It’s taken us a while to get over to Greek restaurant-cum-night-club Opa Bristol on Baldwin Street. Why? Partly because we weren’t sure how kid-friendly the place was, and partly because, being totally honest, small child = skint, and the prices seemed pretty hefty.
So, when they decided to make the last day of the week Funday Sunday, it was a great excuse to check the place out.
On Sundays, kids eat free, while adults can enjoy 50% off their main courses. And with cartoons on the projector screen, balloons, colouring sheets and crayons, games and more, it means parents can enjoy a meal while their little darlings let off some steam.
Of course, it means that if you’re not a parent, you’ll probably want to stay away. But just how family-friendly was it, and was the food any good?
Our first struggle was when we walked in. I’d been told on the phone that the place was buggy-friendly – but as soon as you walk through the front door you’re faced with both stairs down to the club area, and stairs up to the restaurant. We hovered for a little bit, unsure what to do – and one of the Opa staff actually came and helped us to carry Oscar upstairs in his buggy, which was kind. We’d been given a highchair, too, and the same guy let us know where we could leave the buggy to keep it out of the way.
Tap water was poured for us straight away, menus left at the table (including the kids’ menu) and Oscar was given a colouring sheet and some crayons (which he promptly decided to try and eat). He kept himself entertained with a balloon and the kids’ menu instead.
Child entertained, it gave us the chance to have a good look round – and there’s no denying it’s an impressive building, both inside and out. And they’ve got the Greek theme nailed: marble effect pillars, plenty of white (walls, tables, even the highchair) and a ceiling painted to look like a bright blue sky. There’s a mural of Santorini running right round the walls of the restaurant, and Greek-style statues top the whole look off.
Plus, as you’d expect, blue and white table runners and cloth napkins, in case you hadn’t guessed the country yet…
The menu looks enormous…but as soon as you open it, you realise there’s only two to three dishes on each page, with the rest taken up by pictures of Greece. Slightly odd. We decided to stick with just main courses, as we weren’t sure how long the boy would be willing to stay. Generally priced around the £16-£17 mark, the mains at Opa Bristol are at the steeper end of Bristol’s Greek restaurant price range (hence deciding to visit on a 50% off Sunday!) You’ll find plenty of classics on the menu – moussaka, hummus, tzatziki, kleftiko – along with a few more exotic choices too.
I don’t often cook lamb at home, so it’s a meat that Chris orders quite regularly when we’re out. His kleftico (£17.15) slid off the bone, and had been slow-baked in a parcel with onions and carrots, which had a great smoky flavour. The sauce was a little too oily, but the mash was incredible: plenty of butter, an almost whipped consistency, and just enough wholegrain mustard stirred through it to give it a bit of a punch.
I was intrigued by the pastitsada (£16.50) – a traditional Sunday dinner in Corfu. Essentially poussin stewed in a tomato sauce with cinnamon, bay and cloves, the sauce was incredibly thick and rich, the chicken was super-tender, and the warming flavour of the spices was perfect for yet another rainy Sunday. I’m surprised the pasta (which was supposed to be bucatini, but ended up being penne) was stirred through, though – and while it was tasty enough, the portion seemed a little stingy for the price – there wasn’t a huge amount of chicken in there.
Both dishes were also served on enormous plates which really weren’t needed – they took up a huge amount of space on the table, and cooled down pretty quickly too.
Meanwhile, Oscar had that traditional Greek dish…pasta Bolognese. To be fair, it had been “Hellenified” by Opa Bristol with a touch of cinnamon, and was served with (on the side, which was good) a bowl of grated salty Kefalotyri cheese instead of Parmesan. Definitely a generous portion – we’d just have liked the pasta cooked a little longer as al dente + very few teeth didn’t really work.
Our food was tasty enough, but I’m honestly not sure we’d have been happy paying full price for it. Have a look at their website, though, and you’ll see a lunch deal of five meze for £15, which seems like much better value for money.
It’s almost as if Opa Bristol isn’t entirely sure how it wants to position itself. The food was tasty enough, but it’s not cheap – we got a bit of a style over substance vibe from the place. If you’ve got kids, though, choose Sunday to give the place a try: they’ll get a free meal (and some entertainment), you’ll get 50% off, and you’ll get to see the unusual sight of Peppa Pig reruns being shown on a nightclub projector screen.