A week or so ago my wife and I celebrated our 20th anniversary, and we did so twice, as it happens. We'd planned to go to Gracie's on the actual date (Wed), then had to change to Saturday, then discovered we WERE free on Wed and arranged to go to the Hourglass in Bristol with a couple of friends. We're fond of Persimmon, and our friends are frequent customers there, but my wife had seen and been intrigued by the Hourglass Brasserie, so we went there. And then on Saturday we went to Gracie's.
Both meals were quite good, but if I had it to do over, I'd go to the Hourglass twice and skip Gracie's.
At the Hourglass, the service was superb, the ambiance was great, and the food was...well, let's just say that I kept jotting down things that I wanted to try at home, like a very thin cucumber soup that was drizzled around a salad dish, and a slightly sour tomato soup with a crabcake in the middle that was made in heaven, with both lime and lime-zest incorporated in the crabcake, and almost no flour. Oh, and a lentil polenta, which was made with a blend of lentils and polenta to get the texture of fried polenta, but the richer flavor of the lentils. Then there were the things that I couldn't even hope to replicate, like the lamb rump sous-vide, and a mushroom risotto. We brought a half-bottle of Sauternes to share (I'd checked in advance; there was a $10 corkage fee), which went really well with the desserts -- baked alaska, and wine-poached pears. The whole thing was during restaurant week, which meant that a couple of the dishes weren't on the ordinary menu (alas!), but at three courses for $30, it was a terrific deal.
At Gracie's we went with the 5-course tasting menu. It was good, but there was nothing exceptional, nothing where I said "I HAVE to figure out how to do something like this myself!" The restaurant was packed, and the staff were a bit rushed, although our server was amazingly well-informed about wine and willing to take the time to talk with us a bit about it. The TV was on over the bar, and the noise level in the place was so high that it was hard for us to hear each other speak. I suppose that in the end we spent about 2-3x what we spent at the Hourglass, and enjoyed it less.
I'm a big fan of Gracie's in general, but perhaps mid-week is the time to go.
As for Bristol restaurants, I like Persimmon, but it's pretty crowded. It's got a somewhat broader menu than the Hourglass, but I still think that the next time I head south, I'll go to the Hourglass instead. I recommend that you do so as well.