Riverside dining: New Moon on the Quay

The team behind a popular Clifton restaurant have taken on a quirky (read: tricky) space on the harbourside, and turned it into a restaurant with plenty of colour – in more ways than one

Having eclectic tastes is a blessing and a curse. Variety is the spice of life, sure, but ever tried putting your cross-genre music collection on shuffle? There’s no stress quite like it. Eclecticism is a core characteristic of Clifton restaurant New Moon and its more recently launched incarnation on Hannover Quay. Here, it’s a blessing.

Small plates are the order of the day, and are bountiful in both supply and influences – we’re talking 20-odd dishes on the main menu, with Southeast Asian, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Italian and Russian roots. And that’s before you even flip it over, for the six-dish-strong themed menu on the back, where lesser locally seen cuisines like South African, Uzbek, and Albanian are showcased, the hero country changing with each new moon.

Chilled aubergine rolls stuffed with goat’s cheese and basil mousse (£7) are a bit of a signature dish here. Although the cooled aubergine doesn’t feel particularly inviting to pick up with my fingers (cutlery is provided – I was hungry, and it slows me down), the flavours are fresh and layered up nicely, the tang of the goat’s cheese echoed in the basil and lifted with sundried tomato and walnut.

Charred octopus (£9) sees the flesh coated with a sweet balsamic glaze and joined by flavours of walnut and olive. (The tender, well-cooked meat isn’t as mild or fresh-tasting as expected, though, with a rather robust seafoody flavour.) Better are the fat king prawns (£8.90), which come shelled, sautéed and slathered in a smooth and creamy Pernod and red pesto sauce.

Lamb cutlets (£8.90), again with a balsamic glaze (many common threads run throughout these varied dishes, basil and balsamic being two) are delicious, as is the mound of minted spinach heaped underneath them. Usually put off this rich leaf by the soggy texture it yields to when cooked, I despatch spoonfuls of the stuff onto my plate after a tentative mouthful, employing it as mint sauce.

Perhaps our favourite dishes of this meal come from the reverse side of the menu, which is dedicated – at the time of writing – to the food of the Philippines, a cuisine that has evolved to incorporate countless cultures over the centuries, thanks to the neighbours, trade and history of colonization of this sprawling cluster of islands (2,000 of which are inhabited).

Vegetable okoy (£6.40) are fritters made up of shredded sweet potato, squash, pepper and onion, formed into loose patties and deep-fried until crisp, golden and promising buckets of crunch and texture. We use them to scrape up the tangy and fiery chilli vinaigrette that’s swiped on the slate in front of them.

Tamarind is a favourite ingredient in the Philippines, often used in soup and – as here – stews. This warming bowl of braised pork with mushroom, aubergine and bok choy is nicely spiced, the slow-cooked meat tender with butter-soft fat, and the liquor moreish. A hearty bowl of goodness for winter.

While globally adventurous, the varied dishes do somehow maintain a kind of comforting familiarity, unconcerned with new-fangled cooking techniques or current trends (I mean, much of our food is served on slates, for instance). If you really can’t decide what to order from the almost overwhelming list, the ‘testing selection’ for two puts the decision making in the hands of the chef, who will send out five or six of their current favourite dishes for a set price. That’s what we roll with, and we get a good spread, but having re-read the menu since I’ll want to pick for myself next time, I think. (I’ll always be a defiant, contradictory teenager at heart.)

Kiosk 3 – as the quirky little building on the harbourside is known officially – never looked very inviting in any of its former guises, but now almost beckons you in with the warm glowing light you can see on approach. Inside is a cosy, bohemian-style space where plants fill the floor space and hang overhead, with strings of tiny lights woven throughout their leaves and fronds. Wicker furniture and animal print give an exotic vibe that’s contrasted with more plush touches of red velvet and light shades.

New Moon’s eclectic tendency goes much further than the food, then – and this cosy little hideaway with interesting menus is all the better for it.

New Moon On The Quay, Kiosk 3, Hannover Quay, Bristol BS1 5JE; 0117 927 9689