The fact that two national newspaper restaurant critics - Jay Rayner and Marina O’Loughlin of sister papers the Observer and Guardian - covered restaurants in Bristol last weekend says everything about the buzzing food scene in the city. (“Some places seem to exist on culinary ley lines, blessed with improbable numbers of restaurants, food producers and food media” enthused O’Loughlin)
In fact it’s getting hard to keep up. In the last month alone there have been a whole raft of new openings. Here’s where you need to know about:
34 Cotham Hill, BS6 6LA
Bellita bills itself as "Bell’s* boisterous little sister" and is more of a bar than a restaurant though with better food than you have any right to expect. The wine list - featuring only wines made by women winemakers - is cool too. Already well used by the locals (including me) who drop in for a drink and a plate of the divinely fluffy little potato and cheese croquetas, you could even do a mini tapas crawl starting at Bellita and finishing at Bravas. Or vice versa. Here's O'Loughlin's review
*much-loved Bristol instution Bell's Diner, also rated by O'Loughlin
21 Cotham Road South, BS6 5TZ
There aren’t that many Michelin-style restaurants in Bristol (now Casamia is re-locating, it’s really only Wilks for the time being) so Bulrush which occupies the former Juniper in Cotham should find a ready audience for its clever sophisticated food. I had the very reasonably priced tasting menu (£38) there recently during which they hardly put a foot wrong - unusually the main course of lamb shoulder, belly and ‘bolognese; was a real highlight (it’s normally the starters in restaurants that appeal to me most). And the desserts, including the swoonworthy peanut butter fudge with barbecued banana sorbet, were sublime. The only downside is that the decor’s a bit stark though maybe they've put some pictures up in the meantime. It was early days.
Nettle and Rye
16 King's Rd, Clifton Village, BS8 4AB
The team from the The Famous Royal Naval Volunteer down in King Street have taken over what used to be the Hop Pole in Clifton. Downstairs there’s a classic gastropub with a great selection of craft beers, upstairs a more ambitious Scandi-inspired restaurant. Highlights for me were a starter of cured mackerel with buttermilk, rye, apple and cucumber and a fabulous hazelnut and rapeseed oil cake with sea buckthorn, white chocolate, yoghurt and dill. A useful addition to the Clifton eating-out scene which, Wallfish apart, isn’t dazzling.
85 Park Street, Bristol BS1 5PJ
With an impeccable pedigree (founder Stephen Whibley used to work for Gail’s Bakery in London and one of the sous was the pastry chef at top Cumbrian restaurant L’Enclume) Pinkmans looks set to add to Bristol’s reputation as a mecca for craft baking. Located in Park Street two doors down from Jamie’s Italian and cleverly targeted at students (there’s a good breakfast offering, all day coffee and cake and wood fired pizzas) they should do well. A brief visit on opening day confirmed they make some of the best brownies in town (the others being at Pear Café) Good for family outings.
There’s also . . .
The Ox, Clifton
96a, Whiteladies Rd, BS8 2QX
A Clifton (well, Whiteladies road) outpost of the popular city centre steakhouse which owes more than a nod (er hem, cough) to my son’s restaurant Hawksmoor. Haven’t been to this branch yet but if you fancy a steak you’ve now got a choice between this and Cowshed down the road which should keep them both on their toes.
and open for a few months now . . .
Aron’s Jewish Deli
19 Chandos Rd, Bristol, BS6 6JJ
Aron's offers something completely different for Bristol - or for anywhere in the UK, quite frankly - classic New York style deli food combined with Hungarian/Jewish home-style cooking. Particularly good for brunch. Daytime only. You can find my review here.
For more Bristol recommendations see:
It’s difficult. We sympathise. Despite being an entirely different shape and size we have an uncanny ability to turn up in the same outfit (usually black) and order the same dishes. We both wear glasses, swathe ourselves in scarves and fancy Daniel Craig.
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© 2015-18 Fiona Beckett & Fiona Sims (the2fionas.com), photography © Gary Latham, website by Scend