Late licence at last Inspired use of ingredients
It has taken Ghullam Narimani a staggering 23 years to persuade Bristol City Council to let him open his café until 9pm in order for him to turn it into a bistro in the evening.
Since buying it in 1989, the Iranian businessman's café has changed its name and identity more times than Lord Lucan. Café Premiere and Rucola are two that spring to mind, as well as Bacchus – which is the name that still appears at the top of the till receipts.
Open all day, the newly renamed Café 59 has always been a popular spot for breakfast, brunch and lunch. The signature Blackstone eggs breakfast (poached eggs, English muffin, bacon, tomato and hash browns) is the stuff of local legend and has soaked up many student hangovers over the years.
The lunch menu is now served from noon until 9pm and it is extensive and sensibly priced, with many main courses under £9.
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We were drawn to the weekly meal deal special, which at £12.95 for two courses (including a glass of wine or beer) sounded too good to ignore.
We weren't ordering starters, but there was still plenty of choice with four main courses and four desserts to pick from.
We went for the pan-fried fillet of salmon, leek, spinach with new potatoes and caper dill butter, and the duck leg confit with braised red cabbage, creamy mash and wild berry jus.
The salmon was nicely cooked and simply presented on a bed of leafy spinach with a few slices of softened leeks and new potatoes to the side.
The duck leg was enormous and the tender meat fell off the bone, although the skin was soft and flabby rather than crisp. The lumpy, dry mash was reminiscent of my school dinners circa 1979 but the rich red cabbage and dark berry sauce rescued the dish.
To finish, we both went for the baked almond and date tart, which was warm, light and tasted homemade. The accompanying nutty tahini ice cream was an inspired use of a savoury ingredient.
Although, Café 59 has a relaxed café feel in the evening, the bright lime green walls don't work at night and the hard wooden floor doesn't help to soften the acoustics.