Style over substance: Bristol’s best restaurants?

10 Oct

As a relative newcomer to Bristol, and a massive food-lover just about finding my feet financially, I was pleased to find a Google alert titled Top 10 restaurants in Bristol pinging into my inbox a few days ago.

I didn’t expect revelations from the Bristol Evening Post piece. However, soon after noticing that the article was actually subtitled ‘Top 10 places to dine in style’ I realised I was going to get very little in the way of enlightenment.

Pointing out at that some of a city’s restaurants occupy amazing buildings is a good idea, but what purpose does it serve if discussion of the actual food served goes no further than “has won numerous awards” or “offers a seafood menu”?

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been lured into eating somewhere because of its location, interior or menu – only to be hugely disappointed by what arrives on my plate.

I love interesting architecture and good design, but somewhere selling food should stand or fall on that basis – everything else is secondary.

The place I’ve eaten more than anywhere else in my adult life is Zeugma in Sheffield. The key visual treat of a trip to this nondescript shopfront is watching a middle-aged bloke turning skewers with an expression of Zen-like calm on his face (seemingly weathered by a working life lived within centimetres of a glowing charcoal grill).

All filler, all killer: Sheffield's Zeugma consistently delivers the goods (photo courtesy of Nigel Barker).

All this is neither here nor there because the food has been consistently excellent since Zeugma opened over five years ago – so much so that the owners had to fit out a second branch a few metres down the road because the original was too busy.

Anyway, I digress – if anyone would like to offer suggestions as to where the best actual food in Bristol can be found, comment below, drop me an email or tweet at me. Might even give me some other things to rant about, down the line.

9 Responses to “Style over substance: Bristol’s best restaurants?”

  1. Bristol Bites October 10, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Mmm, not sure I agree with some of the Post’s recommendations – there are a lot of chains in there, and we’ve got some great independent places here in Bristol!

    Rupsha in Clifton Village is by far the best Indian restaurant I’ve found so far, The Runcible Spoon in Stokes Croft is a workers’ collective-owned restaurant and makes the most of what we have to offer locally. Lido is great, upstairs for a more formal meal, or downstairs in the poolside bar for tapas. And for Sunday lunches, Brace & Browns on Whiteladies Road is a must-try – they also do fantastic tapas-style dishes on other days of the week…

    • Alex October 10, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

      Yeah I totally agree – a chain is a chain, whether it’s been popped in a striking building or not. Thanks for the tips, Em. x

  2. thegirloutdoors October 10, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    St Nick’s market. Sean got me onto their amazing portuguese custard tarts which are AMAZING and only £1 xxx

    • Alex October 10, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

      Nice one Sian. Puddings haven’t been mentioned on here as much as they might have been. Where on the market can I find these tarts? x

      • thegirloutdoors October 11, 2011 at 11:29 am #

        there’s a little portuguese food stall inside – i think its by one of the doors, along from the caribbean place (also yum) xxx

  3. ajgardner October 10, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Oh my goodness – I don’t know where to start…

    The Thali Cafe & Pie Minister for cheap eats.
    The Olive Shed on the docks is perfect for tapas and a crisp white when the sun’s. shining – my favorite restaurant in Bristol.
    The Adam and Eve in Hotwells does a good Sunday roast.
    The Port of Call on Black Boy hill does a proper old fashioned roast – and has lots of board games and dodgy carpets (in a good way)
    The Bristolian in Stokes Croft does an ace fry-up
    Oh and Canteen is good too.

    Now I remember what I spent my student loan on….

    • Alex October 10, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

      Cheers Amy, that should give me plenty of scope for face-filling in the coming months. Hope you’re good x

  4. wayne October 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm #


    The Thali cafe in Easton is a nice place to eat and the food is very good. While there you can take a look around the great supermarket next door and a look at Cafe maitreya, which is just up the road. I haven’t eaten there but the menu always looks good. Thanks for the nice things you said about our place (Canteen, cardiff) and as we had the guy from the canteen, bristol, in on wednesday, i should mention that as well, although i haven’t eaten there either.



    • Alex October 21, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

      Thanks Wayne. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to call back on you guys later in the year…

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