Where Bristol foodies eat
Bristol has more than its fair share of cookery writers (including yours truly) so who better to ask where to eat in the city - and what to order? (Well, local chefs, maybe, but I’ll come on to that …)
Needless to say there’s a fair amount of consensus with Bell’s Diner and Bravas, particular favourites but also some unexpected gems you may not have heard of even if you’re a local.
XANTHE CLAY - Daily Telegraph food writer and author of several cookery books including Recipes to Know by Heart
Bravas - tiny and always packed, Bravas serves delicious Spanish tapas in an authentically buzzing atmosphere, plus great Iberian wines. I have lost far too many evenings here.
Lido - Chef Freddy Bird makes good use of the two wood fired ovens at this converted outdoor swimming pool. I love the light airy room - the best summer spot in Bristol but still warm and welcoming in winter - and I love the Mediterranean-rim food too, cleverly spiced and with big flavours, but not overwhelming the individual ingredients.
St Werburgh’s City Farm Café - A whacky hobbit house of a building that’s great for a lunch with small kids. The food here is honest and rustic, with a menu where home fermented vegetables with tostadas sits alongside homemade fish fingers. There’s a great playground, a deck to sit on in warm weather, and the farm animals to visit. If you are wondering why the pigsty is empty, though, look no further than the cafe’s delicious pork fajitas.
Sky Kong Kong is one of those off the wall restaurants that Bristol does so much better than London. It's in a dingy row of shops above an underpass - more like the set of an episode of Taggart than a foodie destination. There's a single refectory table, and decorations are limited to Wizzy’s copper pans and stacks of hand made Korean plates. Lunchtime there is a single dish on offer for around £6-£7 - beef bulgogi is popular - then in the evenings there is a set menu - just arrive, sit down and await dish after dish of Korean home cooking, like Korean sushi, steamed bream and chicken in ginseng broth. Sometimes there is a pudding, sometimes not - stroll down to the late night ice cream shop on Baldwin St if you need a sugary hit to finish.
JENNY CHANDLER - cookery teacher and author of Pulse
Bell’s Diner - Love that amazing slow cooked cauliflower
Wallfish - Anything squiddy (love the tiny fried whole ones with chilli and cumin
and then I really DO love a good brunch and just adore Bakers and Co’s Huevos Rancheros etc
KATE HAWKINGS, restaurateur, wine geek, barfly, Telegraph contributor, chair of the Guild of Food Writers
Wallfish - fantastic ingredients, focusing on the best of British, singing in dishes with their roots in the traditional but still modern and fresh. I always want everything on the menu. I love the simplicity - and messiness - of crab with mayonnaise, and the steak tartare is epic. Oh, and always start with pork crackling. Keith Floyd would be proud to have his restaurant now in such good hands, and still true to his ethos of brilliant food with no airs and graces.
Mayflower - best Chinese by miles, despite insalubrious setting. Best to go in a group and share a load of food - weekend dim sum is always a hoot, or late at night when you’ll find many of Bristol’s chefs kicking back after work. Don’t miss roast pork belly with crispy noodles, chilli salt baby squid and turnip paste with xo sauce.
Hart’s Bakery - I’ve known Laura Hart since she first arrived in Bristol and came to bake for Barny Haughton at Rocinanates. It’s fantastic to see her emerge as one of Bristol’s true food heroes - she’s really set the bar high and her bakery is always a joy to visit. As well as making the best bread in Bristol, her cakes are amazing but, because I have a savoury palate, I always go for her sausage rolls or pasties. Definitely worth leaving a little bit of extra time to visit before getting on a train at Temple Meads - everything’s available to take away and knocks spots off anything available at the station.
DAN VAUX-NOBES aka blogger Essex Eating and author of 101 BBQ and Grill Recipes
Bell's Diner - My favourite. Fantastic cooking. Regularly changing menu and a really atmospheric dining room. I always have the salt cod croquettes with aioli and there is nearly always a cracking little salad with ewes curd on the menu.
Wallfish - you'll find me there every Sunday morning without fail. In my opinion, their full English is the best breakfast in Bristol. I also eat there for lunch and dinner. The chocolate mousse and salted caramel dessert is a favourite.
