Where - and what - Bristol chefs eat
As there was so much interest in the post on where my fellow food writers eat out in Bristol I thought I'd do a follow-up with chefs.
Although some of the same names appear - you’d be amazed if they didn’t - chefs have a natural fondness for places that are open late - and for a good Chinese!
JOSH EGGLETON - The Pony & Trap - and recent participant in the Great British Menu
If I'm driving past I'll hop out and get a snack from this little place. You can pick up a steamed bun - a Bao with fried chicken, fresh coriander, fresh radish, steamed and served with wasabi mayonnaise. Delicious. It's a great snack place and it's food is clean and fresh.
When I go to Wallfish I want to eat everything on the menu. For me this is probably the best restaurant in the city. It's the perfect incarnation of a bistro, lovely and relaxed and the food is top notch.
For a special occasion you can't beat Casamia. You know you're going to be looked after and you can sit back and relax with a menu the is seasonal, interesting and surprising.
SELDON CURRY - Wallfish
A favourite. Always start with a glass of Nyetimber. Then probably a whole flatfish with brown shrimps. The peanut mousse cake is also great.
Negronis, great cured meat and Italian cheese. And then grappa!
More negronis to start. Rare bavette. And the foie gras and trotter on toast is a must.
(I would put Birch in this list but Sam and Beccy are very selfishly shut when we are.)
IAIN PENNINGTON & MATTHEW PENNINGTON, The Ethicurean
Iain and Matthew cunningly picked 6 restaurants between them on the grounds that there were two of them and that they were therefore entitled to 3 restaurants each. Cunning.
Iberico butter and their bread, without fail. White peach & tomato salad is a common summer treat whenever I can rush down after service. A most memorable dish was lamb sweetbreads with morels. Inspired cooking in a perfectly crafted ambiance with a standout wine list.
Graham and Kate have researched and developed a pizza dough that's in its one hundred and seventeenth incarnation. A rye mother sourdough that re-ignites artisan craft. Toppings are classic and on point. An attention to detail unsurpassed. The 450º oven is on the back of a yellow Landrover Defender which appears at various festivals and markets around Bristol.
My go-to-brunch destination. Food clearly cooked with love that has all the integrity I seek and it's so on trend. Old Winchester cheese & fermented slaw quesadilla. Hake chowder is the best I’ve had the world over though it’s also great place to abstain from meat if you will. Cold brew coffee & excellent espresso based drinks. Look out for Tasty Tales nights there. Four courses of seasonal food with stories between each course from the majestic Martin Maudsley. What a venue, a hobbit house!
I urge you to start with smoked whipped pollock roe & rye crackers. And the brawn and pickles if it's on. Always try his beef dishes & never miss pudding. Their treacle tart is in it’s own league. Its the kind of place that a couple or small group can order across the whole menu. Sharp and precise cooking of three or four ingredients always well balanced. Natural wine list steeped in knowledge. The best hosts.
Coffee served at this level will always have me stopping for breakfast. The Huevos Rancheros is textbook and authentic. I’ll opt for custard toast and maple sausage if I’m short on time and the Bakers Breakfast when there's plenty. Refreshing soft drinks list too.
John & Julu. What a team. Small plates paired with great drinks. A notable dish was steamed plaice, with an acidic grape verjus & artichokes. The hake and crispy mussels with red wine tartare is bold and inventive. I appreciate their laid-back and relaxed service. After working through the cheese list make sure you finish on their burnt butter ice-cream.
SAM LEACH, Birch
I love Katy and Kim's - it's perhaps my favourite place to eat in Bristol and our most regular Sunday breakfast joint. I always have a grapefruit juice and a black coffee to start off with, and then a mackerel bap if it's available, or a scone with bacon and eggs. Always ask for extra aioli... The custard tarts are (dare I say it) the best in Bristol.
A fairly unprepossessing entrance hides ones of Bristol's best restaurants. There is some seriously good cooking going on and the ingredients are always fresh and usually brought to the table for inspection before cooking. Eat the whole crab with ginger, crispy noodles with brisket and tripe, fish flavoured aubergine, lamb clay pot, morning glory with shrimp paste. The service is bizarre but charming and it is well worth asking to go off menu for the best stuff.
I have probably eaten at Flinty more than any other place in Bristol. With Beccy, on my own, with friends or family. Everything is great really, but their pasta is always standout, and I could cheerfully eat three courses of it. Only once have I been when bolito misto was on the menu but it was the best meal I've had there. Sadly Flinty won't be around for that much longer so go while you can.
Other places which I love for dinner are: Bells Diner, No Mans Grace, Wallfish, Mayflower, Chilli Daddy.
SAM SOHN-RETHEL, Bell's Diner
Having two children means that we go to Mayflower at least a couple of times a month. My eldest loves the crispy duck pancakes and I think that dishes like the salt and pepper squid and the fried turnip paste in XO sauce is some of the best cooking in town.
