Best of the Brunch
I LOVE BRUNCH and as you get to know me you will become increasingly aware that I love Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Tea, Dinner and Supper. Still there is something special about Brunch so imagine my excitement when the newly reopened kitchen at Bristol Old Vic launched a revamped Brunch Food and Menu.
I always thought Brunch was a modern American thing but apparently it was first raised in print by Guy Beringer, an English writer, as early as 1895. His desire being a later meal that satisfied and tempered his hangover. Lighter food, pastries and cooked dishes accompanied by a hair of the dog if required, were the order of the day. Modern Brunch is definitely a ‘thing’, like hipsters in Brooklyn coffee shops or avocado toast. Its definitely a place to meet and socialise with good selection of hybrid dishes but before I recommend a few places its important to qualify a few ‘Brunch rules’ for Food Tour goers and laymen alike.
1. Brunch – as much as I love a pastry Brunch has to involve some sort of cooked food, most
notably eggs, probably avocado but at the very least something toasted.
2. Brunch is not breakfast and a full English eaten at 11am doesn’t qualify.
3. Brunch does not last all day – if you want brunch up to 3pm then invent another word.
I visited 1766 Bar and Kitchen on Saturday, amidst a swirl of small people bustling towards their designated theatre tour, to test a few dishes with friends from their theatrically inspired brunch menu.
The full O’Toole is their basic breakfast offering but on this occasion we chose the Mighty Macready (I should probably have asked which theatre person inspired it!) the veggie / vegan option which included halloumi, hash browns, kale and a few of the usual suspects of beans, tomatoes, egg (omit if vegan) and mushrooms.
The group’s popular choice was Tommy’s 1 pan cure; this was maybe the best bacon I’d tried and worked really well against the cheesy mashy texture with sausage and baked eggs on top. It was delicious and perfect for a Saturday morning ‘after’or as prep for later shenanigans. This doesn’t come with avocado but if I wasn’t going to test the chef with scrambled eggs (a test of all good chef’s; scrambled eggs can be glorious creamy clouds or unidentifiable road grit) I was going to have one, thankfully it was silky, seasoned and creamy and only added to the other ingredients.
There are lots of lighter bites including granola and pastries on the menu and lots of eggy dishes they teach you in catering school too, but these were the stand out dishes for me.
Coffee, the chemical I use to turn me into a passable human being was good (Clifton Coffee Roasters) but wasn’t overly fancy but ‘barista’ing is harder than it looks.
If you are as serious about Brunch then you must try….
This Stoke’s Croft beauty is a Melbourne inspired brunch cafe and lately restaurant. Its cool and a little hipster, think milk crates and recycled scaffolding plank tables but the food is absolutely lush.
I love a Proud Mary , smoked streaky bacon and poached eggs on homemade bread , burnt butter hollandaise. Every element is cooked perfectly and has masses of flavour but the burnt butter hollandaise brings the dish from the everyday brunch world to something that has that little extra.
So many choices are available but absolute must have is the Square Mile, sweetcorn fritters , smashed avo, grilled halloumi, kasundi , poached egg. Its not everywhere you get kasundi, a rich, sweet tomato ‘jam’ that brings the dish upwards to another level.
There are so many good things on the menu but I’d recommend the Hawk and Hunter Phat stacked pancakes which come in adult or small person size. They are sweet, thick and possibly good for you as there is fruit but I’m kidding really because good for you isn’t really something I do for brunch.
In pursuit of further brunchery check out….
No. 12 Easton
12 High St, Easton
They have cleverly located No12 Easton around the corner from the brilliant Sweetmart (Asian Supermarket that’s a must for every cook), so two birds are killed with one stone. I would wholly recommend the ‘Power Pork’, (a pork patty and two types of bacon with an egg) as the perfect Brunch dish but they have a wide menu that satisfies Carnivores, Vegetarians and Vegans too. Coffee is good and like all the best coffee places now comes with suitably attractive latte art.
Oak field Place, Clifton.
Off Whiteladies Road, The Lido offers food with a view, a fantastic renovated swimming pool that sits alongside a spa, restaurant and poolside ‘tapas’ area. Its a great place to go and enjoy the sun and people watch. The restaurant serves pretty good food but their Brunch is served downstairs next to the pool and on a sunny day you can convince yourself you are on holiday and enjoy the Moorish influenced tapas. My personal choice is anchovy toast. This alongside a perfect tortilla or maybe the Shahshuka is ‘Gert Lush’ to use the Bristolian vernacular. Its fishy, salty and buttery on amazing sourdough what more could you want.
Bakers & co.
193 Gloucester Rd
At the top of Gloucester Road Bakers and Co is the kind of Brunch place that is so good you need to get up early to bag a table or just chance it and whilst queueing look longingly at the San Francisco inspired goodies other earlier risers chose.
My ‘go to’ Brunch choice at Bakers is the Huevos Rancheros, I love Mexican and this is the perfect version that lifts you out of your Sunday morning slumber and sets you up for the day. They have avocado on toast too but thats the sort of thing I whip up regularly at the eatwalktalk household so I haven’t sampled it. Their version I’m told is almost as good as mine.
I will mention they were this years Bristol Good Food Awards Best Breakfast – there isn’t a Brunch award! What??
118 Whiteladies Road, Bristol.
You’ll find Tradewind at the Downs end of Whiteladies Road, a relatively new entrant to the Bristol Coffee and Brunch scene but delivers great ‘third wave’ coffee from Roasted Rituals and a solid menu for Brunchers. My personal choice here is the Eggs Royale. I have to admit to struggling with the name of the dish as being a bit of a movie buff it makes me think of Pulp Fiction for some reason.
Poached eggs, salmon and lemon hollandaise in a perfectly toasted English muffin is a fantastic combination of flavours that really lifts a conventional dish to another level. Treat yourself to a flat white, secure a table by the window and watch the world go by. You’ll thank me for it.
Brew Coffee Company
45 Whiteladies Road, Bristol.
Bristol Good Food Best Cafe Food now firmly encsconced in the former Cafe Retreat site on Whiteladies Road.
Brew Coffee Company is an epic addition to the Best of the Brunch in Bristol. Great coffee and food influenced by the owners love of Middle Eastern cooking delivers familiar yet refreshed dishes with great flavour. My personal favourite is the tomato charred bacon, poached egg and labneh.
Just clicking on their website is enough to get your mouth watering with the food menu but they are serious about their coffee too and deliver single origin coffees from Clifton Coffee Company that will make you glad you came.
Brunched – there are many other places i love and breakfast at in Bristol but these are the ones I visit most often for Brunch and are as such the ‘Best of my Brunch’, feel free to suggest any others that would be on your list and I’ll check them out in the future.