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!


Saturday, 27 August 2011

All in One Bar and Restaurant – Park Street, Bristol

I've discovered that authentic Greek cuisine is rather difficult to come by in Bristol, proving somewhat overshadowed by the multitude of alternative food genres which exist centrally within in each and every postcode. However, a couple of years ago, I stumbled upon All in One during an impromptu Park Street bar crawl; a bar-come-restaurant which although upon first look may be cast off as just another teeny- bopper's hang-out, really ticks all the boxes when it comes to its home-made Hellenic fare. Consequently, on a particularly grey Tuesday within the height of the supposed British Summertime, I sought refuge in the form of its laid-back holiday vibe (so rarely perfected in good old Blighty) and more importantly, cheered myself up with something sweet, indulgent and fundamentally reminiscent of some of the best Summer holidays I've had to date...

Date and Time: Tuesday 23rd August 2011, 14:30
Name of Establishment: All in One Bar and Restaurant
Location: 46 Park Street, Bristol
Reason for Visit: A pick-me-up to counteract the grey skies overhead and my (equally as grey) mood.

With a Cypriot owner who has influenced the menu with a host of Mediterranean (primarily Greek) classics alongside a friendly team who go out of their way to welcome you into their fold, it's no wonder that All in One appears to be thriving amidst the difficulties of the current climate. In fact, a little background research led me to discover that All in One has occupied it's mid-way Park Street spot since 1979 – the photographic time-line, archived on their website, nostalgically celebrates this venue's evolution through the decades which suggests to me that there is certainly something, perhaps the passion of those behind the establishment, that maintains its popularity with Clifton's allusive residency. Back to the visit at hand and following the major refurbishment, initiated during the Summer of 2009, the space is fresh and contemporary; decked out with primary colours and accented with solid wooden furniture and comfortable seating. The MTV-inspired soundtrack plays subtly in the background (and flickers from wall-mounted flat screens) and the floor-to-ceiling windows, folded open in good weather, make for a light and airy ambiance as well as an opportunist spot for watching the world go by!

On to the food and I'll start with my particular order; warmed baklava (£4) which, coupled with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream, was effetely packed with nuts, drizzled with honey and sandwiched between flaky layers of filo pastry, just delicious! This is one of my favourite Greek desserts and thus, upon first spotting it on the menu (around Midnight on that first visit) ordered it straight away. Nowadays, it isn’t actually advertised and you have to ask your server for it; after all, it is in my opinion, one of Park Street's best kept secrets! On a savoury note, I can report that dishes are home-made, amply plated and great value for money; with lunchtime portions coming in at around £5 and evening meals roughly £9. To start, I love the tasty simplicity of warmed pitta with Greek-style dips (£3.90); traditional home-made taramasalata, houmous and tzatziki. When it comes to main courses, for me, the Moussaka steals the show proving hearty and flavoursome – a Greek national dish made from layers of potato, aubergine, mince meat and herbs, it's finished with bechamel sauce, grated cheese and oven-baked, (for the record, I am also told that the vegetarian alternative is equally as well received). Other specialities include Kleftiko (lamb shank), Souvlaki and Stifahdo – the latter, a Greek version of a beef casserole with onions, tomatoes and herbs, cooked in red wine and served with either rice or salad. Please note that I can only speak to the Greek dishes as I've never actually experienced the cuisine past this point – that said, there is an extensive selection available including paninis, filled jackets, omelettes and steaks. As an added bonus, a full menu is served until 3:00am across the weekend – certainly a superior upgrade to one's post-drinking munchies?!

To wash this down, all the usual suspects as well as a great range of tipples. Back to that original bar-crawl and I can report that cocktails, costing £6.20 for two as part of a happy hour (which incidentally, extends way beyond its suggested 60-minute remit), includes all the favourites as well as a couple of original creations. The cheekily -coined 'Pop my Cherry' combines Smirnoff Vodka, cherry syrup, cola and a squeeze of fresh lemon resulting in a retro cherry-cola kid's classic with a noticeably boozy twist! OK, so they're not overly professional in terms of their presentation but in fact, adding to that aforementioned holiday vibe, cocktails are sometimes adorned with sparklers, miniature paper parasols and..erm, parrots...but true to form, they are also generously measured and really very drinkable – can't say fairer than that!

