Features: ‘Bristol’s food and drink scene is just glowing’
I’m a Bristol boy. I was born here. I grew up in Whitchurch and then we moved over to Westbury-on-Trym. The beautiful thing is that over the years I have seen everything change.
When I first started out in the food scene, I never thought that Bristol could be at the gastronomic level that it is today. Yes, we had some great restaurants back then, but now we have a lot of chef-patrons owning their own businesses. That’s what I think makes Bristol so good. People are owners of their own business and they can do whatever they want, however they want.
In Bristol, with its own special vibe, we do have this tendency to do our own thing. We take inspiration from what’s going on around the world but we predominantly do our own thing and believe in what we believe in. We make that happen within our restaurant, within our shop, within our café, within our bar.
Among the people who have come into Bristol, there is such a belief in the restaurant and dining scene. I remember having a conversation with Josh Eggleton from The Pony & Trap six or seven years ago about how pretty poor the Bristol food scene was back then. There wasn’t much to offer, there weren’t really very many places to recommend when we were asking each other where should we go to eat. Whereas now, there is just a complete bombardment and that’s a good thing.
You’re seeing the likes of Elliott at Box-E coming in from London. He is a bloody damn good chef and he opened something because he sees the potential of how beautiful Bristol can be. Bit by bit, people are coming from around the country – and then there are the Bristolians of course still doing their own thing and believing in it.
You are getting this crazy multicultural believe-in-what-we-do stick-to-our-guns, creating this scene which is just glowing.
Everybody across the country is talking about how brilliant Bristol is right now. We live in a great city and they see that. Bristol really is good everywhere, as good as London. Now people are starting to say that Bristol is actually better than London. You need to spend a few days here visiting and eating and drinking in different parts to understand what Bristol is all about.
At Casamia we always wanted to be in the heart of Bristol, the beating heart of Bristol. Having Pi Shop and Paco Tapas as well just adds to what we’re offering. We opened a pizzeria so people could come and have a wicked pizza. We opened up a tapas bar so people could come down and have wicked tapas.
I think we have got a brilliant middle market in Bristol. So where can it go next? I would like to see Bristol with ten, 15, 20 Michelin-starred restaurants. Performing on that level, with one-stars, two-stars and potentially even a three-star restaurant one day. Then you’re going to create the echoes and the ripples to the rest of the world.
If we have two and three stars within this compact area, as well as an amazing buzzing easy dining scene, that’s how it’s going to go to the next level.
I think that over the next ten years, it can happen. It’s just about everybody believing, ‘yes, I’m going to get my restaurant to that level’. It puts Bristol as even more of a destination. I’m proud to be a part of that with Casamia.
We managed to grab the national attention before everybody started talking about Bristol. To be recognised that way as part of our growing food scene is still unbelievable.
I truly believe that it will happen. 100 per cent. I know that I’m pushing it. I talk to all the other guys and I know that they’re pushing it. There’s no reason why Pasta Loco shouldn’t have a Michelin star one day. It’s that good.
And there are some other really good places. Get the consistency right, let’ prove ourselves over the next four or five years and you’re going to start seeing more restaurants getting more accolades that will put Bristol on the national and international pedestal.
We’ve got this whole buzzing dining scene going on. There will always be some places grabbing the attention, the starred restaurants, and then we have this amazing underground scene. Come to Bristol, to Casamia, the Pony & Trap, Wilks and Adelina Yard. Have a foodie weekend. And then go to other places in between and the food will be incredible. There are so many other amazing places to recommend.
Peter Sanchez-Iglesias is chef-patron at Casamia and co-owner of Pi Shop and Paco Tapas. He is also one of the panelists in EatDrink24/7, Bristol’s first ever truly independent food and drink guide.
EatDrink24/7 is a free 212-page guide being distributed to all of Bristol’s best restaurants, pubs, bars, cafes, shops and cultural venues. All next week, Bristol24/7 will be publishing some of its best content online, including a round-up of the city’s best places to eat and drink as recommended by Peter and the other panelists.
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