I often get asked by both friends and strangers about which are my favourite places to eat in Bristol. They ask for recommendations and as my public has requested (well both of them), I thought it’s about time to share my top 5 with you all so that you to can go and experience my favourite places.
So, how do you even start to compile a list when there are literally thousands to chose from? Well after some thought and trust me I totally started to over think this and even considered using an excel spreadsheet! Then it came to me early one morning while sat in my “man cave” pulling on that day’s socks (Insta followers will know what I mean by that) which places do I frequent the most? Surely there is no better gauge than that? So here goes oh and in no particular order.
The Ivy Clifton
The Ivy in Clifton ticks so many boxes, they are first on my list and for good reason. (I know it is not in order but maybe subconsciously it is). The location is excellent standing on one of the main corners in which can only be described as one of the best city villages in the country. On entering you are totally blown away by the decor and the first thought is always “have I dressed smart enough?”
The hosts who are all clearly dressed in Reiss (as I have been reliably informed), are attentive and smiley and are always happy to seat you. However, this is nothing compared to the service your will recieve on your visit. They take service for me to another level. In fact, another few levels if we are being brutally honest.
The menu has plenty to chose from and suits every occasion from brunch to afternoon tea. Is it expensive I hear you ask? Not for what you get but you need to understand, this is Clifton and it’s The Ivy! I genuinely believe you get what you pay for but please try and experience the different times. It’s very casual for brunch but they somehow manage to really formalise it in the evening.
I think this might surprise a few people that Brew Coffee Company has made my top 5 (I don’t like coffee you see) but they have 3 really vital ingredients that make this place work for me every time.
The breakfast/brunch is one of the best in the city and the options make me chose something different every time. Everything from “Turkish eggs” to their own baked beans! That’s right no branded beans in this establishment, theyare all made from scratch – go on give them a try and thank me later.
The staff are amazing and efficient and they manage to give this place a great atmosphere no matter how many people are eating there. So what is the 3rd and most important reason this venue makes it into my top 5? It is at the end of my street and we can walk there in about 45 seconds. Top tip here try the famous chilli you will love it and what a price.
Well, could I have gone any more left field after The Ivy? Well this cornerstone of Cotham Hill does exactly what it says on the tin! (Well ok, the shop front but I was on a roll).
They manage to combine the “grab and go” culture with the coolness of sitting downstairs in The Khan, where you are whipped away to somewhere far more exotic where they have anything ranging from “belly dancers” to Friends and falafel” which was one of my favourite Saturday afternoons in recent years.
They also cater for parties including our own summer party (maybe you will get an invite next year). They supplied the much-needed sustenance as our gin bar was going down too well. The team and the owner are fabulous and always look after me and often invite me in to help with tasting new dishes, it’s a tough job I can tell you. However, 99% of the time I get a falafel wrap with extra chilli sauce (be careful its hot) take it home, sit on the couch and get lost for a few minutes and maybe this is as close to heaven as I will actually get. Go visit.
It is virtually impossible to walk up or down Park Street and not pop into Pinkmans. In fact, if you have walked past and not gone in what is wrong with you? Not many establishments get it right from early mornings to late night but they manage it.
It’s a great place to sit in the window and watch the people struggle up the hill or glide down it depending on the direction of travel. Their doughnuts are infamous and if you trust me, just pop in and order a box for your friends or colleagues and watch how popular you become. Brunch is exactly what you would expect from these guys and I always without fail to go for the Shakshuka.
The bread as you can imagine is to die for and worth the trip. They manage to get the atmosphere spot on. The sharing tables combined with an open kitchen allows you to wait in anticipation but jealously looking at other food and suddenly getting the food envies which we all suffer most days. Pinkmans has quickly established itself into a key player in the Bristol food scene and it’s easy to see why.
For someone who isn’t a huge fan of Italian restaurants, (I know I spent 10 days in Italy last year so that statement is a little strange) the fact that this place makes my top 5 shows what an amazing venue it is.
They somehow manage to get the whole experience right depending on what type of experience you are looking for. I have visited for an early lunch on a summers day and sat in the window seats (see above) and enjoyed the three-course set menu with some additional wine which was probably the most chilled lunch I have experienced in Bristol.
Then the venue really changes in the evening when it becomes an electric and bustling restaurant. The open wood burning oven really adds to the whole experience. The food is fantastic and you can even really soak up the atmosphere by sitting at the bar and enjoying the offerings. What is great about Bosco is that if you want the same excellent food but a very different experience try their restaurant in Clifton village.
Well I am allowed to have a “wildcard”, after all it’s my game. There is literally only one place to go for gelato in the city as far as I am concerned. The range of freshly made gelato blows my mind and there is nothing better than timing it right so you get the window seat, where you can enjoy your choices (obviously nobody would just chose one flavour!) and both watch the world go by and also laugh at the people who are gelato free and haven’t discovered this mecca.
The biggest compliment you can give this place is that “flavalanche” on Park Street decided to close and have a facelift, guess what they now sell gelato in alot of different flavours. Swoon we love you.