So there are a couple of low points...hot drinks are made with whole milk and so, if like me you can't stomach dairy at this volume and normally opt for a skinny or soya alternative, you will ultimately find yourself un-catered for! Secondly, the children's menu is rather uninspiring featuring that tried and tested classic; chicken nuggets, chips and beans! However, that said, the pros clearly outweigh the cons here and just as the website suggests that All in One is an 'ideal venue for all occasions', I would be inclined to agree. On this particular visit, I only popped in for baklava but felt comfortable enough to set up camp for a good couple of hours with a book (punctuated, if I'm honest, by a spot of Facebook browsing courtesy of the free WiFi connection). I've also enjoyed several suitably tasty meals with The Boy. Lastly, I've visited on numerous occasions with pals, drunkenly sipping cocktails and playing Jenga (I challenge you to find the branded 'Sam-Fraggle' brick). Furthermore, you can't help but feel at ease considering this venue's accreditation from Best Bar None for its recognition as one of the safest nightspots in the Bristol area . Overall, an honest, family-run business which delivers great customer service and top-notch cuisine (perhaps comparable to dishes you may find elsewhere but undoubtedly better value for money); it may not be an obvious choice but trust me, if you love Grecian nosh, you simply have to give All in One a try, at least in its capacity as an established, well-run restaurant – Yamas!
Ode to a Grecian...Dessert!

References:

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Square Club Wine Fayre - Berkeley Square, Bristol

I’d previously been a little apprehensive about visiting The Square Club which, situated on Clifton’s Berkeley Square alongside its boutique hotel of the same name, always seemed rather too exclusive for little old me! Yet, when my social networking addiction led me to discover the upcoming Wine Fayre and Aussie-style barbecue in their ‘lower-deck’ cocktail bar (at a mere £10 a ticket), I just couldn’t resist shunning this preconceived concept of being a square peg in a round hole and instead, decided to work outside the box….!

Date and Time: Thursday 18th August 2011, 19:00
Name of Establishment: The Square Club*
Location: 15 Berkeley Square, Clifton, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Wine Fayre attendance with the Girls!

Entering The Square Club through the hotel’s plush reception area and being at once led through the lounge and kitchen to the top of the spiral staircase (which, we discovered, descended to the ‘lower desk’), it became increasingly apparent how a touch of luxury had been consistently ensured. Grand, lofty and ornately decorated this venue, as well as exhibiting art work (hosting collections from over fifty artists since 2007 to be exact), instantly oozes elegance which, transcending to the cocktail bar below, brought about a feeling of entering various pockets of decadence. Pockets, we found, that were rather different from one another as although upstairs constituted careful minimalism, downstairs clearly eschewed this in favour of an Aladdin's cave of textiles in an overwhelming array of colours; colours which, richly striped against each-other and bathed in a reddish-glow, indulgently underpinned all aspects of the space. Furthermore, heavy velvet curtains contrasted the delicate draped silk overhead and the odd chaise longue had been temptingly arranged amidst other appropriately lavish furniture. Plump cushions had been dotted about the place as had copies of glossy ‘Lansdown Links’ magazine which, intended for the 'discerning affluent reader'* somewhat facilitated the initial posing of the classy versus pretentious debate; hence, were we a little out of our depth here after all? With that aside and a little more curiosity-driven exploration under-way, I enjoyed the oddity that here, Judy Finnegan identifies the ladies' loos and Johnny Cash the gents – how these two figures are in any way related is beyond me, answers on a postcard perhaps…! From here and despite the rain, I just had to check out the terrace which has been recently voted 'the best outside dining in Bristol' and proved an angular, intricately textured space with plenty of spot-lit nooks and crannies in which to chill. Although to avoid actual chill, you can borrow a blanket from the bar under which to snuggle up to your loved one(s) - lovely!

The wine tasting itself was great fun; casually arranged so that one could saunter up to the table and liaise with an expert regarding regions, grapes and palatability. It was here that the aforementioned question of pretentiousness came to a head as, despite a handful of the clientèle proving a little aloof, the welcoming nature and overall friendliness of the staff made the girls and I feel at ease. Thus, even the most uninformed of vino-related musings were met with a smile and an encouraging explanation as opposed to a 'what do you know' kind-of scoff! With that in mind, I think it's fair to say that the New Zealand Sparkler (Lindauer Brut NV, Gisborne) was the star of the show for me with its tiny crisp bubbles and fruity-come-acidic twang, although the Stonier Chardonnay (2009 - Mornington Peninsula Australia) came a close second. The girls both enjoyed the Wither Hills Sauvignon Blanc (2010 – Marlborough, New Zealand) with its host of fruity vibrancy; in particular, its gooseberry tartness. With all this Antipodes action going on, the table of wines from elsewhere in the world hardly got a look in and yet, I simply had to sample the only rosé within the twenty-strong line up. The Chateau St Baillon Rosé Reserve (2010 – Provence, France) was the dainty colour of rose petals but with a dry bite that clung to the palate (but in a good way I can assure you!) Elsewhere, it was suitably noted that the cocktail menu offers a great range of creations averaging £6 each; classics such as the Bramble, Manhattan and 'the nation's favourite' Mojito as well as some imaginatively put-together concoctions which, listed under 'Square Club Blends and Bartender's Favourites', included the Sosho Cooler which shakes Finlandia Mango Vodka with muddled grapes, passion-fruit, dry white wine, fresh lime and apple juice – oh, yes please!

