Racks may appear to be the perfect place for a posh Cliftonite to hang out, but don’t be fooled, inside is a quality yet affordable, cosmopolitan bar and restaurant.
Located in Clifton between Clifton High Street and Whiteladies Road, Racks is tucked away from two of the main streets in Bristol’s centre. The establishment looks a little shabby from the outside and has a big dated looking sign outside. Their small outside seating area is perfect for al fresco dining in warmer weather or for those who prefer to be able to sit and smoke.
Inside, the restaurant opens out into several large rooms including a luxurious bar area. Several comfy sofas are dotted about, perfect for chilling out and reading one of the many daily newspapers provided.
From the bar you move through a maze of rooms to the dining area. The decor is warm and the cream walls and the adbundance of twinkling tea lights create a relaxed ambience. Three huge TV screens jut out from the walls and show all major sporting events.
It's best to check there's not a big game coming up if you're not interested in watching football or rugby as there's no getting away from it and it will completely ruin the dining experience.
Racks is slightly let down by its service. Staff are helpful, but the service is slow and you have to ask several times for more drinks etc. And if you're in a large party prepare for a chorus of rumbling stomachs as the food takes a while to come out.
The menu is simple but well thought out. There are no starters, as such, but you can nibble your way through some olives while you wait, and wait, and wait for your main course. Mains are simple and tasty. Good quality burger and chips (£8.95), rack of lamb, salmon fishcakes and a perfectly creamy risotto top the menu (£7.50).
Great quality, fresh ingredients are simply cooked and prepared. It's not going to win awards but it's nice. Desserts are available and include a wide range of the renowned Marshfield ice cream in a variety of flavours as well as sticky toffee pudding (£5.50) and cheesecakes. Again, these are perfectly adequate but nothing special. A range of coffees is also available to end your meal.
Racks also offers a lunchtime menu, with a range of sandwiches and jacket potatoes, as well as a great Sunday lunch (choice of beef or lamb) with the all trimmings for £7.95 per person. The Sunday lunch is recommended and the venue is a relaxed place to eat before sitting back, clutching your stomach and getting ready to while away the afternoon over a few beers.
The bar is well stocked, with several types of larger and ale on tap, a wide selection of New World red and white wines to suit all tastes and budgets, and a good selection of soft drinks and bottled juices.
The Last Word
If you find yourself in Clifton and fancy a relaxed dining experience, you could do a lot worse than to visit Racks for dinner. It’s a little pricey – but then you are in Clifton. Popping in for Sunday lunch is by far your best bet for quality and value for money.