When whispers of going out for dinner begin to circulate around a group of students, be they house or course-mates, there are several hushed responses you can bet you’ll here. Those already dancing perilously close to their overdraft will dread what they are convinced will be a hefty bill, whereas the less energetic of the bunch will always just resign themselves to a largely disappointing pilgrimage to the local chain restaurant or buffet ordeal. However, for those willing to be slightly more adventurous with their gastronomic gazing, and not settle for the usual hughstreet offerings, Bristol is brimming with opportunities to have a course or three of sterling food and drink that won’t put a permanent dent in your budget. Here are this foodie’s top three:
In a small premises loaned to them by the Crofters Rights pub in vibrant Stokes Croft is ‘Skipchen’. The name itself is something of a giveaway as to the ethos behind this cafe, which opened in late 2014 to national acclaim. Each night teams of ‘skippers’ stakeout Bristol’s restaurants and supermarkets, ready to nab any food thrown away that, although past it’s given ‘best before’ date, is still perfectly edible. This unpredictable method of food sourcing leads to a menu that changes daily, giving chefs an opportunity to seriously test their creativity and culinary ingenuity, as they work to create great plates of food from eclectic ingredients- making sure not a scrap goes to waste. Radical, systematic change to the food industry also underpins Skipchen’s business plan when it comes to serving their food, with the cafe operation a ‘Pay As You Feel’ policy. Diners are simply asked to give what they want, or can. This means that we as humble students can enjoy a wholesome meal even when our loans are dwindling. You’d be mad not to pop in.
Sky Kong Kong
So many restaurants suffer from having a staggering wide-ranging menu which more often than not leads to a general lessening of quality across the board. Sky Kong Kong, with its set menu that changes daily and offers all diners the same plates of locally sourced (much of the veg comes from owner Wizzy’s allotment), certainly does not fall foul of this pitfall. Located between Bristol bus station and the Bearpit roundabout, this tiny restaurant offers a simple dining experience of BYOB and communal tabling that feels refreshing at the end of the rush of the quotidian, and is absolutely a reminder that flashy decor and giddying variety is no match for authentic, well-crafted food. With an evening meal costing £12.50 per person, and guests encouraged to share dishes to enjoy their food together, Sky Kong Kong can provide intimacy for couples, as well as a lively communal atmosphere for larger parties.
Hidden under the alcoholic anarchy of the Commercial Rooms Weatherspoons on Corn Street is something rather special. The team behind Bristol’s most exclusive and secretive drinking dens, Hyde & Co. and The Milk Thistle, have colonised this former bank vault and opened The Ox. Meat is definitely the order of the day here and, although the main menu would spook most people’s wallets, if you can manage to secure a table between 5-7pm The Ox offers a delicious steak meal and glass of wine for a mere £12.50. Sat in amongst gleaming mahogany tables beneath decadent chandeliers, this is a dining experience that cannot be squandered, and one which fits easily within a typical university budget. One of Bristol’s hottest restaurants, understandably booking is essential, but the wait is well worth it. The Ox is, without doubt, the strongest proof that stunning food in a glorious setting is not at all beyond our ink-stained student fingertips!