Down by the canalside

We find old and new combining at the King’s Arms in Knowle.

Ideally situated canalside on the outskirts of Knowle, the Kings Arms has recently benefited from a substantial and elegant refurbishment. Arriving there on a cold, dark winter evening, we were warmly welcomed by the new team. They were keen to show us the changes that had been made, from a feature open fire to cozy scallop-back sofas in the dining areas. This makes for an intimate setting, with the infectious buzz of the room creating an atmosphere for enjoyment while not being intrusive.

From the new menu, we chose starters of tomato and basil soup and scallops. The soup came with a generous scattering of pine nuts and such dense flavour that it tasted of Tuscany. The scallops were plump and juicy, and accompanied by smoked haddock Florentine bonbons and a smooth celeriac puree

For mains, we chose pork belly and the signature burger. The pork was succulent, with sweet scallops, a delicious bordelaise sauce, red pepper puree and a crisp piece of crackling. This last was reluctantly shared, after covetous eyes from my dining companion became too difficult to ignore.

If you like your burgers dirty, this is the place. This burger was streetwise, swaggering and stuffed with all kinds of flavours, from the perfectly-cooked meat to an overflowing (if that’s the correct term) of melted cheese, with beef dripping sauce to add extra piquancy. My companion’s one reservation was that there was a bit too much salt involved, although he did concede that he uses none when cooking for himself and the contrast was therefore particularly marked.

With a deep breath, we moved to squeeze in desserts. Plum and apple crumble with ice cream was well suited to the fireside autumnal night, while a classic sicky toffee pudding was everything promised and more. There are occasions when the old ones really are the best.

There’s a carefully edited wine list and a choice of cocktails to accompany your meal. The cocktails balance old favourites with some new discoveries to savour.

Around us, we watched the new team work smoothly in the packed restaurant, gliding seamlessly and effortlessly through the warm and friendly service. If you have dietary allergies or food intolerances, you can eat safely here, with evidence of good care being taken in the kitchen. Adaptations to dishes were also happily and thoughtfully made during a busy night.

We took the opportunity to look at the renovations to the rooms on site. The classic, calm and considered decor complements the changes downstairs.

Our meal was gifted by the Kings Arms. Opinions are, as always, our own.