The lunchtime sandwich trade is a lucrative business and with so many outlets to choose from, it is sometimes tempting to stick with somewhere you are familiar with. However, had I chosen one of my usual haunts for today's sunshiny lunchtime break, I probably wouldn't have ever discovered Chickpea Café…
Date and Time: Wednesday 6th April 2011, 1:45pm
Name of Establishment: Chickpea Café
Location: 1b Pitville Place, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Lunch-break in the sunshine
Tucked behind the buzz of Whiteladies Road, in the middle of Cotham Hill, Chickpea is a welcoming space which offers a menu packed with an exciting range of original and locally-sourced creations. However, the first positive aspect of my visit wasn't the food at all, it was the smiley service that I received. Staff here are as friendly as they are knowledgeable about the content of the menu, the latter being evident from the detailed answers to the questions I asked regarding the content of the dishes on offer. Everything sounded healthy and fresh so I opted to have a regular chicken and chorizo melt which, for £4.50 (plus an extra 50p to 'sit-in'), left me in anticipation of what I would be served.
Whilst dealing with a rumbling stomach, I decided to sit outside to people-watch from the front of the café, There is also a lovely little garden (which catches the afternoon sunshine) at the rear of the premises as well as the inside seating which emits a cosy vibe, brought about by the closely-set tables and cushion-scattered seating.
My melt arrived promptly and the first notable feature was the size of the portion I was given - in fact, Chickpea's owner popped out to speak to me half way through my lunch and asked if I wanted to take the rest of the melt home in a paper bag! He obviously underestimated the size of my appetite and besides, this dish was far too tasty not to finish in one. The dish consisted of a large toasted wrap, halved and overflowing with succulent chicken, thinly-sliced chorizo, salad, red onion and hummus. All the ingredients were of good quality and I learned that the hummus had been created locally by 'Naked Kitchen', explaining its satisfying, homemade consistency and taste. The wrap itself was crisp and appealing - so much better in texture than the soggy varieties you often find elsewhere! The accompanying salad was, again, a very generous portion and drizzled with a herby dressing which accented the dish perfectly. I think the only criticism I had was that there wasn't quite enough chorizo in my wrap so it's flavour was somewhat overpowered by the abundance of the other elements.
Before leaving Chickpea I couldn't help but notice the range of sweet treats available as well as their beautiful display of 'award-winning' cupcakes. I shall certainly return to sample more of what Chickpea has to offer and as they serve breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, there is plenty of time to do so. I was impressed that both savoury and sweet offerings catered for all diets with loads of options for vegetarians and vegans as well as a couple of gluten-free additions. I think what makes this café stand out is its originality and the upfront, honest delivery from counter to plate. The passion for pulling local food producers and businesses together was not only articulated but apparent from the obvious effort made to present top-quality food in a homely setting.
* Follow Chickpea Café on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=185312979190&v=info
February 2017 marks the sixth anniversary of my eating adventures and, as ever, I'm excited about what the coming months will bring for us foodies! In case this is your first visit (if not, welcome back), I'm a 30-something female with a very healthy appetite!...I promise to share with you my experience of each restaurant, café or bar in which I set foot...so, let's go out!