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Jul 1, 2012 02:30 PM

Bristol with a Bristolian - need your hidden gems !!

Evening all

Down in Bristol in August with a good friend who is from Bristol.

Would like to surprise with my uncanny knowledge of great local places..

So, which knock out places , for lunch or dinner, might she not have heard of ?

Hidden gems, neighborhood winners, tiny amazing places, unexpectedly great food in pubs - please give them up now !

All cuisines welcome , casual places preferred to formal but not fussy if its a stellar place.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Where in Bristol does your friend live?

    10 Replies
    1. re: Peg

      The lady tells me Southville/Bedminster but happy to travel if that is not a foodie hotspot !

      1. re: willowan

        A few favourites, with a south Bristol focus...
        Star & Dove - interesting place. Serves up modern seasonal (very good) British food, but bases many of the dishes on centuries-old recipes. Good range of ales, too.
        The Old Bookshop - this has just appeared on the rougher fringes of North St, and I've heard excellent things about it. Very busy, very small, but excellent small plates and good live music, apparently.
        The Pump House - my favourite pub-restaurant in Bristol. Fantastic food, often do a great plat du jour at lunchtime. It's by the water, too, so a lovely place to go if the sun ever shines on this country again.
        Also, if you're in Southville, Mark's Bread is a brilliant artisan bakery - won't find many places producing such great bread in the UK.
        North of the river, Flinty Red, Manna and Pocos are all excellent sharing/small plate/tapas type places. Flinty Red the pick of those.
        If you have a car, a visit to the Ethicurean cafe in Wrington (just past the airport) is well worth it. Lovely views over the Mendips, based in a huge walled kitchen garden, and the food is immaculate.
        Most of these all have a local/seasonal bias - Bristol doesn't have a great deal of good ethnic restaurants at the moment - but they're all very casual, and all fit the bill for what you're after!

        1. re: willowan

          I'm the other side of Bedminster (Windmill Hill) - and I must say that the idea of Bemmie being a 'foodie hotspot' is the funniest thing I've heard all day! That being said, Southville is an 'up and coming' area, in fact it may have arrived.

          On my side of Bemmie there's Mrs Browns cafe in Victoria Park (near the bowling green) - a rare chance for an outdoor snack, should it not be raining. And the Victoria Park pub has a wood-fired pizza oven that I have heard good things about. The Windmill pub is a pleasant pub of the board-games, cloudy cider and hearty (and yummy) food variety.

          Further afield I like the south Indian food at Krishna's Inn on the Triangle (Clifton) - and just about anything in St Nicks Market is a good bet.
          Gloucester Road has loads of independent places - try the Canteen on Stokes Croft for a bit of arty culture in street-art central - and the Runcible Spoon on Ninetree Hill is a workers co-operative place that is a bit shambolic but the food is good.
          St Marks Road (Easton) has some colourful ethnic eateries, good for a shopping trip at lunchtime.

          If you're here on August 5th there's a slow food market near St Nicks that is very good (assuming it is running in August); there's a farmers market there every Wednesday.
          If you're heading for the balloon fiesta eat before you go - it's a nightmare of fairground fayre these days.

          Remember to bring an umbrella - it has been raining here forever, approximately.

          1. re: Peg

            Hey , thanks both

            Since I am coming from Liverpool, the brolly will already be in the car !

            Your recs look great - now for a cheeky follow up - will be in Bath on the Saturday night but seeing a concert at Bath Pavilion ( Elizabeth Fraser wa hey !! ) so wondered where might be good for a lazy lunch or early tea ?

            Again a quality pub venue or super bistro place would be perfect - though needs to be walking distance from train station and the Pavilion.

            Hope you can help unearth a Bath gem for me !

            Thanks again,

            1. re: willowan

              Menu Gordon Jones reviewed well on the board recently. However, I would try Allium Brasserie at The Abbey Hotel. It may be a Best Western, but the chef is Chris Staines who was at Foliage in London and very highly regarded (he moved on when the Mandarin Oriental closed Foliage to open Dinner). The menu is on-line and looks good.

              I used to live in Bath and found good food quite tricky to find given the number of visitors and wealth of the locals. These two are new and thus it looks like things are picking up.

              1. re: PhilD

                I've been hearing a lot of chat about MGJ, too, and look forward to trying it - but it's worth pointing out that it's quite an uphill schlep to get there from the train station.

                The Garrick's Head in the centre of town might be a good bet... A lovely room, right next to the Royal Theatre, and a great range of food, depending on how pressed for time you are.

                1. re: PhilD

                  I didn't realise Chris Staines only opened Allium last month hence the lack of reviews out there.

                  I was interested to see some of the photo's that re out there and compare them to the menu - I would say that to say the menu is very understated is a very understated statement. Looks like their is a lot going on n those plates which ties back to his style when he was at Foliage, and in those days it was recommended as one of London's better lunches - I know when I ate his food I was impressed.

                  One to watch for you west country folks.

                  1. re: Peg

                    Hey folks, thought I would let you have a quick report following on from your super recommendations.

                    We went to....

                    The Old Bookshop - hilariously at the end of the street my friend lives in ! - this place was great. Brilliant value 'not so small ' small plates ( four was more than sufficient for two ) for four quid each. Hearty stuff like chorizo and chick pea stew, asparagus on Marks bread with poached egg, etc. Plenty of local bottled ales and good wine by the glass. Small but friendly - nicely busy on a Thursday night. Apparently rammed at weekends and understandably so.Lovely stuff.

                    Mark's Bread you will all know, queue out of the door on Saturday morning - a mean walnut sourdough - we want one in Liverpool,please !

                    Allium bistro - Abbey hotel inBath. Seriously lovely place. We booked for 5.30 due to early concert but shifted table to 6.30 as it was empty. Lovely bright room with ( at the moment ) some great art work on show. Staff friendly & helpful ( if not super knowledgeable ) but not overbearing.
                    Food was great - I had the wonderful stuffed Mandarin segments ( shrimp paste, peanut, chilli, garnished with coriander ) to start and then belly pork which came with a delightful little shrimp omelette for main course. Friend had sea bream for main which was a little more conventional but lovely too. Great and reasonable wine by the glass. Just a shame we didnt have time to stop for pudding.
                    An indication of how good it was - my friend started to speculate that the hotel rooms must be nice.I reminded her it was a B.W establishment. She was sceptical about my scepticism. Then she went to the loo. Her scepticism about my scepticism ended there ! So, go and eat there please - just don't expect a lovely lav !

                    Ethicurean - perfect Sunday lunch spot. Great English wine by the glass (though pretty pricey IMO ). Lovely kitchen garden. Would definitely return.

                    One other place we ate at which is worth a mention - The Souk Kitchen on North Street in Bristol. Family run Turkish bistro. Now, I am not a Turkish food afficionado but it seemed like great authentic fayre to me ( wicked falafel starter ). Only downside was that wine we bought wasn't that great ( though we had just come from a lovely little wine bar in Clifton so they had a tough act to follow.

                    So, overall a great weekend. Thanks for all of your help. Make sure to post if you ever venture oop north !

                    1. re: willowan

                      Willow - I am really glad you enjoyed Allium, Chris Staines has a very solid reputation and is what Bath needed. I too would be slightly skeptical about a BW but I think the new owners have plans.