Flour & Ash - Luckily it's near where I live in Redland and their pizza cooked in a wood fired oven is absolutely superb. I particularly like their sourdough pizza topped with Ox cheek ragu.
GENEVIEVE TAYLOR, food stylist and author of seven cookbooks including, most recently, How to Eat Outside
I eat out so rarely (pesky kids, expensive babysitters, too much cooking to do for my own books) but 3 places I really love, if very infrequently, are Bravas (best tapas I’ve eaten outside of Spain, brilliantly cold beer, great sherry), Birch (only been once but it was great, love the small menu and genuine seasonality) and Bell's Diner - frankly a Bristol institution that I’ve been going to for nearly 20 years and the new incarnation is the best yet. I love them all for their informality and unpretentiousness, not a whiff of ‘fayne dining’ in sight.
ELLY CURSHEN, cafe-owner (of the Pear Café), In Style food columnist, instagrammer (@ellypear), currently writing her first cookbook Fast Days and Feast Days
Bell's obvs - I go there all the time
Full Court Press for coffee
Matina in St Nicks for the best freshly made naan wraps I've ever tasted
Katie and Kim for brunch I always get whatever eggs and greens option is on that day - it varies but is always amazing. Usually served with whatever savoury scone thing they've made and some kind of delicious sauce. I'm happy to eat whatever I'm given there. It's always delicious
and Bakers and Co - their brunches are always spot on
MARK TAYLOR, Food editor Bristol Evening Post (so he probably eats out more than any of us)
Wallfish - rabbit and lobster pie
Bell's - salt cod frittters, aioli
Birch - custard tart
CLAIRE THOMSON, chef, Guardian contributor and author of The 5 o’clock Apron
Flour and Ash for great pizza, a well sourced and inexpensive wine list and lovely service - great with the kids - very low key and at the end of our road. Try the the blackcurrant sorbet for an intense fruity burst.
Bell's Diner Love Sam’s cooking and also Kate’s [Kate Hawkings] wine list. The vibe is a nice balance between low fly and happy energetic - I mostly bump into someone I know during the evening. The cauliflower cooked with yogurt is always nice and is a dish I also cook at home for the kids.
Chilli Daddies - went with my Sichuanese step-mum and she gave it the thumbs up. Level 3 for chilli for Matt and I and level 1 for the kids. We all love the cold noodle salads
ANDREA LEEMAN, chef, author of ‘A Taste of …’ series including, most recently, A Taste of Gloucestershire
We used to eat out a lot but my partner-in-crime has a hearing problem and restaurants of the sort we both enjoy are inevitably buzzy and noisy. We tend to eat locally these days; Oz on the Triangle in Clifton, The Spiny Lobster on Blackboy Hill and Fishers in Clifton Village. Oz is run by a delightful Turkish couple and focuses mostly on meze dishes. My husband devours platefuls of their cacik, Turkish for tzatziki whilst I go for the smoked aubergine, the squid and their feather-light homemade pasta; they have good Turkish wines and you can round off the meal with proper Turkish coffee.
The Spiny Lobster is a stylish and comfortable premises in French Brasserie style. The fish is fresh from Devon and Cornwall and you can wave at the chefs as they cook your meal; the kitchen is part of the dining area. As a fish lover, there is little on their menu that I would want to resist and whole fresh crab is top favourite. Spiny Lobster has a fish shop attached so most of my fish purchases come from there; they have good shell fish, samphire when in season and watch out for things brought in by Alan, one of their suppliers and also a forager. He will hightail it to Scotland for Morel mushrooms or pop into the shop with a bag of smoked prawns.
Once upon a time I ran restaurants in London and Fishers restaurant in Princess Victoria Street, Clifton reminds me of those days. The staff are bright and cheerful, the menu is mainly fish, simply cooked and nicely served at candlelit tables. I'd say their haddock-and-chips with mushy peas are the best in town!
And mine? Well, like my colleagues I'm a big fan of Bell's, Bravas and Wallfish but we also go regularly to Birch and I never get on a train without a sneaky visit to Hart's Bakery ...
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