We went to the CAMRA Bristol Beer Festival today. There were over 140 real ales on offer, with a good selection of ciders and perries. There was also hot and cold food available. We took some various breads and cheeses with us.
Teresa stuck with the ciders but I sampled some bitters, stouts and porter. I tried two from Brewsters, both spicy porters, but very different – Chocolate Cyn (4.8% ABV) and Stilton Porter (4.9% ABV). Other beers tried included local brewer Dawkins’ Chocadee (4.9% ABV) which is a double chocolate milk stout and Halfpenny Old Lech, a 4.5% ABV well-balanced amber bitter. My favourite though was Bristol Brewers United Bristol Collaboration 2012 (6% ABV). This smoked porter was made specially for the Beer Festival at the RCH Brewery, Hewish by local breweries Arbor Ales, Bath Ales, Bristol Beer Factory, Great Western Brewing, RCH and Zero Degrees. What a rich, complex and delicious mouthful.
We visited the Barley Mow in the Dings afterwards. This is a Bristol Beer Factory pub and, fortuitously the Collaboration came on while we were there! If you like dark, full-bodied beers, you’ll love this and I will be looking out for it in the participating breweries pubs.
We then headed for Za Za Bazaar on Harbourside. Apparently this is Britain’s largest restaurant. We’ve eaten in Cosmo and Flavourz and it’s on similar lines – Buffet style with lots of cuisines to choose from and show cooking. It was busy and hectic but we had a pleasant table near the windows and away from the main thoroughfares.
So what about the food? Well there was certainly a wide choice, but we all were distinctly underwhelmed with what was on offer. I started with the Sushi which was pretty dry and average. At the Chinese section I selected some raw ingredients – chicken, vegetables and noodles and this was stir-fried in front of me in a sauce. This was reasonably tasty, but nothing special.
I then headed for the Indian section that is supposed to be the best and selected a variety of curry-type dishes. There was nothing offensive about any of them, but it was all so bland and boring. Nothing had any distinctive flavour and we were all disappointed. We reached the stage where we couldn’t be bothered to walk round looking for anything more to eat.
The management say they are aiming to deliver “high end buffet cuisine”. On the basis of this visit they have a long way to go and while I don’t think FlavourZ or Cosmo exactly deliver fine dining, in our opinion they are in a higher league than Za Za Bazaar.