Breakfast in Bristol: 5 of the very best
Rivalling the capital for its foodie scene, Bristol’s brunch culture is thriving
Bristol is "cool, classy and supremely creative", says The Sunday Times, which recently named it Britain's best city to live in. In doing so, it vocalised what quietly confident Bristolians already knew – that the capital of the south-west has a charming bohemian spirit built on a love for the unorthodox and a fierce defence of independent businesses.
This spirit enriches the city's food and drink culture. Breakfast means business in Bristol, whether it's buck's fizz at the harbour as paddle-boarders float by or award-winning sourdough eaten under a Victorian railway arch.
Here are some of the best in the city:
Tucked away underneath Temple Meads station, Harts Bakery has become a local institution since it opened in 2012. Often tricky for newcomers to find, the divine smell of freshly baked cakes, bread and pastries is as good a guide as any.
You'll find local commuters "stockpiling croissants" ahead of their "smug saunter past the station Starbucks", says Time Out, while large, communal tables cater for those who prefer a more leisurely breakfast, especially on a Saturday.
The open kitchen reveals bakers hard at work, kneading, rolling and shaping dough at impressive speed. And the star of the gluten show is the sourdough. Order "anything" in which it appears, recommends The Guardian.
Spoke & Stringer
Yet this cafe-cum-surf shop adds a sophisticated twist to most brunch staples. In place of the humble steak and egg, you'll be offered seared beef, duck egg and parmesan polenta chips. And if you fancy American pancakes with maple syrup, expect caramelised fig, mascarpone and toasted pecans, too. The results are impressive, even if the service is slow at times.
Not that this deters the many diners who feast here. There seems to be an unspoken consensus that if you are going to watch the world float by – quite literally given its harbourside location – there are few spots as desirable as this one. Spoke & Stringer is the go-to place for breakfast in the sun, as its colourful Instagram account attests.
Home to Upfest – the largest graffiti art festival in Europe – North Street has morphed into the city's largest urban canvas. One of its crown jewels is Souk Kitchen, a venue that feels as effortlessly trendy as its surroundings.
For the past three years, it has been crowned best Mediterranean restaurant at the Bristol Good Food Awards, a title that reflects its Middle Eastern and North African influences. Its signature brunch dish is shakshuka, a sweet, tomato-based baked egg recipe infused with aromatic spices and served with traditional flatbread.
Though Souk Kitchen is renowned for its exotic cuisine, it also makes good use of local and seasonal produce. "The local", for example, features Gloucester old spot sausages, bacon from a farmhouse in Wiltshire and bread from the Marks bakery around the corner.
Bakers and Co
Bakers and Co has become something of an institution since it opened on Gloucester Road in 2014.
From the same team behind the award-winning Bristol tapas joint, Bravas, Bakers and Co offers both a cosy inside dining room and a perfect al-fresco outdoor area for brunch during the sunnier months.
The inspiration for the cafe came from the vibrant, farm-to-table foodie scene the founders discovered during their travels around San Francisco.
On the menu is a great selection of brunch items to choose from, whether you want to be healthy or indulgent, with fantastic speciality coffees from Extract Coffee Roasters, all made in a deluxe la Marzocco coffee machine and topped with organic Ivy House milk. All the food is made from scratch, on the premises and features quality local produce.
Fellow cafe owner Elly Curshen, author of Fast Days and Feast Days, told The Daily Telegraph that Bakers and Co is a “real Bristol favourite”.
“Curshen recommends huevos rancheros, baby Dutch pancakes with globe artichoke, avocado and scrambled egg, and chia seed and almond breakfast bowls with granola, turmeric soaked apricots and yogurt,” says the paper.
"If you can find someone with a bad word to say about the Primrose, they've probably never lived in Bristol", says Time Out of this cherished cafe-cum-bistro.
Run by the same family for almost 25 years and located in picturesque Clifton, the Primrose Cafe is certainly a local institution. The food doesn't reinvent the wheel, but the menu is packed with brunch classics: a scrambled egg and smoked salmon bagel for example, or bacon with maple syrup.
Boasting of its "perfectly-positioned sun-trap", Primrose is also proud of its people-watching credentials. With a steady flow of customers heading to greengrocers Reg the Veg or watching the buskers outside the neighbouring deli, Primrose is at the heart of village life.