It was the hottest ticket in town – a restaurant only open for four days in a dilapidated but hugely atmospheric building that in recent months has hosted pop-up shops, poi classes and art exhibitions.
Durty Gurties took over 123Space in the hinterland between Stokes Croft and Cheltenham Road with a locally-sourced menu whose food miles were sometimes measured in metres.
This wasn’t an illicit pop-up in the grand tradition of Cloak & Dinner in Quay Head House in 2010 when it was a squat before the arrival of The Milk Thistle. Think the opposite in fact, with your £18 three-course meal even being able to be paid for by card, and two cocktails for £6 available on the Wriggle app.
The pop-up was the brainchild of Bishopston-based family business Pudsey Catering, formerly of Pudsey’s restaurant in Clifton Village where the Thali Cafe is now.
They even produced this video after the first two nights:
Those nods to professionalism rather than clandestineness, however, in no way detracted from the experience.
And even if the lamb chop was a bit on the chewy side and the Jerusalem artichokes and tomatoes undercooked, this was one of the most enjoyable dining experiences I have had in Bristol this year.
The pyramid-shaped skylight within 123Space looks upwards to the area’s famous Think local, boycott Tesco graffiti by Paris. The room is dominated by a large red rose painted in one corner, with the dining room featuring communal seating mostly on long tables – the bar area in the smaller entrance lobby.
We arrived and our dapper and ever-smiling waiter swiftly showed us to our seats with a view over the road to The Arts House and Cafe Kino. We were sat on a table for four and quickly struck up conversation with the strangers sat next to us.
My bottle of beer from Bristol’s own Wiper & True and my wife’s glass of wine arrived after a little bit of a wait but the starters arrived in the blink of an eye, melted cheese served in a small hollowed-out pumpkin and trout with smoked salmon pancakes accompanied with well-seasoned salads.
For a main, vegan cottage pie was a little too spicy for my wife’s tastes. My rack of lamb was slightly too reminiscent of school dinners, especially with a side of boiled potatoes.
But those are only small niggles and the cocktails, convivial company and cool surroundings made Durty Gurties a night to remember for all the right reasons.
Keep an eye out for their next pop-up happening soon – the success of this first effort leaving many who dined and many who weren’t fortunate enough to get seats demanding a swift return.