So, I’ve been living in Bristol for around two years now and I reckon I’ve now spent enough time stuffing my face and staggering around inebriated to be able to pass some of my hard won accumulated wisdom onto any visitors to the city.
Therefore, I’d like to present to you my favourite places to eat and drink in Brizzle, handily broken down into sections. I should stress, before I get any hateful comments, no doubt accusing me of being an Essex- know-nothing-twat who doesn’t know his arse from his elbow, these are ‘my favourites’, and as a result there’s the remote possibility that the places I like may not always tally with what you like.
Although, saying that, you should also be aware that I have impeccable taste and you could do muchos worse than to listen with rapt attention to every glittering nugget of well judged wisdom that is thoughtfully and modestly projected from my handsome mouth with regards to eating and drinking.
On that note, let us begin...
This small Cotham Hill restaurant has a daily changing Spanish- Italian influenced menu, which is always interesting. The cooking is superb, extremely polished yet rustic. The Chefs jointly own the restaurant with the proprietors of independent wine merchants, Corks of Cotham, just down the road. Somewhat unsurprisingly then, the wine list is excellent and well priced.
34 Cotham Hill, BS6 6LA
Telephone – 0117 923 8755
This St Nicholas market restaurant and food hall has only recently started opening in the evenings, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and I’ve already had some very good meals here. The fish and meat on the menu is straight from their own butcher and fishmonger counters and available to buy. The short, regularly changing menus, could probably be best described as modern British. The cooking is very good with the steaks being particularly top drawer. The bread and desserts are made by their own pastry chef, and are also superb (try the chocolate salted caramel cherry brownie).
1-3 Exchange Avenue, St Nicholas Market. BS1 1JW
Telephone – 0117 927 2998
The Bristol outpost of the high fashion department store has a very decent restaurant on the second floor. The dining room is glamorously decorated in a Bond’esque style, featuring lots of gold and plush white carpets. The beautifully presented, classically cooked food is excellent, particularly from the a la carte menu. The wine list is superb and extremely comprehensive. This is definitely the place to head if you feel like a bit of posh.
27 Philadelphia Street, Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, BS1 3BZ
Telephone - 0117 916 8898
Right now, this is undoubtedly my favourite restaurant in Bristol. Located just on the suburban edge of the city, the Chef is ex Moro, Lido and Flinty Red and he can really cook. The food is absolutely bloody fantastic, gutsy and full of bold interesting flavours but with some really subtle touches where needed. There’s a definite Spanish influence there, with a passing nod to British and classic French. The menu design and bargainous pricing lends itself to ordering lots to share, so go, get stuck in and enjoy.
2B North View, Westbury Park. BS6 7QB
Telephone: 0117 970 6276
*Update April 2013* Sam, the head chef has moved on and Manna has a new chef.
The Pony & Trap
A Michelin starred pub, which actually manages the tall order of being a proper pub as well as a restaurant, just 10 miles outside Bristol in the village of Chew Magna. The six course tasting menu I ate there last year was undoubtedly one of the best meals I’ve eaten anywhere let alone Bristol. At £45 it was an almost ridiculous bargain. Chef Josh Eggleton’s modern British cooking is inventive but remains on the right side of experimental. If it’s available, definitely go for the tasting menu. The wine list is decent and very well priced too.
Newtown, Chew Magna, Bristol, BS40 8TQ
Telephone - 01275 332627
The Runcible Spoon
I love The ‘Spoon. This Stokes Croft restaurant is owned by a co-operative of chefs, with much of the produce coming from their own allotment. It has a lovely rough rustic charm all of it’s own. The food is good with elements of real flair, generously portioned and always interesting with its admirable emphasis on seasonality and Britishness. That it’s all so fantastically cheap caps it off nicely.
3 Ninetree Hill, Stokes Croft, BS1 3SB
Telephone – 0117 3297645
*Update April 2013* The 'Spoon' is now only open on Fridays for dinner, Saturdays for brunch and dinner and Sundays for roasts.
Absolutely cracking modern Middle Eastern restaurant, just South of the river in Bedminster. The food is superb, beautifully presented and good value with an interesting specials board that changes daily
277 North Street, Bedminster, BS3 1JP
Telephone 0117 966 6880
My new favourite place for breakfast/brunch on Gloucester Road. A cracking plate of flaked ham hock poached eggs and hollandaise on toast for just four and a half quid?! A huge pot of tea for two, £2? I don’t know who the hell is pricing their menu, but I’d say get your ass down there quick before they come to their senses. Unfortunately, the brunch menu isn’t available on a Sunday, which is probably a good thing; otherwise I’d spend all weekend living in there. Oh, and can I just add, any place that serves devilled lamb kidneys for breakfast can do no wrong.
26-28 The Promenade, Gloucester Rd, BS7 8AL
Telephone – 0117 9427319
The Bank of Stokes Croft
I bloody love a fry up on the weekend, and Stokes Croft’s ‘The Bank’ does a cracker and its dirt-cheap at £5.50 which also includes either tea, coffee or, wait for it… a pretty decent Bloody Mary!! Can I get a massive WTF? Yes, service can be slightly erratic; the weekend staff often appear to be just as hungover as you, if not worse. But…£5.50…. tantalising.