On to the food and to soak up the wine consumption (as unsurprisingly albeit unprofessionally, few people opted to use the spittoons!) barbecued skewers of meat, fish and vegetables were amply plated and served. Featuring prawns, scallops, rump steak and spiced chicken alongside grilled peppers, aubergine, cherry tomatoes and juicy mushrooms, these were delicious and certainly suggested the quality of the upstairs cuisine. Whilst we're on the subject of food, the girls and I couldn't help but drool over the advertised tapas-style baby plates (reasonably priced at three for £12) which you can enjoy in the bar or out on the terrace; I particularly liked the sound of 'cheddar cheese and leek fritters with cider sauce' as well as 'brochettes of chicken with a mint and lime yogurt dip' – yum! Meanwhile the live jazz singer was in full swing - for me, her soulful tone seamlessly blended into the buzz of the space which although suggested that the ethos of this venue had been perfectly identified and adhered to, also resulted in the performance itself being a little lost.

With the evening drawing to a close, the girls and I were unanimously complimentary about this venue with its exciting exclusivity and indulgent décor. Overall though, it was the value for money that really provided the wow-factor as we were actually astounded how generously we had been wined, dined and entertained considering the events marginal £10 price tag as well as our monetary-related preconceptions regarding this calibre of establishment. I'm not sure that I would fork out £200 a year to be a member (despite the wealth of offers and benefits that this bestows to you) but I will certainly keep my eye out for further events at The Square Club – not to mention return for the tasty tipples and food stuffs that have caught my eye...And so, after a good night all round, I couldn’t help but conclude that I may be a square peg but incidentally, I fit perfectly within what turned out to be an entirely square hole?!

And now for the girls' opinion....
They gave The Square Club 8/10 and in three words, chose 'fun boozy BBQ'!

References:
*http://www.lansdownplace.co.uk/  
Quote taken from 'Lansdown Links' Facebook page – you can also follow the publication on Twitter @LDLMagazine 
 

Monday, 15 August 2011

Mud Dock Café – The Grove, Bristol

Friday night with The Boy and his family and a venue which I have only visited thus far for afternoon drinks; enjoyed overlooking the river from the sunshiney exterior terrace. Yes, I'm referring to the Mud Dock Café, an eclectic space whereby, on account of the website, the menu has 'evolved and expanded over time'; offering an ever-changing menu which, facilitated by fresh and often locally-sourced ingredients, underpins its globally-inspired cuisine. This certainly sounded impressive and so, with a table booked, anticipation of a Friday-night feast saw us through the week...

Date and Time: Friday 12th August 2011, 20:30
Name of Establishment: Mud Dock Café
Location: 40 The Grove, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Civilised family outing with The Boy and his clan!

Climbing the spiral stair-set to the restaurant, exposed to the elements and heels clanking on the metalwork, I think it's fair to say that the 'industrial chic' theme of this venue is obvious from the onset. Reinforced within its interior, raw materials constitute this venue's décor in a big way. Furniture is either scrap-yard-style metal or solid wood; neither of which is particularly comfortable but charming with a quirky minimalism which also transcends to the airy ambiance of this space, largely created, in my opinion, by the circular floor-to-ceiling window which proved the focal point for our visit. In light of the downstairs 'Bike Shed', artefactual bicycles are suspended from the ceiling which, coupled with the trains of fairy lighting makes for an intriguing combination. I felt somewhat in awe of this offbeat domain and, increasingly so when we were introduced to our server for the evening...Now, as a rule I never explicitly name the servers who happen to grace my experience of a particular venue but, what I will say is that the chap who waited our table on the evening in question was spot-on in terms of his rapport with our group. Charismatic and friendly, he answered our (many) questions knowledgeably as well as injecting a sense of humour into the proceedings – even finding a mislaid cardie for The Boy's mum to sit on so that she would be more comfortable, (above and beyond the call of duty indeed...)

