Tuesday, 14 September 2010

St Werburghs City Farm Café - Bristol

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

Watercress Rd,



The Shed said...

You're not actually a man of leisure, are you Dan? You're on the payroll of Bristol's tourist board for sure!
Looks lovely, and what a bargain too.

Gourmet Butcher said...

Hey! This looks like a really good place to check out! The bakewell looks soooooo yummy!

Dan said...

The Shed - Indeed, I should be employed by Bristol's tourist board immediately. I'll have my people fax their people.

Gourmet Butcher - Indeed, the Bakewell was cracking. Dare I say, one of the best slices of cake I've eaten anywhere.

Anonymous said...

You had me at halloumi :)

Still not ventured up there (I think I'm still in the London-ish "but it's miles away!" mode...). And yes. Bit different to Leigh :)

Food Urchin said...

Dan, just grow the hair and the tree hugging sandal wearing rest will follow, you've got the beard already.

But it does all look rather lush, in a good life kinda way.

hannah said...

My mouth is watering must looking at that dessert. It sounds like a fantastic little place to eat, i can't believe how cheap it is. Now i want to move to Bristol!

Dan said...

Bristolbites - Hahaha indeed, got to love the halloumi. Its def worth a visit on a sunny day, it's actually extremely peaceful.

Food Urchin - Mate, it's true. I have the beard, I'll be wandering around wrapped in a pair of curtains with an eyeball tattooed on my palm before the year is out.

Jonathan said...

Give in to the hippies... start bathing in lentils and only sleep during the lunar cycles.

Love the idea of this place and will be making a bee line for it when I next visit Brizzle. If only for the puddings.

Unknown said...

Wow that is a massive serving of rillettes - the hippy thing may not be so bad after all!

PDH said...

Dan you need to release the inner Essex child every now and again... When the Crusties get too much just take your motor down your local shopping centre and do some donuts till you feel normal again!

Those Rillettes look amazing and for £4 I'm pretty jealous!

Graphic Foodie said...

Ha ha ha... dolphin hugging tree humpers. Good stuff!

Dan said...

Jonathan - It wont be long before I give into the hippies living round here mate. Right now, it's an enclave...for how long I wonder.

Gourmet Chick - It was a ridiculous sized serving - all of the portions were massive. Big thumbs up!

Pavel - Yes indeed....although it's dougnuts I crave, but pie and mash. £4 - bargainous!

Graphic Foodie - I just call it as I see it Fran ;)

The Ample Cook said...

Blimey Dan, what great value. Especially the rillettes.

Loved the descriptive write up - really good Dan.

Hollow Legs said...

Wow - the portions are enormous! Glad to see you're still eating well out in the sticks ;)

Dan said...

The Ample Cook - Hey thanks Jan :)

Lizzie - hahaha I try to eat well whilst slumming it in the South West ;)

gastrogeek said...

I had no idea there were so many tree huggers in Bristol, yikes!....it was so lovely to meet "E" and to see you the other day :)

Anonymous said...

Ha ha! I had the reverse culture shock, I only manged three years in Colchester before moving back to Bristol! I missed kooky little places like that cafe.
Mind you now I'm home I do kinda miss Colchester a bit now too:)
Glad to see that even though the hippy locals aren't your cup of nettle tea you're open minded enough to make your own mind up.