Review: The Plumed Serpent, Bristol

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I really have to learn to speed up my reviews. Probably a month ago now, we had dinner at The Plumed Serpent Cantina during their pop up at Matilda's Chilli Bar just near the Bear Pit in Bristol. It was excellent. Don't go and book a table – the pop up is finished (missed that boat didn't I?). However, do not fear – they are in residency at the Hillgrove pub just up from Stokes Croft for at least another 3 weeks... yippee!

tortillas with black beans and feta in bristols plumed serpent

The reason for our trip out was that our mate Ali was down for the weekend from Nottingham (incidentally, she's the editor for LeftLion a wicked culture mag there) so we needed to go somewhere special. All three of us loved it so this'll be a pretty short and sweet review. We ate some excellent Mexican food from a simple, delicious menu and loved every single morsel.

The simplicity of The Plumed Serpent spoke volumes to me, from printed paper menus (with items sold out scribbled through in pen) through to paper napkins, tins of cutlery and jars of home made salsa. The focus was very firmly on the food without a hint of style over substance.

home made mexican salsa
Black bean and feta tortillas and home made salsas

The menu was small – with a few starters / sharers / sides to choose from and then a simple torta & taco section for mains. With a jug of something tequila fuelled and fruity to hand we began with chipotle & lime chicken wings and half and half tortilla chips with black bean & feta and guacamole - because we just couldn't decide.

The black bean with feta was a revelation, a great dip for tortillas and completely delicious. The guacamole was very heavy on the garlic (no problems with that here) and smooth in consistency, which made a nice change to the chunky way I tend to make it at home.

Tucking into all the tacos at the plumed serpent cantina in bristol

For our mains, we ordered three of the tacos—served in threes—meaning we could have one of each, each. We chose beef brisket with cheddar, chicken pibil with pink picked onions and deep fried fish with chipotle slaw

Wow they were good. Soft, hand sized tacos each stuffed with their own distinct flavours. If I had to choose, I'd say that the fish was my favourite, but then, those pink pickled onions... and the beef brisket with cheddar and all those spicy fresh jalapeƱos? Nope, I can't call it. 

Chicken pibil with radish and pink pickled onions
Beef brisket taco with cheddar and green jalapeƱos

At the end of our meal we chatted to one of the owners Ed. I'd read a little about their backstory and was pleased to meet him and find out more. The Plumed Serpent is the perfect example of a pop up. Started by a couple who just love cooking and in this case, love Mexican food too. Until recently they were both working full time in the medical profession but Ed told us that he's now quit his job to work on the food business full-time.

Bill at The Plumed Serpent Cantina

My advice? 

1) Support these guys in their mission by helping spread the word – give them a follow on twitter and instagram

2) Get yourself up to The Hillgrove ASAP to sample what these guys have on offer.  Their kitchen is open from 7pm Tuesday to Saturday until mid August. It won't break the bank and you'll be well impressed by the food. You don't want to miss it, although I have a feeling we've not heard the last of them. 

*The Plumed Serpent Cantina did not know I was planning to review. We paid for our food and all opinions are my own*

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