84 Stokes Croft, BS1 3QY
Telephone - 0117 923 2565
*Update April 2013* The Bank breakfast, as it was when I wrote about it is no more. Quelle horreur. It's all gone hot dogs and waffles.
Just across the road from The Bank is Poco. Their breakfast options include a Moroccan breakfast, merguez sausage, harissa, sourdough and awesome creamy scrambled eggs. I like it a lot.
45 Jamaica Street, Stokes Croft, BS2 8JP
Telephone: 0117 923 2233
Boston Tea Party
Ok, it’s not an independent, but this small chain only exists in the South West and hasn’t reached evil corporation size quite yet, and there’s no denying that their coffee is bloody good They can always be relied upon to provide a decent flat white.
Various Bristol Locations
Baristas Coffee Collective
This IS an independent, and they serve excellent coffee.
29 Victoria Street, Harbourside, BS1 6AA
*Update April 2013* In the last couple of months, there has been a sudden outbreak of excellent independent coffee shops opening in Bristol, strangely all within a stones throw of each other. Definitely check out Wild at Heart on Broad Street, Small St. Expresso on errr...Small Street and finally Full Court Press, just about to open it's doors, also on Broad Street.
Found at the top of Whiteladies road, down a staircase almost hidden underneath an Indian restaurant. This low lit cocktail bar is all 1930’s Berlin understated elegance. Best enjoyed sat up at the bar watching the extremely knowledgeable staff do their thing.
52 Belgrave Road, Clifton. BS8 2XP
Telephone – 0117 946 6084
Located in a historic harbourside building, behind an unmarked door. This buzz and they might let you in cocktail bar has to be seen to be believed. Think gothic, wood panelled English country house spread over a couple of floors. The bar staff know what they’re doing and make fantastic drinks.
Quay Head House, Colston Avenue, BS1 1EB
Telephone - 0117 9294429
Hyde & Co
Up at the top of Park Street, just by The Triangle, this smaller sister bar to Milk Thistle, has a similarly eclectic, gothic, English gentleman vibe going on. It’s a fantastic place for a cheeky cocktail.
2 The Basement Berkeley Crescent, BS8 1JY
Telephone – 0117 9297007
A historic Inn in St Nicholas Market, now a very good cocktail bar. The selection of spirits behind the bar is huge. They know how to make a superb gin martini.
All Saints Lane, Old City, BS11JH
Telephone – 0117 929 0111
On the 2nd floor as well as the restaurant, there is a pretty swanky small cocktail bar. Just the place for a pre-meal snifter or a posh drink if you happen to be in that part of town.
27 Philadelphia Street, Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, BS1 3BZ
Telephone - 0117 916 8898
NOT SO POSH DRINKS
The Green Man
A fiercely independent proper boozer up the hill in Kingsdown with a nice selection of seldom seen beers, ciders and ales. There is a small but very decent food menu. Its wood panelled interior is a very pleasant place to sit and have a drink and a chat. This is about as far away from a Wetherspoons or a trendy bar as you can get. If you wanted to show someone a real-deal proper English pub, this would fit the bill.
The Green Man, 21 Alfred Place, Kingsdown, BS2 8HD
On a sunny afternoon in Bristol, there is no better place to be than sat outside the Arnolfini bar, on the harbourside with a pint. Ok – just about every other frigging person in the city has undoubtedly had the same idea, but it’s still worth joining the throng and queuing at the bar before sprawling yourself on the quayside.
16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA
No 1 Harbourside
On this side of the harbourside on the weekends it’s hen and stag do central, drinking it up in the rubbish chain bars on the strip. If that’s not your thing, then head here. A large independent bar with decent local beers, ciders and ales with the added bonus of a small menu of pretty good, cheap and filling grub. Think beer battered hake fillet with fries and homemade tartar sauce, lamb stew or white wine mussels, all with free soup.
No. 1 Canons Road, BS1 5UH
No 1 Harbourside’s sister bar located in Stokes Croft. It’s more or less exactly the same except it’s ram packed all the time with a young, arty and trendy crowd. A decent place to sit outside with a pint and watch the comings and goings of the Croft, which lets face it, would keep even the most jaded people-watcher enthralled.
Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, BS1 3QY
This historic pub, just over the Bristol Bridge, in Redcliffe is what I’d call a proper boozer. Winner of the CAMRA Bristol pub of the year in 2010 and 2011, there’s a fantastic selection of unusual real ales and ciders, a dartboard and a pool table. Which is all you need really.
1 Thomas Lane Redcliffe, Bristol BS1 6JG
I’ve struggled to find decent takeaway food in Bristol, I’m still looking for a good Indian, but when it comes to Chinese/Thai/General Asian goodness, then China Capital is incredibly hard to beat. In fact, it’s so frigging awesome ‘E’ and I have had to agree to restrict ourselves to only ordering once a month, to when we’re feeling particularly lazy and don’t want to cook. I particularly recommend the udon noodles and the chicken satay skewers.
24 Ashton Road, BS3 2EA
Tel: 0117 953 9666
I should mention my own ‘Basement’ supper club. If you’re visiting Bristol and we’re holding one on that night – then this is where you should undoubtedly be headed.