News: Best of Bristol 2014: Food and drink

Martin Booth, December 18, 2014


1. Birch
Not just the best new opening of the year, but an exemplary restaurant that can already easily be talked of as one of the best in Bristol. Owners Sam Leach and Beccy Massey used to run supper clubs in their own home before realising a long-held dream and opening a restaurant of their own, with much of the green stuff grown themselves in a smallholding near Whitchurch.
47 Raleigh Road, Southville

2. Sky Kong Kong
Tucked between the Bearpit and the bus station, it’s been quite a journey to her new professional home on Haymarket Walk for Korean chef Hwi Shim (Wizzy to her friends) who moved to Bristol after working in Michelin-starred restaurants in London. Expect everything from sushi to paella, depending on what mood Wizzy is on a particular morning.
Unit 2, Haymarket Walk

3. Chai Shai
Opened by Faruk Choudhury while still Lord Mayor, Chai Shai is where I could be found filling up my Thali Café-branded tiffin at least once a fortnight this year. Food is influenced by Bangladeshi cuisine as well as northern India. It may well be primarily known as a takeaway,  a recent rejig has seen more space available for eating in.
4 Jacob’s Wells Road, Hotwells


1. The Christmas Steps
In a first for Bristol, a magazine took over a pub. Diversifying the brand it’s called in the trade. Formally the Three Sugar Loaves, dating back four centuries but recently falling on hard times, thanks to the team behind Crack magazine, The Christmas Steps has become a destination of choice for the cool kids in the evening with a popular food and drink menu during the day.
2 Christmas Steps

2. The Greenbank
Thank goodness for people power. If it wasn’t for the tenacity of Easton residents, the Greenbank would now be houses. But following a concerted local effort, the pub was saved and reopened with a more than moderate lick of paint, new improved beer garden and Toby Bywayer from Zazu’s Kitchen at the helm and local suppliers much in evidence.
57 Belle Vue Road, Easton

3. The Steam Crane
Replacing what used to be The Bay, the Steam Crane has taken inspiration from some of Bristol’s finest bars such as the nearby Old Bookshop to create a mighty fine pub. Named after the Fairbairn steam crane overlooking the Floating Harbour near Brunel’s Buttery, a proliferation of antlers, lots of candles and graffiti art canvasses are dotted about the pub, which also has a spacious outside area.
4-6 North Street, Bedminster


1. Bertha’s Pizza
Graham Faragher of Bertha’s Pizza worked as an engineer for the McLaren F1 team before a stint in the City. He now cooks sourdough pizzas in an oven built into the back of a canary yellow Land Rover Defender. While Graham and his wife Kate look for permanent premises, you can find Bertha’s Pizza popping up at events across Bristol, including the Temple Quay market every other Thursday.
Various locations

2. Spotless Leopard
It remains a mystery as to why anyone would have objected to a business like The Spotless Leopard opening on Alma Road close to the entrance to the Clifton Down shopping centre car park. Fortunately, good sense prevailed and Louise Abel was granted her street trading license, serving only vegetarian and vegan food.
Various locations

3. Ward and Williams
At the beginning of this year, Sarah Ward and Tina Williams were working together at a small research consultancy in Bristol. You can now find the two friends ensconced in Claude, their vintage Citroen H van, serving homemade cakes and sandwiches made fresh on the van each day, and coffee from new roaster Bristol Twenty.
Narrow Quay


1. Pata Negra
The team behind Hyde & Co, Milk Thistle and The Ox have once again conjured up a new venue in Bristol that already feels as if it has been here for years. Pata Negra on Clare Street just at the end of Corn Street follows a familiar formula for anyone who knows that trio. There are mismatched lampshades, plenty of wood panelling and dapperly dressed bartenders with requisite facial hair.
30 Clare Street

2. Urban Standard
It’s amazing what you discover when stripping back years of accumulated detritus from an old building. A feature in the Urban Standard are tiles with thistle motifs, revealed during renovation work to transform what used to be an amusement arcade. There is a slight pang of recognition from the former Urban Wood on Colston Street, whose owners have upped sticks to the Gloucester Road.
35 Gloucester Road

3. The Doghouse
Cocktails here are served by staff with CVs showing experience in some of the best bars across Bristol – Hausbar, Hyde & Co, Milk Thistle and the Rummer. Open until 3am, the aim is for The Doghouse to be a venue for those slightly older (this is an over-25 establishment) can come after a few cocktails elsewhere. A DJ plays every night and customers are free to stand, sit or dance.
12 St Stephen’s Street


1. Bakers & Co
Bakers & Co is the second opening from Kieran and Imogen Waite, owners of Bravas on Cotham Hill. Where Bravas took inspiration from the tapas bars of Spain, the husband and wife team’s new venture is very much routed in the brunch culture of San Francisco. Enjoy some of the best made coffee in town and eat bread made from a 200-year-old sourdough culture originating in Lapland.
193 Gloucester Road

2. Katie & Kim’s Kitchen
They may no longer have their converted horse box, out of which they used to cook on Stokes Croft and won a national street food award in the process, but Katie Houston and Kim Glegg now have their first permanent premises, dominated by a huge wooden table, perfect for sociable eating, with a fun atmosphere provided by the sound of infectious laughter coming from the small open kitchen.
39 Picton Street, Montpelier

3. Playground
Like nothing you have ever seen before. Colourful pieces of plywood have been cut into squares and make up the floor, bar, tables and a few display cases. Chinese lanterns hang from the ceilings and an impenetrable safe can be found in one corner next to a fireplace discovered in the refit under a modern retaining wall. Oh yes, and there are swings attached to scaffolding poles.
45 St Nicholas Street

Bertha’s Pizza photo by Tim Griffiths
Pata Negra photo by Doug Jewell

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