A Foodie's Guide to Bristol: Top 10 Unmissable Restaurants
Bristol, capital of the Southwest, is fast becoming renowned for its high quality culinary scene. With two Michelin starred restaurants, a number of boutique eateries and a plethora of high quality venues serving international cuisine, Bristol is edging its way up the UK food chain. We’ve updated our previous city guide to bring you 10 more great restaurants serving fantastic meals in the Southwest’s most dynamic city.
Situated a mere five minute walk from Bristol Temple Meads – the city’s hub train station – Don Giovanni’s is one of Bristol’s oldest Italian restaurants. Family-owned, it is currently run by the supremely talented Andy Firetto and a crack team of chefs and waiters. While serving classic interpretations of Italian and Sicilian mainstays, with pizzas, pastas and grilled meats being plentiful, Don Giovanni’s also prepares a number of daily specials. These are created from locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Somewhat unexpectedly, Firetto also makes a syrup sponge pudding, served with ice cream, that simply cannot be beaten by any other restaurant.
Within months of Wilks’ opening, Bristol ceased to be a one Michelin star-trick pony. Opened on the sight of Culinaria – formerly owned by chef Stephen Markwick – Wilks has great culinary credentials. The a la carte menu is composed of local, seasonal ingredients, cooked to the highest standards. Whole fed Yorkshire grouse, sirloin of West Country beef and John Dory fillet are just some of the options available. For those on a budget, Wilks lunchtime menu is fantastic value, offering Thursday and Friday the choice of two courses for £21, or three courses for £23. This is a definite must-visit for all Bristol visitors.
The Rummer is a coolly sophisticated, ultra-chic restaurant that everyone should experience at least once – if they can find it. Situated a stone’s throw from Bristol’s historic St. Nicholas’ Market, the entrance to The Rummer is shrouded in heavy velvet curtains, watched by mindful door staff that prevent rowdy revellers from trying to get to the stellar bar. Mains include salted duck, gammoned pork, and fish stew, with luxurious desserts such as strawberries and cream (with trimmings) available for pudding. The Rummer’s bar stocks more than 300 premium spirits, and houses an equally impressive wine list. Come for the food, stay for the drinks.
Situated at the top of Blackboy Hill, on Upper Belgravia Road, Rajpoot appears to be more of an intimate and elegant dining room than a restaurant. Indeed, the restaurant holds no more than 10 tables, and offers a level of friendly service that is sometimes lacking in other such elegant surroundings. Food items are subtly and deliciously spiced, but you won’t find any typical Balti house curries here. Shahi lamb or chicken is one such dish, with meat cooked in a creamy sauce of crushed mangoes and served with rice. There are a selection of other dishes, as well as starters and sundries that make for a truly great Indian feast.
Dynasty – Bristol’s preeminent Chinese Restaurant and once voted third best in the country – can be found tucked away on St Thomas Street, with an entrance replicating stereotypical, historic Chinese architecture. While slightly more expensive than your average Chinese restaurant, Dynasty encapsulates all the best qualities of one nation’s cuisine. Sichuan, Peking and Cantonese specialties are served with steaming bowls of rice and noodles, guaranteed to satisfy even the hungriest diners. The main event, however, is the weekly dim sum menu, which is only available on Sunday. A plethora of delicacies – including Chinese egg custard tarts – allow for a complete taste of China.
Up until 2011, Casamia – an Italian restaurant with a Michelin star – was the only restaurant in Bristol to hold the honour. A small and inconspicuous building, the interior and furnishings change with the coming and going of the seasons. The same goes for the menu. As such, the tasting menu – and subsequent dining experience – differs entirely with each season. Casamia boasts an excellent tasting menu that takes diners on a journey through the finest local produce. The two brothers running the restaurant also have a number of prominent fans, including celebrated chef Gordon Ramsay.
Sat in Bristol’s harbourside, just off of the busy and metropolitan Union Street, Glassboat lies moored in the River Avon. The boat itself is ornately furnished, with dark wooden tables and decking, crisp white table cloths and brass furnishings on the bar. The food served is typical brasserie fare, with grilled and roasted meats, fish, and vegetable being the dish of the day. Diners can look out across the beautiful harbourside and cobbled walkways while eating. As well as an a la carte dinner menu, the Glassboat has a number of options for breakfast and lunch.
What could be nicer than a bit of Caribbean soul in the southwest of the UK? Turtle Bay, with its laid-back attitude, rustic atmosphere and simple decoration succeeds in bringing some warmer feelings to this chilly isle. The restaurant serves up classic dishes such as goat curry and jerk chicken, both of which go down exceptionally well with a glass of rum punch. Situated on Broad Quay, near Bristol’s bubbling central district, this is a perfect place to unwind after a busy day of shopping and wandering
This restaurant is one for fans of Mediterranean fare, that’s for sure. The Olive Shed, hidden away in the backstreets of Princes Wharf, is a treat for the eyes, taste and smell, and offers great views across Bristol’s floating harbour, complete with the SS Great Britain. The food, of course, draws heavily upon influences from Greece, Italy, Spain and Southern France – basically, any country that makes extensive use of this savoury fruit.
Start The Bus is two things rolled into one; a great, quirky bar, and a fantastic diner, sat bang in Bristol’s city centre. The diner menu itself is an odd mix of American and British, but it works. Diner specials are served alongside Sunday roast dinners (allegedly good enough to shame your mother). American hamburgers, replete with a huge selection of toppings to choose between, are the other menu mainstay. Start The Bus succeeds on multiple levels, with leanings towards deep South American culture, topped off with a pure shot of Bristolian vibes – a definite must eat.