Friday 31 August 2012

My guide to eating and drinking in Bristol - Updated January 2015

So, I’ve been living in Bristol for around three 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.

Things are constantly changing in the Bristol dining and boozing scene, restaurants close, others open etc  I'll try and keep this guide updated. Just so you know, this post was last updated in January 2015

On that note, let us begin...

Flinty Red
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
Harvey Nichols
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

Bell's Diner and Bar Rooms
Right now, this is undoubtedly my favourite restaurant in Bristol. It's so good, I eat here at least once a week. Located in Montpelier, the Chef, Sam is ex Moro, Lido, Flinty Red and Manna and he can really cook. His 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 wine list is pretty bloody good too.So go, get stuck in and enjoy.

1-3 York Road, Montpelier, BS6 5QB
Telephone: 0117 924 0357
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
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
Wallfish Bistro
This cracking little bistro is on the site of the late legendary chef, TV personality and boozer, Keith Floyd's first restaurant. The owners have worked at Hix, Ducksoup and Le Cafe Anglais and it shows. Solid cooking, lovely seasonal ingredients, bargain prices and a menu featuring British classics such as roast grouse. If you're in Clifton (or anywhere in Bristol really) definitely eat here.

112 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton. BS8 4DB
Telephone: 01179 735435
Birch is my joint favourite restaurant in Bristol right now, a distinction shared with the excellent Bell's Diner. My friends Sam and Becky run this cracking South of the river restaurant, just down the road from Tobacco Factory and their background tells you all you need to know. St John Hotel, Hawksmoor, Quality Chop House and 40 Maltby Street, to name just a few. The food is truly excellent, they growing a lot of their own produce in an allotment. It really is superb. Absolutely love it.

47 Raleigh Road, Southville. Bristol. BS3 1QS
Telephone: 01179 028 326
Flour and Ash
An absolutely belting wood fired pizza restaurant, just by the arches on Cheltenham Road. Lovely sourdough bases with just the right amount of charring, imaginative toppings (ox cheek ragu is my favourite). A nice selection of wines and beers and a frankly amazing chocolate ice-cream. I'd say this is the best place to get pizza in Bristol right now.

203B Cheltenham Road. Bristol. BS6 5QX
Telephone: 0117 908 3228

Sticks & Broth

The London trend for ramen finally hit Bristol last year, and speaking as someone who's eaten at some of the better places in the Capital (Bone Daddies and Tonkotsu). Sticks & Broth compares really bloody well. The menu features a nice selection of ramen and donburi, which although no doubt, is anything but, somehow feels incredibly virtuous and healthy. Mine's a tantanmen ramen.

48-52 Baldwin Street. BS1 1QQ
Telephone:  0117 925 5397

Just across the road from Canteen in Stokes Croft 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
Wallfish Bistro
Another mention for these guys. They serve breakfast/brunch all weekend from 10am-3pm and it's absolutely belting. It's ridiculously hard to get a good breakfast in Bristol, especially on a Sunday, so go here, have the full English, drink coffee, read the papers and give me a wave whilst I do the same. I'm in there EVERY Sunday, without fail.

112 Princess Victoria Street, Clifton. BS8 4DB
Telephone: 01179 735435

Hart's Bakery
This excellent artisan bakery, located at Temple Meads in an archway underneath the station approach, is a must visit for breakfast if you're travelling anywhere by train (or even if you're not) Ignore the abysmal chain offerings on the platforms and head here for Laura Hart's excellent coffee, superb cakes, pastries and bread (I'm a huge fan of the fennel and raisin variety).  Open 7am-3pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

Arch 35 Lower Approach Road, Temple Meads. BS1 6QS

Workhouse Cafe
Just down the road from the BRI, on the corner of St Michaels Hill, this steamy windowed café serves breakfast Mon-Fri 8-11 and all day on Saturday. Its fast becoming my favourite midweek go to. Laura Hart’s sourdough toast, cracking coffee and a belting full English for £6.50 (I'm a particular fan of the sausage sandwiches, smothered with sriracha), they also serve porridge, if you’re feeling virtuous.

Perry Rd, Bristol, Avon BS1 5BG
Telephone: 0117 329 0889

Bakers And Co.
A new addition to my breakfast listing, and what a belter it is. Located on Gloucester Road and serving excellent food inspired by the San Francisco cafe scene, this buzzing little cafe is fast becoming one of my regular morning go to's. I'm a greedy bastard, so I most often go for the more traditional  'Baker's breakfast', but there are some other excellent, really interesting choices on the menu. No reservations taken, so just turn up and squeeze in.

193 Gloucester Road. BS7 8BG


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 decent. 

Various Bristol Locations

Full Court Press
This IS an independent, and they serve excellent coffee.

59 Broad Street, Bristol, BS1 2EJ

Small Street Espresso
Another cracking independent coffee shop, right near St Nicks Market.

Small Street, BS1 1DW

Didn't They Do Well
More cracking coffee, this time on Park Row

20 Park Row, BS1 5LJ7

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

Milk Thistle
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

The Rummer
A historic Inn in St Nicholas Market, now a very good cocktail bar. The selection of spirits behind the bar is huge.

All Saints Lane, Old City, BS11JH
Telephone – 0117 929 0111
Red Light
Just opened as of October 2013, this is Bristol's newest hidden cocktail bar. Located downstairs, behind a dingy, unmarked doorway covered with graffiti in Unity Street (Look for the feint red glow in one of the alcoves) Access is granted by using the payphone. Superb drinks, knowledgeable bar staff. A Plymouth gin Martini, dry with a twist is the house standard, that's all you need to know.