Attentions turning to the menu saw The Boy returning from the other side of the restaurant with a photograph of the specials/set-menu board so that we wouldn't all have to make a similar trek – genius! With a mixed bag of orders spanning all three menus (the à la carte, set menu – whereby two courses amounted to £10.95 and the specials) successfully with the kitchen we snacked on bread and olives and supped our particular poisons, in my case a large glass of the Colombard-Chardonnay (£4.80, or £13.95 a bottle). On the subject of tipples, it's worth noting here that there is an extensive selection of wines, beers and ciders available including local varieties (such as Bath Ales and Bath Ciders Bounders) and their European counterparts, (such as Denmark's Tuborg and German Paulaner Wheat Beer). However, when it came to the cocktail menu, The Boy's sis and I were a little disappointed as, despite the lengthy (cycling-related) synopsis provided for each, the end result was an amateur-looking creation in a half-pint J2O glass which, on first sip was overwhelmingly sweet – this was 'The Breakaway' (£5.50) which combined Archers, Vodka and Cranberry Juice...yes a Woo Woo in disguise and unfortunately not a great one either!

So, the website warns diners to anticipate a 20-30 minute wait on food but that didn't stop our stomachs from rumbling until the starters made their timely entrance. Highlights included the beautifully-presented bruschetta which was successfully crisp and generously topped with smoked chicken, stilton and apple, (an unusual combination that reportedly, worked very well).This was in addition to the fish cakes which, although on first look appearing a little burnt, were packed with salmon, panga and green chillis resulting in a wonderfully flavoursome bite! It is also to be commended here how generously they had been portioned; served alongside a fresh leafy salad and sweet-chilli dip. With this in mind, the tomato soup, albeit thickly textured and tasty, was arguably a low point, proving rather an unimaginative addition to the menu given that the dishes offered alongside it featured such a comprehensive assortment of ingredients.
Tomato Soup
Salmon and Panga Fish Cakes









Main courses followed another prolonged interval and I was more-than-relieved when my Thai-spiced chicken breast was put down in front of me. Nestled within a sea of noodles, the meat was well-seasoned and moistly textured. However, the noodles themselves, although wonderfully flavoured with coriander and the zing of lemongrass, were rather soggy; slathered in coconut cream and consequently, difficult to eat (well, without getting oneself into a mess anyway!) I understand that this sloppy coupling was perhaps intended to counteract the sometimes distinguishing dryness of chicken but in actual fact it was simply not necessary in this case and therefore, the noodles could have been stickier and more appealing as a result. Other diners opted for the steak which, accompanied with a handful of chips and a smear of pureed veg proved a little lacking for its £16.95 price tag and the Linguine which almost had too much going on; the feta cheese, in particular overpowering other elements and giving the dish a heavy (not to mention, salty) finish. That said, it wasn’t all bad and indubitably the winner of the evening was the sea bass (£16.75) which, ordered from the specials board, was described as ‘faultless’ by its recipient. Creatively plated both in terms of its arrangement and its content, the fish itself was beautifully cooked and bordered with a half-moon of sliced chorizo, (which, incidentally, I just had to sample!) However, it was the perfectly structured mashed-potato base layer that proved the fundamental talking point as it had been accented with a form of seaweed which textured its otherwise creamy consistency as well as adding a certain ‘je ne sais pas’!
Thai-Spiced Chicken Breast
Sea Bass









It had become rather late to opt for desserts but nevertheless, we decided that it wouldn't hurt to order a couple to share, (cue, a frantic dash for dishes to be set in front of each member of our party!) The Mud Pie (£4.95) was an obvious choice for me (my step-by-step programme with chocoholics anonymous should commence any day now!) and proved successfully rich, gooey and, of course, chocolaty. Hazelnuts balanced the intensity of the cocoa-hit and added a satisfying crunch to its texture. Furthermore, the vanilla ice cream was of a good quality and yet, I was pretty full-up by this point and for once, glad that I hadn’t kept this indulgence to myself! Others divvied-up ice cream of varying flavours (which our chatty waiter had reeled off from memory) - the lemon sounded especially tempting and, it was noted that both the strawberry and rum and raison were very well-received, not to mention attractively presented.
Ice Cream with Flair!
'Mud Pie'









