Creating a restaurant in a shipping container appears to be a fashionable trend. We are joining the party by heading to Box E on Bristol harbourside to meet our good friend Thorkell for dinner. Box -E has Elliott, a former head chef at the Michelin starred L’Ortolan, in the kitchen. I say kitchen, Elliott cooks in one corner of the box, only feet from the diners. His partner, Tess, leads a small front of house team. This tiny restaurant, with only 14 seats, has had some rave reviews recently. It really is time to see if eating while encased in a metal box is a good idea.
All the beers here are local and Thorkell has a Hop Hand Fallacy – a citrusy farmhouse ale from the Bristol brewers Lost and Grounded. I have a PMA from the Moor Beer Company, also based in Bristol, which is one of the best pale ales I’ve tasted recently.
I start with the crisp hispi cabbage with crab and lemon butter. It is delicate and very enjoyable. Thorkell bravely tries the salt baked & pickled turnip with truffle and powdered cep. I say bravely, because I’m not a big fan of turnips or truffle, but he loves it. Rock decides not to have a starter – after enjoying quite a lot of the home-made bread we were given once we had taken our seats!
Rock and I both have the hake with curried lentils and cauliflower. The hake is perfectly cooked and surrounded by intense curry flavours that manage to enhance the hake without overpowering it. Thorkell has the breast and confit leg of duck with spelt and rainbow chard. The duck breast is suitably pink and it soon becomes clear that Thorkell is enjoying his food as much as we are.
Rock is more than ready for dessert and has the chocolate mousse with salt caramel and peanuts. The mousse is rich and intense, sweetened by the caramel, and with crushed peanuts providing crunch. Thorkell has the vanilla pannacotta with caramelised figs. Unlike truffle and turnip, these are two of my favourite things and Rock is amazed when I don’t choose this as my dessert. Thorkell loves it as much as I would have if I did not have an unstoppable desire for cheese…
Sheep’s Tor and Cornish Gouda are served with a sweet and zingy quince jelly plus the most extraordinary celery salt crackers. Both are semi-hard cheeses, contrasting in flavour but each one is very good. The crackers were clearly home-made and the best biscuits for cheese I have ever tasted….and I’ve tasted a few.
Dinner in this shipping container was a great experience. It has been fantastic to catch up with Thorkell. The dishes here are combinations of interesting ingredients and they are very well executed. Every dish is cooked to order, the beer is very good and the service is excellent – it really is a box of delights!