Casamia has been on my radar since brothers Peter and Jonray Sánchez-Iglesias won Gordon Ramsay’s Best Restaurant competition on Channel 4 in 2010. Their style of applying molecular gastronomy techniques to their Italian food heritage drew huge plaudits and it was nice to see their tight-knit family enjoy the success – their proud parents bought the restaurant for the boys and helped out in its day to day running. Peter has also since appeared on Great British Menu on BBC2 in 2013, getting through to the national finals.
The opportunity to visit Casamia came up last year as Emma and I were off on a trip to the Forest of Dean and we popped in for lunch on the way. Booking is of course essential at this Michelin starred establishment, but I had no trouble getting a reservation a couple of months ahead.
Casamia is located in the village of Westbury-on-Trym on the outskirts of Bristol. We parked in the main village car park and the restaurant is a few minutes walk away. The iron gate entrance is quite subtle and we almost walked past it.
The menu is seasonal and we had the spring tasting menu. We liked their stack of cutlery and Emma loved the fact I got my cutlery usage wrong and ended up 1 spoon short but this was easily rectified by the waiting staff!
There were no canapés, so the meal kicked off with the first course on the menu – Rag stone cheese, beetroot jam & powder tart. A beautifully presented tart with the cheese cleverly hidden to deliver the yummy savoury foil to the sweet beetroot.
The next dish of asparagus, vanilla & sesame oil sounded quite experimental and I can just picture Masterchef judge John Torode’s face in a painful grimace if he read that description – he is not one for novel flavour combinations. However, the vanilla was restrained into a background note here and the sesame brought out the nuttiness in the asparagus. Even John Torode may have had to admit he liked it!
‘Breakfast egg’ consisted of homemade ketchup, black pudding, scrambled egg foam, fried bread croutons and a bacon soldier. It was a marvel of packing in the flavours of a cooked breakfast into an eggshell mini bowl. Very clever.
The next course was finished at the table by one the chefs, Sam. This is a very trendy thing at the moment, getting chefs out of the kitchen into the dining room to interact with diners. The presentation of this dish was a visual masterpiece and the colourful salad leaves were nicely complemented with a sharp ewe’s curd.
The last 3 courses were desserts and perhaps the only small disappointment. Individually, they were all lovely but they were all too similar in concept. Perhaps, it would have been better to have one hot dessert or some other variation. The first dessert was carrot sponge, toffee sauce and dehydrated carrot, finished with thyme ice cream at the table.
Next was tarragon mousse, fresh passion fruit and tarragon meringue.
To finish the meal, there was stewed rhubarb, rhubarb sorbet, rhubarb crisp, fromage frais and a sugar tuile with ginger & juniper.
Food: ★★★★★ Service: ★★★★★ Ambiance: ★★★★★ VFM: ★★★★★ Overall: ★★★★★
Price: A special occasion treat but well worth the money
In doing my research for this blog posting, I read that chef Jonray Sánchez-Iglesias sadly passed away in Nov 2015 from skin cancer at the age of 32. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family.
38 High Street, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol BS9 3DZ