Yummy bits and bobs from my kitchen!
Bristol and my home town of Bath may only be 15 minutes apart on the train, but the two cities are so separate when it comes to their food cultures. Bath is pretty big into bistros and fine dining. Bristol on the other hand has a food culture that is unashamedly “street”. Obviously there is some overlap between the two – but spending a day in Bristol, searching out something a bit different has highlighted how vibrant, and more experimental Bristol’s food scene is.
I’m a lover of street food and markets. Ever since I was a kid I can remember finding them exciting – it was at a European food market that I first tried mayo on my chips, and since that day I’ve never looked back. In my teens I made my first venture into Camden Lock market, and as much as the vintage clothing and furniture stalls caught my eye, it was in the food section that I was really tempted to part with my cash. I guess I’m a bit of a sucker for variety.
Apparently though, I’m not the only one. Today was one of those rare days off where the weather was actually nice enough to venture out (roll on the summer). So, after a bit on searching online I found myself a couple of “errands” to run in merry old Bristol. Here are my 10 favourite foodie finds (so far) from my trip (see the interactive map or on the list below):
I found myself on the train to Bristol to check out the Temple Quay street food market among other places – I arrived just before it was supposed to open at 12 so it wasn’t too busy and it was just getting started. The fragrances and sights were amazing. There were twelve different stalls selling street food from Bristol and the surrounding areas, however there was a lot of variety as some of the stall holders had taken a lot of influences from American, Asian and Arabic food. From what I’ve seen lately, Arabic-influenced food seems to be a bit of a rising trend. I went for handmade falafel from a stall called Jacob’s Finest. Four different flavours and they were all delicious! http://bristoleats.co.uk/event/details/temple-quay-2/
This is not a regular food market spot, however it does play host to food and drink events occasionally. A while back I was lucky enough to stumble upon a huge food festival here when I visited with my family. In 2015 the Square played host to the Eat Drink Market (https://eatdrinkbristolfashion.co.uk/queen-square/eat-drink-market). It’s worth keeping an eye out for events in Queen Square if you’re going to be about.
Not a traditional foodie location, but worth a quick trip in you’re interested in eco living and dining. The shop had a few eco food items, like reusable food wraps, lunchboxes and reusable bottles as well as fun/cute stuff like lab wear for the kitchen. Millennium Square is also a beautiful place to sit out and have a sandwich and is part of a scheme where you can refill your water bottle for free – helping to save the environment, your health and your cash. I thought it was a bit of fun and definitely worth checking out for its ethical culinary credentials. If you’re thinking about having a sit down meal though, I’d recommend going further afield than this area. The cafes and restaurants, although there’s nothing wrong with them, are a bit more expensive and “run of the mill” round here. They are catering for tourists and day trippers after all.
A bustling shopping street with discount, local and vintage stores as well as a massive array of eateries. Two highlights:
Cafe Du Jour
A really sophisticated looking French style cafe that does both light meals and cakes.
A bustling shopping street with discount, local and vintage stores as well as a massive array of eateries. If you’re looking to keep it local and fairly budget, Sandwich Sandwich could be a good option. You’re going to need to refuel after spending all your energy (and money) walking up Park street.
Okay, so I only passed Zerodegrees on this trip, I didn’t actually venture in. It was however the venue for my work’s Christmas party. It has an open kitchen (so you can see your food as it’s being made) and its own brewery which you can see at work while you sup on some of their rather tasty home brewed beer. Worth a try if you want to have a bit of home brew in rather nice, modern surroundings.
An informal deli style eatery that prides itself on Szechuan street food (so this one is for the heat lovers out there) and has a stall at St Nick’s Friday food market. It feels very authentic, but you have to do some guesswork looking at the menu; with names like “Mouth-watering Chicken”, you aren’t 100% sure what dish exactly you’re going to get. (I think you can trust them on how “mouth-watering” their food is though; in 2014 they were awarded the title of “finalist” in the BBC Food and Farming award).
Because I love cider and it would be a bit wrong to visit Bristol without checking out some cider. This little shop is cute, quaint and a great place to pick up a souvenir of Bristol; as they told me, everything in the shop was not only local, but is of a high enough standard to be considered “real cider” or Perry. If you fancy learning a bit about cider, it might be worth making one of your visits coincide with one of their cider tasting nights.
I love art almost as much as I love food (they’re pretty deeply linked, but that’s a completely separate blog post). I therefore had to check out the Bearpit. It’s known for being pretty damn rough, but it is in a bit of a regeneration phase. Sadly I missed the food market here, as it had been on the previous day, but it appeared to be a similar kind of deal to the Temple Quay Market from the poster. Yes, the Bearpit is still a little rough around the edges, but if you don’t mind going a little further out of the city, it may turn out to be a bit of a diamond in the rough. (Follow The Bearpit Market on Facebook for updates https://www.facebook.com/BearpitMarket/) It’s especially worth a visit if you plan on doing some street art spotting like I was.
Although it’s not strictly a food market, St Nick’s (as it’s known by locals) does have several cafes and food shops dotted around, as well as having a dedicated food corridor. If I’d had more time, I would have spent a lot longer in here.
Apparently Bristol’s first gluten free shop! It’s a location worth noting, given how the gluten free diet has made headlines so much in recent years.
They deliver much higher standards than you might expect from a market stall. The cakes were beautifully presented (on a food porn worthy display) and the orange and Earl Grey cake that I bought from them tasted as good as it looked. Ahh Toots is the perfect place to indulge your sweet tooth, but also provides delicate looking homemade quiches and savoury pastries for those not looking for a sugar rush. Oh, and surprisingly, they also had vegan options up there amongst the traditional cakes. For the standard of cakes they were selling it was also really reasonably priced and offered takeaway boxes, so you can munch on the go as well as eating in their oh so sweet, vintage style seating area.
This is a meat lovers’ paradise. They smoke their own meat and deliver a proper redneck, “dirty south” dining experience… I mean that in a good way.
Both a shop and cafe. It’s more artisanal than cheap and cheerful, but worth taking a look at for their homemade produce as well as a well-stocked deli, meat and fish counter.
A barge that sells cider and has a “build your own” cheesy chips menu. Because it wouldn’t be Bristol without cider and cheese and who doesn’t want to get drunk on a barge?
I’ve lived in Bath for almost five years now and have barely taken myself over to Bristol at all. It seems like a bit of a shame to miss out on what it has to offer given that it is actually a pretty major city with a lot to offer. Given that it’s a mere £7.20 for a return on the train, I might be taking advantage of Bristol a bit more often in the future.