Goodbye Dynasty: Eulogy to a restaurant

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The wonderful restaurant Dynasty is soon to be closed for an indefinite time period

This Sunday, 24 September 2017, my favourite restaurant will close after two decades of business. Dynasty, situated on St Thomas Street in Redcliffe, will stop serving its delicious menu of dim sum and duck, and the building will be sold to developers. It was said to be one of the best Chinese restaurants in the UK by Wagamama owner Alan Yau.

In its place will rise Bristol’s newest development: Redcliffe Quarter, in which Dynasty will potentially be granted a unit on completion in 2019.

However, the future of the restaurant is unconfirmed. Negotiations are in progress for new premises and Dynasty may indeed return.

Reflecting on the departure of the restaurant has brought back many memories, stretching back as far as I can recall. I remember visiting in almost every situation: a touching family reunion, a celebratory dinner and just an informal lunch on a hot spring day.

I followed a standard pattern when eating there, starting with a mixed plate of seaweed, prawn toast and other similar delights. Sometimes, if feeling more creative, I would supplement these with dim sum (a delicacy which could be enjoyed on its own for a smaller meal). After this, I would eat crispy duck with pancakes, the highlight of the meal. By this time my hunger was usually satisfied, but I often opted for a dish of crispy beef or sweet and sour pork to finish off.

Dynasty was such a unique restaurant for many reasons. Situated off the beaten track, I was always surprised to find someone else who knew of its crispy duck and mixed platter. During my younger years, I was often asked what my favourite restaurant was. Others would reply simply with “Bella Italia” or “GBK” but I always found myself wistfully reflecting on this wonderful restaurant. The restaurant’s appearance always seemed somewhat out of place to me. From a distance, the building looked grey and dull yet coming closer you noticed the ornate entranceway and the subtle details in the second-floor windows.

Next door was a Chinese supermarket and I spent many entertaining post-dinner trips within it, looking for ingredients to spice up my own home cooking.

Dynasty was run by the Hong Kong-based Ho family and every time I visited it felt as if I had stepped into the welcoming home of a friend.

In the place of Dynasty, and indeed the entire 3.3 acres of currently derelict land between St Thomas Street and Redcliffe Street, will be “Redcliffe Quarter”. This 600,000 sq ft mixed-use urban village will create a “vibrant identity” for the area and include 15,000 sq ft of offices and 317 new homes. The central tower of the development will be 22 storeys tall, reflecting Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees’ desire to see a growth in Bristol’s skyline.

The development promises “Bristol’s first European-style food hall and market” and “fine dining” within a rooftop restaurant.

As wonderful as it will be to have this derelict land redeveloped, I think that Dynasty will lose some of its charm nestled among the busy Radisson Red hotel and artisan butchers. The restaurant has always provided a tranquil oasis; close to the city centre, yet protected and calm. It will be sad to lose this, but, as long as the food is of the same incredible quality, I would be more than happy to see it move into a new location.

In fact, Dynasty may benefit from a change of location, allowing it to attract new customers so that more people can experience the excellent food on offer.

It seems fitting, albeit clichéd, to finish this eulogy with a short Chinese proverb: “Sometimes to be reborn, you first must die”. Dynasty has died, for now, yet what it turns into may be something even more wonderful.