If I'm in the area I always try and get here for lunch. Dan really knows his way around a pig and a BBQ.
There's loads of brilliant cooking in Bristol right now but when i get a very rare opportunity to go out for dinner without kids then we head straight to Birch. Sam's a friend and cooks the sort of food I want to eat on my night off. Amazing ingredients cooked perfectly. I recently had the best steak and chips of my life there. With a big bowl of mayonnaise and a green salad on the side. Perfection.
ANDREW GRIFFIN - Prego
Being as busy as I am, eating out with friends and family is something I don't take lightly. When we go out to eat, we try to go to places where we will find a good atmosphere,great service and really great food.
We all love Bravas on Cotham Hill - great atmosphere and food, I really enjoy the aubergine with molasses while the kids will eat anything in there particularly if there is fried fish involved.
When we're in town, we always head for The Stock Exchange Bakery. It has a great all round quality about it, good coffee and food and there's always a very tempting array of bakery goods on display. The girls also get to see their sister Molly Griffin who is working there, heading up the kitchen.
A visit to Souk Kitchen always goes down well with the family. Great tastes and flavours.
On the rare occasions that Sara and I are out together Bell's Diner is always a place we are happy to go. The whole experience, wine list and staff are always tremendous, Sam's cooking is always exceptional - big bold flavours, perfectly seasoned and balanced.
Although I have eaten at The Wallfish Bistro only once I would definitely go back. great simple flavours, outstanding produce cooked very well, great wine too.
Other places that I've enjoyed have included Bakers & Co., Poco, Thali Cafe, The Lido and pizza from Flour and Ash and Prego, obviously.
DANIELLE COOMBES - Bishopston Supper Club
I don't often have a huge amount of free time, or disposable income, so when we go out it needs to be to somewhere welcoming and comfortable with delicious, unpretentious food.
Birch, Bell's Diner and Wallfish are the most obvious restaurant choices for me, each with different styles, I find it very difficult to choose my favourite between them. I'm confident going to any of these that the food will be thoughtfully sourced, expertly prepared and skilfully cooked. The service and atmosphere is also impeccable, which is just as important as the food in my opinion. I enjoy trying different wines by the glass, natural or unusual styles particularly. Their menus change regularly so there are always new dishes to try.
I love the various snacks at Birch; puffed pig skin, mutton scrumpets & anchovy biscuits to name a few, their locally & ethically sourced meat & other produce is probably the tastiest and most tender I've experienced, their homegrown produce is often fresh out of the garden that day and sings with fresh flavours and vibrant colours. I always like to try whichever refreshingly zingy sorbet is available (I'm not a big pudding person).
At Bell's I'd always start with jamon butter, pickles and salt cod fritters while I sip on a negroni, move on to a combination of veg, meat & fish small plates ranging from delicate peach & ewes curd salad and sweetcorn fritters, to smoked eel and venison bursting with flavour and richness, whilst working my way through their wine by the glass selection, usually finishing with the local cheese selection.
Wallfish's lamb sweetbreads, and steak with bone marrow and snails was one of the tastiest meals I've had this year.
For a treat, I’d make the effort to cycle out of town and go to The Ethicurean. The menus are always interesting with varied flavours and textures. Walking through the walled garden, lovingly run & tended by Mark Cox, gives me great joy & veg-growing envy in equal measures.
The Grace we frequent often as it’s our local and luckily their food is brilliant, and service is fab. The garden is a beautiful sun trap. Their roasts are awesome, among the best in Bristol I’d say. Other pubs we love are Bag of Nails, Gallimaufry, Small Bar, Volunteer Tavern, for great atmosphere and interesting local/crafts beers, and Rummer or Hyde & Co. for cocktails.
Have become a bit of a Chinese food addict in the last few years, dim sum, particularly, at Water Sky is one of my favourite ways to while away an afternoon off. I enjoy going off-piste and trying some weird and wonderful dishes such as chicken feet, duck tongues or braised tripe but also their handmade dumplings are divine, I love the soupy crab or prawn & chinese chives ones, and the char sui steamed buns or cheung fun. Best to go with a group of people and try as much and as varied a selection as you can. It’s ludicrously good value. Mayflower and Chilli Daddy are also brilliant.
JOE HARVEY - Freelance chef working part-time at Bell's and the Cafe Mulino Pizza pop-up
Admittedly i have an invested interest in this little gem in St Werburghs as my siblings run it outside our family home on Tuesday evenings. However, the sourdough pizzas cooked in the wood fired oven built by our Dad are truly delicious and to eat them in such a unique surrounding adds so much more to the experience.
What ever is on the menu on the day, usually something bacon-based smothered in aioli or harissa with a mountain of greens on their lovely sourdough toast. Also their fresh juices are a dream for a sore head!
Padron peppers and a selection of oysters followed by a whole Portland crab with mayo and chips never seems to fail at probably my favourite Bristol restaurant.
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