In conclusion, there were some aspects of my evening at the Mud Dock Café that I thoroughly enjoyed; namely, the service, the venue's overall quirkiness and, of course, the company! The fare seemed a little hit and miss in places and unfortunately, with the exception of the sea bass, did not overly wow our group. Don't get me wrong, there wasn't anything drastically flawed with our orders; it was just that the culmination of a pretty hefty bill did not seem to reflect the cuisine that we had received. I commend eateries that offer a focused line-up of well rehearsed dishes although I would suggest that here, the balance is not quite right – with menus scrawled on chalkboards in differing locations and some dishes falling victim of having too much going on whilst others seem rather bland in comparison. I would return to this venue as, in particular, I found the friendly ambiance of the space inviting – it was suitably buzzing for a Friday night and so, I wondered if the evening our table had experienced could be written-off as a blip. Perhaps I will investigate this on another occasion but I certainly won’t be deviating from the set menu in future as for £30 a head, I think I’d rather dine somewhere where quality doesn’t fluctuate quite so much…

And now for the male opinion...
The Boy gave Mud Dock Café 7/10 and in three words, described his experience as 'bicycles, banter and (sea)bass!'

References:
NB. Food photography courtesy of The Boy - thank you!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Chin! Chin! Bar and Kitchen – St. Michael's Hill, Bristol


Although the date had been settled upon for the next nosh and natter meet-up with the Best Foodie Friend (BFF), the venue had not. Cue an opportunist online deal which brought the umming and ahhing to an abrupt halt – a starter and main course, plus a glass of wine each, at Chin! Chin! Bar and Kitchen for a mere £21. It was a no brainer really, especially as this visit would constitute the first for both the BFF and I, thus, excitingly deviating beyond the tried and tested to a portion of Bristol which until now, had remained somewhat unexplored...

Date and Time: Tuesday 9th August 201, 19:30
Name of Establishment: Chin! Chin! Bar and Kitchen*
Location: St Michael's Hill, Bristol
Reason for Visit: Dinner-date with the BFF

Stepping in to Chin Chin Bar and Kitchen after the tiring ascent from the foot of St. Michael's Hill was rather a relief. This is an instantly welcoming space – friendly, comfortable and intimately arranged. The well-thought-out décor couples sophistication with an element of shabby-chic finesse whereby classically swirled wallpaper, canvassed art and scatter cushions underpin the reds, pinks and golds of its colour scheme. The attention to detail also extends to the lighting and background euphonies – I loved the branched red fairy lighting overhead which, paired with candlelight, made for a subdued glow, (in fact so subdued that my photographs came out rather grainy as you will see later!) The tinkling jazz, muddled with the buzz from a full-house of diners, completed the chilled-out ambiance and had the BFF and I picking out tracks that we recognised - "Rose Rouge" by St. Germaine (from 'Serendipity'; one of my favourite chick flicks) was my input to this conversation. Anyway, I digress…

Onto the food and after settling on a glass of the house white each, The BFF and I decided upon the content of our two-course feast from the bistro-style menu, (feast being the operative word as I will shortly explain). In true mutually-minded foodie-friendship, both the BFF and I started with the soup of the day which was a rather sizeable portion to say the least – steaming hot, thickly textured and supplemented with not one, but two hunks of warmed sour dough. However, described by our server as simply, Provençal Tomato, this did not disclose its other cardinal ingredient...an ample measure of chilli which, alongside the deep richness of fresh tomato, gave this dish an unmistakable kick! Tending to avoid anything spicy, the BFF struggled a little (which subsequently, supported the notion of incorporating this element into the title of the dish) but I loved the punchy heat which warmed the palate long after our dishes had been cleared.
Provençal Tomato (and Chilli) Soup
When it came to main courses, we were again overwhelmed by how generously they had been plated and yet, not to the detriment of their presentation as both dishes were intricately built and hence, enjoyed visually before even a mouthful had been taken. I had opted for the confit of duck leg which, tender beneath its tasty skin, had been topped with crisped bacon and black cherry compote. The contrasting flavours here were perfectly executed; the bitter-sweet of the fruity glaze complimenting the subtle saltiness of the meat. Fluffy ‘bacon-roasted’ potatoes, shredded cabbage and thick carrot batons were ample accompaniments although, in my opinion, would have benefited from a greater measure of gravy or jus. The BFF was more-than-happy with her braised shin of beef which, beautifully textured, just fell off the bone. She suggested that the potatoes were a little under-seasoned and yet, salt and pepper had been brought to the table, (coalesced in an espresso cup and saucer which I considered a quirky touch). That aside, she loved the caramelised onions which she found nestled in the crook of the shin bone as, in her view, they added an extra dimension to the dish; an obvious sweetness to counteract the fundamentally earthy notes brought about by the meat and the vegetables. Finally, her main had been had been capped with a humongous Yorkshire Pudding resulting in the BFF having to admit defeat – a rare occurrence by her own admission!
Confit of Duck Leg
Shin of Beef


