A mid-week day off with The Boy founded an impromptu trip to Bedminster and before our intended stroll around Windmill Hill City Farm, we decided to stop for refreshments in the second branch of Grounded – the first, located on Redfield's Church Road, has proven a favourite of ours in the past and therefore we hoped that its central counterpart would live up to our expectations...
Date and Time: Wednesday 13th July 2011, 11:15am
Name of Establishment: Grounded Café/Bar*
Loaction: 66-68 Bedminster Parade, Bedminster, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Brunch in 'Bemmy' with The Boy
Upon stepping into Grounded, my first thought was that it seemed a little dark. Due to a combination of mood-lighting and the venue's décor, which is predominantly made up of deep reds and browns, it can feel a little dingy. This is a shame as the intended ambience is, in my opinion, a little lost. In 'light' of this, The Boy and I bagged the squishy looking sofa nearest the window and luckily this, in addition to the openly propped door, made for a comfortable and airy experience, (in fact, we would have occupied the venue's cutesy exterior courtyard had the overcast weather let up somewhat!) Seating aside, it can be said the space is smart and immaculately clean – the ‘period Victorian’ theme is endorsed by grandly hung Gothic-effect chandeliers and solid wooden furniture and yet, the sporadically arranged contemporary artwork (available for purchase), although funky, seems a little disjointed.
Attentions turning to our stomachs and at an hour whereby dining could only be described as 'brunch', The Boy and I ordered paninis (£4.95 each); he, his stable tuna, cheddar and sweetcorn assemblage and I, the 'breakfast panini, minus the mushroom and with a generous helping of baked beans to compensate! It can be noted here how friendly and accommodating the service is – staff behind the bar were patient with our picky panini customisation and, with a good measure of banter, engaged in conversation whilst efficiently preparing our order. Meanwhile, another chap hurriedly wiped over our already spotless table – again, with an undoubtedly sincere attentiveness.
Food arrived and was both attractively plated and well-prepared. The paninis themselves were crisp and liberally filled, each with an accompanying bistro-style salad which had been drizzled with a mustard-rich dressing. Unfortunately this was not to my taste as it proved a little strong for my palate and yet, The Boy enjoyed it’s punchy burn and finished my salad as well as his own! Each panini also had a surprise ingredient which had not been advertised on the menu; white onion had been added to the tuna, cheddar and sweetcorn combo which reportedly, had been appropriately measured to function as an accent flavour rather than inadvertently overwhelm the other good-quality ingredients. And, what constitutes the breakfast panini? Well, my additional element, (although admittedly something I asked for), were the aforementioned baked beans which had been added in all their glory to the bacon and cheddar within my panini rather than heaped on the side. The result...a satisfying, albeit messy, all-day-breakfast-style hit!
Whilst eating, I took another look at the menu in my usual 'foodie' fashion in order to suss out what I would choose in the event of a return visit. I found a good selection of tapas, fresh soup and salads as well as a vast range of stone-baked pizzas (averaging £12) which, made with genuine Italian cheese, flour and meats, are served after five-pm and can also be ordered to take away. Children are also well catered for with shelves of toys to choose from and even the option of a 'Babychino' which, consisting of frothy milk and chocolate sprinkles, is free of charge – this may explain why there were so many hyped-up toddlers running around! Furthermore, Grounded boasts a licensed bar and showcase live music in the evenings though, back to the visit at hand whereby it was a little early in the day to be thinking about alcohol. Consequently, I washed down my nosh with a 'skinny' cappuccino. This had obviously been carefully made but for me, lacked pizazz – I was surprised to discover that 'Clifton Coffee'* were the brains behind what Grounded serve as usually, this ensures a top-end 'cuppa joe'.
In conclusion, I think I prefer the Redfield Grounded, it just has that 'je ne sais quoi' that the Bedminster branch lacked. There is no questioning the high level of service and value for money though as, for how little you are hit in the pocket, the cuisine is generously portioned, tasty and delivered with a smile. In addition to this, the use of fresh, locally sourced ingredients is a plus-point and in covering all the bases, this venue indubitably offers a desirable range of cuisine to suit an array of tastes and at breakfast, noon or night! I'm not sure whether it was just the initial feel of the space that left a lasting niggling impression or that, on the day of our visit, the space was overrun with kiddies making for a playgroup-feel that ultimately led to a less-than-relaxing experience. Whatever it was, it wouldn't put me off a return visit, although next time, I will aim for an evening sitting when it is as dark outside as the venue's interior and the clientèle is a little more adult!
And now for the male opinion...
The Boy gave Grounded 8/10 and in three words chose, 'Grounded Panini Perfection'