I love food. I also love ordering the weirdest sounding thing on the menu. That’s why I was in my element when our friends Kel and Lou invited us to for a weekend of eating and drinking in Bristol.
I’m still new to the Instagram way of life, so I keep forgetting to take photos of absolutely everything. You’re going to have to use your imagination for some of these dishes, but it’ll be worth it.
5:00pm Time for a drink
Our first stop was The Bristol Flyer for pre-dinner drinks. It’s a large-ish pub with a good selection of drinks from around the world, including some strangely named wines and beers (anyone for a glass of 14 hands hot to trot?) True to form, I had a rhubarb and apple drink that satisfied my need for something a little odd. And it was yummy! Always worth trying something a bit different, right?
The food menu looked just as good, and it took all my strength not to order the mac and cheese bites with a black truffle and mushroom dip. The promise of fresh Italian pasta for dinner definitely saved my willpower there!
The Flyer was remarkably busy for a Saturday afternoon. This could have been down to people wanting a quick drink on their way to watch the fireworks, or parents wanting to get out of the house with their excitable children. It honestly could have doubled as a crèche, with every table housing at least one child (except ours). The only thing that reminded us it was a Saturday night was a man wandering past in a flamenco dress, downing a pint with his fellow stags.
Overall, it’s a family and stag friendly pub with loads to choose from. A good start to the night!
6:00pm An early dinner
La Campagnuola on Zetland Road is run by a Sicilian family that serves traditional Italian dishes and drinks. The restaurant was a recommendation from some of Lou’s friends, who we were assured were also Italians that knew what they were talking about!
It’s one of those places that looks tiny from the outside, but as soon as you step in, you notice it goes back a very long way. We were the first ones in when it opened at 6pm, but after only 30 minutes, the restaurant was nearly full.
We started with drinks and a portion of calamari and focaccia. The house white wine was delicious, though I would drink anything and can’t actually tell the difference… The focaccia was just as good. A fresh topping of tomatoes, anchovies, capers and oregano made it light but enough to share around the table. And all I could ever ask from a starter, I still had room to spare for the main.
Despite my love of weird combinations (and the fact there was an amazing vegetarian pizza called Anna’s favourite), I’m a sucker for a pasta with a good cheese sauce. And that’s just what I had. Casarecce di Campagna- twists of pasta mixed with a four cheese sauce and topped with fresh rocket. I wasn’t disappointed! It was deliciously rustic with random bits of crispy cheese dotted through. I was so sad not to be able to finish- the portions are very healthy! Other dishes around the table were cannelloni, a rigatoni in tomato sauce and a pizza topped with salami and cheese. There were no complaints from anyone, so it seems you can’t really go wrong at La Campagnuola. So now it’s approved by Brits and Italians alike!
9:00pm Let’s get festive
Yes, I’ll admit it. I’m one of those people that gets stupidly excited about Christmas before it’s healthy to do so. I’m convinced I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it’s only the thought of Christmas that gets me through a dark English winter. So the bright lights and festive cheer of Bristol’s German Christmas Market cheered me up no end.
There are two bars in the Christmas market, one at each end of a stretch of gift and food stalls. We chose the bar where a musician was playing a random mix of 90s pop and German Oompah to add to that festive feeling. If you order a hot drink from the bar, they’ll give you a Christmas mug for a £2 deposit. I couldn’t say no to a mug of glühwein, and even forwent the deposit to take my snowman mug home. We took seats upstairs to enjoy the music from above while we drank our drinks before taking a look around the stalls.
Even though it was late, most of the stalls were still open. We were sadly too full to try the little pancakes, gingerbread hearts or delicious smelling flavoured nuts (even nut allergic Tim said they smelt irresistible). We honed in on a stall selling gifts and decorations all the way from Peru. Their cuddly toy alpacas were just the most adorable things I’ve ever seen, and they are now on my wish list. I came away with a tree decoration made out of a tiny, painted, hollowed-out pumpkin with a mini nativity set in the middle. I had seen something similar in a Mexican airport but had run out of pesos before I could buy it – this time it was mine! My Christmas spirit has officially started.
10:00pm Drinks at Kongs
I’m a huge fan of gimmicky bars (my favourite has to be Bounce), but this one was a little disappointing. Its point of difference is a series of arcade games dotted around the edge of the room and a table tennis table in the centre. You had to pay to use anything – understandable, I guess, but everyone loves a freebie.
The other gimmick was that you could bring your dog to the bar, and there was a guy there that took advantage of this. Now a quick plea from me – even if you are allowed to take a dog on a night out with you, please don’t do it! The poor thing looked happy enough, but you can never really tell, can you? It was just far too noisy, busy and dark, so if the owners were doing it to save their dog from being scared at home by the fireworks, they really should have just stayed in with it. Or maybe I’m just cynical.
We drank our drinks on a sofa next to the DJ, which nobody seemed to be paying any attention to. This made it too loud to really hear our conversation, so we decided to call it a night there and head back to Kel and Lou’s for drinks from the local Co-op.
11:30am Good ol’ British brunch
Brunch is, without doubt, my favourite meal of the day. It’s cost effective (two meals for the price of one if you think about it), timely (any time after 10am is just right for the first meal of the day) and delicious (you can get away with eating anything for brunch, from waffles and ice cream to poached eggs with guacamole).
Boston Tea Party is a group of cafe restaurants across England that serve wholesome, locally sourced dishes. The best thing about it is that you can order brunch at any time of day! We visited the one on Gloucester Road, which is another one of those tardis buildings that just gets bigger each step you take. We took a table out the back and had a look over the menu. I went to the bar convinced I would ask for the vegetarian breakfast, but came away having placed an order for the Sweetcorn Hash that caught my eye in the queue. And I’m so glad it did. It was the most delicious brunch I’ve ever eaten. Three sweetcorn fritters with fried halloumi, crushed avocado, spicy tomato salsa and two poached eggs on top. I still can’t get over how good it was. If it was all I could eat for the rest of my life, I’d be a very happy lady. Actually, I’d miss Thai curry too much, but you know what I mean.
It was just what we needed on a cold November morning, and would keep us going until…
1:00pm Home time
And what better way to cheer up a dreary M4 drive than with a pain au chocolat from BTP? Yes thank you, Bristol, that’ll do nicely.
What are your top food spots in Bristol? Where should we go next time?