Feeling satisfied and full, the BFF and I had originally decided against dessert and yet, a mere five-minute breather was all it took in which to change our minds. I blame the fantastic line-up on offer for this blatant dent in our willpower, in particular, the ‘House Signature’ double chocolate brownie which incidentally we ordered…to share! This was divine with just the right balance of warm, gooey chocolate under a (uniquely) thick, crunchy lid. Crème Fraiche was an ideal accompaniment due to its neutral twang which brought out the richness of the dark chocolate to perfection – ice cream can sometimes prove hard-going alongside this dessert and hence, this modification made for a refreshing alternative.

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening at Chin! Chin! and judging from the content chatter filling the space for the duration of our visit, I think it’s fair to say that the feeling was unanimous. Given that this venue has been open less than a year, it has indubitably rooted itself in the community with its exceptional cuisine; offering pub portions at restaurant quality. It's this, along with the cosy, home-from-home feel which, accentuated by the friendly, accommodating nature of the staff, which makes for a truly top-notch evening. In fact, observe this venue in its former glory on Google Maps (street view) just to see how far it’s come! In conclusion, initially lured by a tempting online discount, I have once again stumbled upon another of Bristol’s foodie gems. Furthermore, in regards to the deal itself, the BFF and I were delighted to discover that there were similar arrangements in place on a regular basis. Coined as the ‘Early Bird’ deal, two courses and a glass of wine comes in at just £10 from Tuesday to Saturday, 5:00pm - 6:45pm which, in addition to the set ‘Pre-Theatre Menu’ offers the venue's fantastic fare at particularly reasonable prices. And so, as the old saying goes, this early bird will certainly catch the worm, in other words…I will most certainly be back!

And now for the second opinion…
The BFF gave Chin! Chin! Bar and Kitchen a rating of 9/10 and in three words described her experience as, ‘generous’, ‘cosy’ and ‘relaxed’.

References:

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Bristol Zoo Gardens' Wow! Gorillas...Nearby Foodie Favourites


Friendly gorilla faces and nearby foodie places!

As soon as the sixty-strong suite of colourful primates took hold of Bristol’s City Centre (and surrounding areas), marking 175 years of Bristol Zoo Gardens, The Boy and I excitedly took up our maps and got to hunting! In a similar fashion to trailing King Bladud’s Pigs in 2008 as well as the Lions of Bath in 2010, we set off regressing to childhood whereby we eagerly collected pogs ‘n Pokémon determined to ‘catch ‘em all’! Fuelled by many a tasty pit stop and even the odd cheeky tipple or two, I became inspired to round up a selection of the best eateries and watering holes existing in close proximity to each gorilla...I’m not suggesting that you stop at them all (we certainly didn’t, hence why I enlisted the help of some knowledgeable foodie friends) but perhaps it may encourage you to try somewhere new even after the gorillas have moved on. Furthermore, there had to be something to show for the fact that The Boy and I actually found, and photographed all sixty, (yes, we even went to Birmingham!)

Date and Time: 6th July – 7th September 2011
Name of Event: Wow! Gorillas courtesy of 175 years of Bristol Zoo Gardens
Location: Bristol and…erm, Birmingham!
Reason for Participation: A pair of ‘collectomaniacs’ on a mission!

