I think I’ve mentioned before that moving from Essex to Bristol has been something of a culture shock for me. Exacerbated, I’m sure by my decision to move to the Montpelier area of the city. The difference between the often brash, trendily coiffured, moneyed, tanned and tattooed citizens of Leigh-on-Sea, Essex and the mung bean munching, dreadlock sprouting, new age eco-warriors of Montpelier, Bristol…well, its a yawning chasm basically. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve struggled. But slowly, bit by bit I’ve started to feel more relaxed and at home.
Not so much that I’ve taken to wearing yoga pants and hemp jumpers, but enough so that a few weeks back, ‘E’ and I decided to visit the neighbouring district of St Werburghs city farm café for lunch.
You could describe St Werburghs as ‘crusty eco warrior central’. If you canvassed the residents of my old Essex hometown of Leigh-on-Sea for professions, you’d get an equal mix of hair stylists, estate agents and ‘something’s in the city’. In St Werburghs, I suspect you’d get ‘Hypnotherapists’, Yoga Instructors and Circus Acrobats…. lets put it this way, when a major festival is on somewhere in the country, the whole area becomes a ghost town.
Why are all the new age lentil eaters congregating here you may ask? Well, cutting through a whole swathe of this area of the city is a valley filled with a vast patchwork of allotments. A good few square miles of plots. It’s the dream of the good life that brings them.
Slap bang in the middle of this is St Werburghs city farm, which would be well worth a visit on its own, especially if you’re as unfamiliar and amused by the antics of farm animals as I am. But, they also have an excellent café, the produce for which is almost exclusively provided for by the farm and surrounding allotments. Yes, that’s right – the cute pig you were giggling at, could be in the cooking pot next week. Oink away Mr Pig, …soon you’ll be where you belong…. in my belly.
(Errrr…don’t think I should take any of my numerous nieces and nephews there lest I traumatise them).
The café itself is unusual, as in there is an almost organic, Daliesque feel to the interior with the strange wood carved supporting beams and curved bench seating, I found it quite charming, almost like sitting in a tree house.
Taking a seat and studying the chalked menu, my first thought was ‘wow it’s cheap’ my second thought was ‘Pork’ as I clocked the rillettes on rye toast.
In fact, the whole menu read well, with a list of dishes I could happily eat.
With that in mind, ‘E’ and I made an executive decision and decided to order a bit of a selection to share.
First up, the aforementioned pork rillettes, made from pork raised on the city farm and served with rye toast, gherkins and home made chutney.
‘E’ couldn’t share this, her pescetarian tendencies once again proving a roadblock to the good stuff. Which was a bit of a shame, as the portion was frigging huge; I could have done with the help. Apart from being a bit under seasoned perhaps, the rillettes was lovely tender and moist, the accompanying homemade chutney was delicious and at £4-50 the whole thing was a bit of a bargain. Especially considering the provenance of the meat and other ingredients.
Meanwhile, ‘E’ was tucking into the other two plates of food we’d ordered. A generously heaped plate containing a ‘Grilled halloumi and red quinoa salad with roasted peppers, sun dried tomatoes and toasted seeds’. It was delicious (I have a real soft spot for grilled halloumi) again, well priced at £5.95
I helped to demolish this, whilst diverting my attention to the other main we’d ordered (multi-tasking) which the menu described as ‘first of the season St Werburghs pumpkin and Welsh goats cheese risotto topped with toasted seeds and mixed leaves’.
Another bloody huge portion of food, ticking all the right risotto boxes – creamy and unctuous with a nice pumpkin and goats cheese flavouring. It was ok. Not stunning, but adequate and considering the size of the portion, priced at £6.50; good value once again.
All of this, our whole lunch experience up to this point, everything good, bad and indifferent faded away into insignificance when we took our first forkful of a shared dessert. All sins were forgiven; it was off the frigging chart amazing. All I can say is the chef knows how to bake. This manna from heaven, this nectar this slice of heaven on a plate was a rhubarb and ginger Bakewell so light, so moist, so perfectly poised between sweet and sour with the crispest most beautifully made pastry. It was so good. If a solitary tear of joy had rolled down my face at this point, I’d have worn it as a badge of honour.
I loved St Werburghs city farm café. Yes you’re surrounded by dolphin hugging tree humpers, but the bargain prices, the freshness and seasonality of the menu with produce reared and grown pretty much on the doorstep and the fact that it just has a really nice relaxed vibe about the place means that I’m really looking forward to going back and eating there again…. man.
St Werburghs City Farm Café