When the Wessex Scene was invited to a culinary preview of the Bridge Bar’s new menu, we did not know if the union team would manage to restore life to a space long declining in popularity. However, with some big ideas and £400,000, the bar has been completely transformed. New booths and seating areas make the venue a perfect lounging area, while swanky lighting, blinds and a sleek bar add to the sophisticated feel.
The menu does not disappoint either; the choice may be a little more up-market but the prices continue to reflect the student budget rather than the quality of what’s on offer. Student staples have been spruced up into legitimate dining material. The reliable chip butty comes as a make-your-own job and the traditional kebab has been revolutionised, served open in layers of tender meat, sauce and pitta bread.
Investment in the kitchen has been essential in the revamp. Better equipment, refrigerated storage spaces and a brand new coffee machine will help to deliver high quality food and drink around the clock. A new hatch has also been installed so as to provide sustenance for those craving snacks after a Friday night at the union.
The team behind the relaunch wanted to achieve class and value: our experience suggests they will deliver. We tried tempura prawns, fishcakes and duck terrine, all of which were priced at £3.50 or less, before trying the Bridge salad, the Sizzling Platter (likely to be a firm favourite with the more carnivorous students) and the more exotic Chicken Espanol. All main meals come with a choice of potatoes or chips and vegetables or salad. The taster was concluded by a lemon layer cake, priced at a tantalisingly good £2.50.
The refurbishment has gone beyond aesthetics to encompass further union projects too. Student kitchen staff have been trained by the chef to create the made-to-order meals and leftover ingredients will be no more as staff hope to design meals such as soup of the day around the produce already used and stocked.
SUSU President Sam Ling is excited by the prospect of the changed venue. He said:
“In general, the union is perceived as an undergraduate entity. We were influenced by international students, the postgraduate community and spaces in other unions when we came up with the new design. Our primary goal was to create a space which resonates with a more mature outlook. We have absolutely achieved that.”
The proof will be in the pudding but it appears that the new Bridge could have success in line with that achieved by SUSU’s nightlife relaunch. In the past student media has been strong in its criticism of the union’s activities; it’s only fair that we’re equally as vocal in our positive feedback when we see a job well done.
Students should be able to sample the new menu from lunch time on September 19.