1. ‘The S Express’ at Narrow Quay
Recommendation: The Arnolfini Café/Bar is an obvious choice and a great starting point given that they open daily at 10:00am and serve a decent cup of coffee alongside the daily papers and free Wi-Fi. The weekend brunch menu is not to be missed and, inspired by rustic Italian food, their main menu is packed full of mouth watering options – all of which can be enjoyed alfresco within their cobbled riverside space. 
2. ‘Priscilla’ at M Shed 
Recommendation: For beautiful Mediterranean cuisine and an atmosphere to match, try The Olive Shed restaurant which, located on the harbourside, is just fairy-steps away from this gorilla! 
3. ‘Sabyinyo’ at Millennium Square 
Recommendation: The Living Room is worth a visit for their chocolate salted caramel tart alone; I love my puddings and this one was particularly memorable (for all the right reasons!) The extensive cocktail menu is also not to be missed - the Earl Grey Fizz, in particular, is divine!
4. ‘My Type of Bristol’ at Millennium Square fountain 
Recommendation: You might like to try Tikka Flame for some tasty Indian cuisine. Meg of ‘Bristol Foodie’ comments that in ‘doing absolutely everything right’ this venue ‘proved [her] inner curry snob well and truly wrong’! 
5. ‘Sky Gorilla’ at Anchor Square
Recommendation: Turn right from Anchor Square to find Bordeaux Quay – an emporium of all things foodie, this venue constitutes a restaurant, brasserie, wine bar, deli, bakery and cookery school. My experience has not yet extended beyond brunch but this alone was enough to leave me wanting more… 
6. ‘Blue’ at Crest Marketing Suite, Harbourside 
Recommendation: Travel alongside the river to The Pump House; a venue with ticks all the boxes for me...I especially love that even considering their gourmet approach to cuisine, the kitchen will whip up a round of tea and toast for an afternoon pit-stop. With such friendly service, not to mention a fabulous location, it's well worth the walk and besides...I wasn't going to suggest Hooters now, was I?!
7. ‘Seeing You, Seeing Me’ at One College Square 
Recommendation: Work colleague, ‘T’, suggests the Hope and Anchor at the bottom of Jacobs Wells Road for its unpretentious ambiance and generously portioned pub grub –apparently, their Sunday Roasts prove very popular and they serve up a ‘darn good pie’! 
8. ‘Grievesy’ at College Green 
Recommendation: Cross the green to candy-coloured Swinky Sweets where you'll find the ultimate in cupcake heaven.
9. ‘Willard’ at Marriott Hotels (6 July–7August Marriott Royal Hotel, 8 August–9 September Marriott Hotel City Centre) 
Recommendation: I thought it only fair to reference a venue in the middle of these two hotels, yet when The Boy and I visited ‘Willard’ he was in the foyer of the Marriot Royal Hotel and we did as recommended in no. 8! Anyway, my mid-point recommendation is The Rummer which, tucked away in all Saints Lane, is perfect for an expertly-made (and rather potent) cocktail from their imaginative line-up or for fine-dining spread across seasonally inspired (brunch and dining) menus. 
10. ‘Distinctly Different’ at Cascade Steps, Centre 
Recommendation: No. 1 Harbourside is the place to be after visiting this gorilla! With an eclectic vibe and locally sourced food at amazing prices, you really can’t go wrong!
11.‘Bradisson’ at Radisson BLU Hotel 
Recommendation: My Burrito for the tastiest (and probably the most nutritious) fast food on the centre. 
12. ‘Apple of my Eye’ at Centre Promenade 
Recommendation: Cross the road to 4500 Miles from Delhi, a relatively new face on the Bristol foodie scene and with a lunchtime buffet deal at £7.95 (all-you-can-eat), it’s definitely worth a try.
13. ‘Splodge’ at Colston Hall 
Recommendation: Traipse up the hill to The Urban Wood on Colston Street which Emily of ‘Bristol Bites’ describes as a ‘cosy-yet-sophisticated venue’. The food is apparently of a good standard and the drinks (including a range of traditional cocktails) are reasonably priced – can’t ask for more than that really…! 
14. ‘Cheeky Check-Up’ at Thunderbolt Square 
Recommendation: I have it on good authority that Cathay Rendezvous provides a first-rate Chinese banquet fit for even the celebrities that grace the 'hall of fame' that leads through to the main restaurant – The Beatles' George Harrison and Paul Daniels no less! *Thanks to my mum for this one!*
15. ‘Going Gone Gorilla’ at Queen Square 
Recommendation: New cocktail bar ‘Tahiki’, which is just off the square on the corner of Queen Charlotte Street, is described as ‘stylish’ and ‘exotic’ on their website (which certainly looks the part). I can’t wait to try out this bar and in particular, the ‘Coola Culla Ben’ which combines brown-butter infused rum, honey, Xanath vanilla liquor, allspice liquor, fresh lime and cinnamon syrup - wow! 
