Food Safari

A taste of the South West: touring Bristol’s leading food hangouts

Follow our safari of Bristol’s best dishes to find out why it’s one of the UK’s leading food destinations.

14 January 2020
meatprovenancerestaurantssustainabilityvegetarian
image credit: Birch

Welcome to the seventh Food Spark self-guided safari, where we’ll lead you along a carefully curated route, visiting Bristol’s on-trend food hotspots to keep your finger on the pulse.

As well as breaking down the facts, we’ll take you to six Brizzle food institutions making waves in the city. We highlight why each spot is interesting and what you should try when you visit this eclectic range of must-eat venues.

You could take our word for it and digest these gems on-screen, but it’s more fun – and a lot more delicious – to taste their food first-hand.

Buzzing Bristol

Bristol is arguably one of the UK’s most interesting and vibrant food cities. Boasting the most Michelin stars outside of the capital, it was recently named the world’s best culinary destination by the World Food Travel Association. The hospitality industry is notoriously tough and this South West city is no exception; but some of the city’s leading pioneers, many of whom cut their teeth in London, are setting the food agenda and attracting national and international attention.

Bristol’s dining scene is dynamic and unpretentious, fiercely independent and supported by locals. From British small plates to home-cooked Korean, one theme holds our hitlist together and that is a dedication to local produce and high-quality ingredients. This hand-picked range of delectable destinations reflects the current and emerging stars of the city’s food scene.

1st stop: Wilson’s

Address: 24 Chandos Road, Bristol BS6 6PF

Style: Farm-led holistic dining

About: This small, independent bistro has been growing its produce since 2016 and now has its own farm in nearby Barrow Gurney, where all the kitchen fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers come from. Their ‘no dig’ farming approach ensures regeneration of the soil and a tightly curated menu showcases the very best of what can be grown in the local area.

What to order: The set menu (eight courses for £50) changes regularly depending on the seasons. Their dish of 2019 was partridge and smoked eel, charred January King cabbage and bone broth.

Travel to 2nd stop: Walk 19 minutes, drive five minutes, or get the number 9 bus from Ermleet Road to Cotham Side and walk nine minutes to Poco Tapas Bar.

 

2nd stop: Poco Tapas Bar

Address: 45 Jamaica Street, Bristol BS2 8JP

Style: Real food with a conscience

About: Poco was awarded Most Sustainable Restaurant in 2016 and 2018 by the Sustainable Restaurant Association. I was also featured in National Geographic’s top five UK restaurants for cutting down on food waste. They weigh rubbish daily and compost or recycle 95-100% of it, while most of their ingredients come from community farms, with seasonal veggies taking centrestage and used in their entirety. Head chef Tom Hunt launches his second book, Eating for Pleasure, People and Planet, in March 2020 and founded Forgotten Feast roaming food waste restaurant.

What to order: Hand-dived Devon scallop with spring onion butter and smoked roe mayo is a must, as is the Portland crab toast with cucumber, Edible Futures leaves and wild fennel.

Travel to 3rd stop: Walk seven minutes to Sky Kong Kong.

 

3rd stop: Sky Kong Kong

Address: 2, Haymarket Walk, Bristol BS1 3LN

Style: Supper-club-style organic Korean

About: A homely cafe in an unassuming location, Sky Kong Kong has a ‘make do and mend’ philosophy, from turning wasted ingredients into pickles, to a mismatched, eclectic interior. Rotating seasonal menus are built around whatever’s peaking in the allotment, and although meat and fish do feature, vibrant vegetables are the focus.

What to order: Slow-cooked beef short rib is perfection, and don’t forget the Korea-meets-Bristol sides like burdock kimchi.

Travel to 4th stop: Walk one minute to Flow.

 

4th stop: Flow

Address: 8A, Haymarket Walk, Bristol BS1 3LN

Style: Innovative and inclusive plant based

About: Head chef and owner Jen Williams has been cooking up Flow’s creative vegan and vegetarian dishes since 2016. Locally produced and foraged ingredients steer the menu, which is made up of small plates, encouraging casual family-style feasting.

What to order: Don’t miss the moreish fried spring onions with tangy blood orange, pomegranate sauce and toasted walnut crumb.

Travel to 5th stop: Walk 22 minutes, drive 15 minutes, or get the number 39 bus and walk 10 minutes to Box-E.

 

5th stop: Box-E

Address: 10, Cargo 1, Bristol BS1 6WP

Style: Cosy, cool modern British

About: City development has provided new opportunities in up-and-coming areas, and Box-E is a delicious example established in shipping containers in Wapping Wharf. There are only 14 seats, all with a prime view of the kitchen, as well as a smaller table offering a bespoke tasting menu. Cooking is defined by seasonality, quality ingredients and collaborations with the best local producers.

What to order: The current star of the menu: roasted celeriac with multi-award winning White Lake goat’s curd, chilli, sesame and edible shoots from the restaurant planters.

Travel to 6th stop: Walk 13 minutes or drive six minutes to Birch.

 

6th stop: Birch

Address: 47 Raleigh Road, Bristol BS3 1QS

Style: Your ideal neighbourhood bistro

About: The original owner of Birch worked at renowned London restaurant St. John and firmly established the genius loci philosophy (the spirit of place), which still shines through operations today. South Bristol locals return again and again for the great value lunchtime set menu (three courses for £20), a la carte small plates and notorious Sunday roast. Only the best local ingredients will do: dairy produce comes from Cook and Churn, fish from S&J Fisheries and coffee from Extract.

What to order: Crispy pork belly with burnt apple puree, black pudding and spinach is a keeper on the menu and the perfect winter warmer.

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