Time to head north, steak fans
Once simply a haven of excellent cafés and fish-and-chippers, Thornbury is suddenly a destination suburb for eats. You’ve got Trumpy’s bar bringing the cocktail fun, new Thai local Som Tam delivering great som tum, and now, Northern Git: a kind-of English bar and eatery by Michael Slade, the ex-head chef of meaty La Luna Bistro (and a bona fide northern English git).
It actually looks like a fish and chip shop from the 86 tram stop, with its awning ringed in lights. From the name, it sounds like one too. But what Slade is offering up here is a world of sophisticated small plates, offal and steak.
Slade’s meaty foundations stand him in good stead. On our visit he’s frying off sweetbreads and chicken livers with sweet vermouth. The soft thymus glands are all soft, sticky and nutty, and the livers add silky, meaty richness. He makes a warm salad of them with hazelnuts, lightly pickled onions and mache leaves and serves the lot on a thin layer of polenta to soak up the sweet juices. It’s a beautiful dish.
They're pulling no punches on the fat front. The pork crackling snack is a bowl of pure roast off cuts – no airy, dehydrated crisps. Eggplant wedges, on the other hand, are a perfect yin-yang balance of soft, creamy flesh and crunchy polenta shell, served with a sharp tomato relish.
It's a best of the bar snacks, and speaking of, Northern Git is equally as well geared for boozing. On the beer front, it’s all crafty English ales and local heroes. They’ve just started 'firkin Fridays', where they tap an un-carbonated 3 Ravens cask which is served at room temperature, medieval feast-styles. You might also bookend your night with hard booze. A Martini washed with peaty whisky is a surprising success and a nip of the 12-year-old Aberfeldy whisky from Speyside is the nightcap your steak demands.
They’re pretty good at convincing you to eat and drink things here. We manage to resist the 800 gram rib eye, and go for the smaller scotch fillet instead, sliced into pink, juicy medallions with a caramelised crust. Slade is dry ageing all his steaks in house for 40 days, and he lets the quality do the talking, pairing his meat simply with sticky pan juices and buttery, garlicky wilted spinach.
It’s not all about chewing on animals. We’d come back just as quickly for the delicate gnocchi tossed in the pan with weedy shreds of kale and sorrel, countered by hazelnuts and sharp curls of pecorino.
The only drawback is the room, which is a bit on the boxy side and has the potential to feel a little vast in spite of the bar running down one side, dangling bulbs and giant greyscale mural of an industrial site. But that’s a minor quibble when there’s such rampant enthusiasm, a full Sunday roast with Yorkshire pud, and dense gingerbread puddings in sticky toffee sauce to consider. Good times guaranteed. Innit.