No1 Unity St, BS1 5HH
Tel: 0117 9291453

The Doghouse
The latest 'speakeasy' style Bristol cocktail bar, located just off of Corn street. Head downstairs into the atmospheric stone vaults and have a Plymouth gin martini, theirs are pretty bloody good.

12 St.Stephens Street, BS1 1EL
Tel: 0117 9255207

Bar Buvette
A pop-up French natural wine bar on Baldwin Street that also does a fine selection of charcuterie and cheese boards. Frankly, this is probably my favourite place to drink in Bristol right now. I LOVE IT. There is no finer way to spend an evening. Honest.
Their license is currently due to run out at the end of January (moves are afoot to extend it). Go while you can! Then join me crying my eyes out, if and when it closes.

31 Baldwin Street. BS1 1RG 


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

The Arnolfini
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 soup included in the price.

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

Seven Stars
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

There's been something of an explosion of craft beer bars in the past few months in Bristol, I've drank my fair share in all of them. Here's the ones I particularly like.

Aberdeen based 'Punk' craft beer brewers have made it to Bristol. I particularly like the Punk IPA

58 Baldwin Street, Bristol, BS1 1QW
The Crofter's Rights
Formerly a live music venue, The Croft. This recently opened Stoke's Croft craft beer bar is a great place to hang out on a Friday or Saturday night. The interior is stripped back to sod all, but still looks cool and I particularly like the bleacher style seating opposite the bar, a health and safety nightmare for the inebriated.  If you're in for the long haul, drink Harbour Light.

117-119 Stokes Croft

The Barley Mow 
Bristol Beer Factory's 'flagship pub', 5 minutes walk from Temple Meads. This is a lovely little pub with an awesome selection of craft beer. Highly recommended. I particularly like Magic Rock, Simpleton.

39 Barton Road, St Philips, BS2 0LF

Small Bar
This is a regular (almost daily!) haunt of mine. An excellent craft beer bar with an ever changing list to choose from. It really is superb. Absolutely love it. Go!

31 King Street. BS1 4DZ


China Capital
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 I've decided to restrict myself to only ordering once a month, to when I'm 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


Rachael said...

YES! I'm glad someone else appreciates China Capital. I just ordered it on a whim one night and was astonished to get Chinese takeaway that was non-greasy and tasty.

Dan said...

Rachael - Some friends tipped us off about China Capital, and we order from there pretty reguarly. I could just eat the chicken satay skewers and udon noodles basically.

Graphic Foodie said...

Fantastic resource for visitors & locals. Really liked No 1 Harbourside you pointed me to when I was down.

Been compiling by "best of " Brighton for an eternity. Need to get it out of the drafts :)

Dan said...

Graphic Foodie - Hey thanks Fran. A 'Best of' Brighton would be extremely useful for next time I'm down that way. Get it done! said...

Great post and so useful for me at the moment! I am here for a conference and quite at loss on where to eat. Had some pretty bad food already, should have found your post earlier!

KSalty said...

Hey Dan been meaning to comment on this post for ages to thank you for the brilliant list of recommendations you did for me when we came down to Bristol in the summer. Flinty Red in particular was absolutely brilliant. Look forward to coming back and eating more! K

Dan said...

KSalty - Hey Katy, really glad you found the Bristol recommendations useful. Let us know when you head back this way again!

Bistro Becs said...

Really helpful post :-) I was in Bristol last week and had lunch at Harvey Nichols and it was very decent indeed. I'm favouriting this post for next time I head to Brizzle to visit the brother!

Dan said...

Bistro Becs - Thank you. Believe it or not, I've found this post useful myself, when pondering where to eat.

Food Urchin said...

You greedy, drunk bastard........but hey, what an indispensable guide to Brizzle.

Well done mate.

Tom said...

Great list, and for sure I'll be trying some of these places next time I'm in the hood. My favourite Indian takeaway by miles is Mela, opposite One Stop on Picton St. - delicious & super cheap.

Anonymous said...

Some delicious ideas to try out there.

In terms of a good Indian, it's not flash, but the food is amazingly good: Ganesha is just over the river from Redcliffe on Bedminster Parade.

Arnolfini does good coffee and brunch (creamy chestnut mushrooms on sourdough toast) and has some nice cakes too. It's just a matter of getting a seat...

If not, the crepe shack on the bridge just down from there does beautiful coffee and nice crepes for not much money.

There are heaps of good pubs you didn't mention - my favourite for Sunday lunch is The Windmill in Bedminster. The Grain Barge on the harbour moored off Hotwells Rd has a great vibe and fab food.

Our current favourite local for a quiet Friday night dinner is The Rose of Denmark in Hotwells. The chef puts a lot of love in his food. I recommend the duck.

Dan said...

Danny - Thanks dude and yes, I am a greedy bastard.

Tom - Cheers, I know Mela. I used to live around the corner. You're right, it is good.

Birdybegins - Thanks very much for the recommendations, some I know, some are new to me. I'll have fun trying them all out. Cheers.

Tinabobina99 said...

Putting this in my travel bookmarks folder for the next time I'm in the South West (family was from Dorset, I'm now in the US in Oregon). Thanks for your opinions!

Dan said...

Tinabobina- Hey, hope you find it useful next time you're over this side of the pond