16. ‘Fade to Black’ at The Grove 
Recommendation: The upstairs restaurant at Riverstation is seriously good and offers some great early evening deals so that you can make the most of this top-end fare at a price which won’t break the bank.
17. ‘Blackbeardorilla’ on King Street 
Recommendation: Embrace the height of Summer at The Spyglass Restaurant and Grill which, seasonally a barbecue on a boat, is the Mediterranean hub of alfresco dining. 
18. ‘Crystal Eyes’ at Stanfords, Corn Street 
Recommendation: Start the Bus offers satisfying home-cooked comfort food alongside some seriously funky beats that makes it worth largin' it with the student population for! 
19. ‘Super G – Downhill Racer’ at St Nicholas Market 
Recommendation: St. Nicholas Market is home to many a foodie gem - check out the daily specials menu at Source Food Hall and Café for something special or indulge in a ‘gorill-ed’ cheese sandwich from the lovely guys at Trethowan’s Dairy.
20. ‘Aja’ at The Grand by Thistle 
Recommendation: One of The Boy's favourites is 'Big Chill Bar' which, channelling that festival vibe wows the Bristol scene with its impressive musical line-up. It also boasts a well-stocked bar with Bath Ale's Gem on tap and bottled Scottish Innis & Gunn proving particularly popular with The Boy. 
21. ‘The Forest Within’ at Castle Park (Herb Garden) 
Recommendation: Castle Park is such a lovely place for a picnic, perhaps visit this gorilla on a Wednesday so that you can gather some tasty local produce from St. Nicholas' weekly Farmer's Market; Castellano’s Deli, Elm Tree Foods and Pullins Bakers Ltd. are a few of my favourites.
22. ‘WOW! Bristol’ at Podium, Broadmead 
Recommendation: You’re around the corner from award-winning Chandos Deli which, tucked away in nearby Quakers Friars, is a brilliant choice for lunch. Fresh baguettes packed with mouth-watering ingredients – Parma ham, rocket, parmesan...need I say more?! 
23. ‘24 Carat Camo’ at The Galleries, Broadmead 
Recommendation: Head out of The Galleries to nearby Nelson Street where the lovely folk at Café Amoré serve an ample range of lunchtime grub – not to mention a superior cup of coffee, in my opinion!
24. ‘Gert Collaberilla’ at Horsefair, Broadmead  
Recommendation: Head up nearby Bridewell Street (past the Old Fire Station) to find The Lanes, a retro-style bowling alley which, a firm favourite with The Boy, serves up tasty 18-inch pizzas and a global selection of draft and bottled beers and ciders (including locally brewed varieties from Bristol Beer Factory and Boxsteam Brewery). Not to mention the private karaoke room, upstairs cinema and popular old-school Pac-Man machine, this place really has it all! 
25. ‘Elvis’ at Bristol Bus Station 
Recommendation: The Full Moon Hostel and adjacent Attic Bar offer a laid-back and friendly vibe as well as an organic/locally-sourced focused menu. Prices are more than reasonable and yet, you're piled with hearty nosh of a good standard...though personally, I've never make it past the 'chaviar' (chips smothered with cheese) – it's the best I've ever tasted and satisfyingly naughty!
26. ‘Hubert’ at Holiday Inn City Centre 
Recommendation: Around the corner is the eclectic Stokes Croft and off it Upper York Street whereby exists the Pear Café – this is quite a favourite with the Bristol 'foodie' network and worth a visit for its 'legendary' butterscotch and plain chocolate brownies alone! 
27. ‘Zoo Keeper’ at Quakers Friars 
Recommendation: Harvey Nichols’ Second Floor Restaurant - treat yourself, immerse yourself in gold…you certainly won’t be disappointed!
28. ‘Gorilla Skelana’ at Cabot Circus 
Recommendation: Go and see the ever-friendly ‘Giraffe’ crew. Situated on the top floor of Cabot Circus, this venue is a great choice for getting into the gorilla hunting spirit with their amazingly tasty global cuisine. There are also numerous money-saving deals to take advantage of so you won’t be hit too hard in the pocket either! 
29. ‘Ape Scape’ at Bristol Airport 
Recommendation: You could do far worse than take a little detour to nearby Congresbury for the culinary expertise on offer at Cadbury House – here, fine dining in all its glory is coupled with a picturesque setting...a treat, but after all that gorilla hunting, you’ll feel like you’ve earned it!
30. ‘Mondo’ at the Evening Post Building 
Recommendation: Why not trek into nearby Easton and discover the vegetarian delights of Café Maitreya which the Best Foodie Friend (BFF) describes as 'incredible' with the dishes on offer as 'easily the equal of any meat-based meal I've ever had'. Maybe this will prove the venue for our next meet-up... 
31. ‘Tensor’ at Temple Church Garden 
Recommendation: Head to Café Retreat on nearby Victoria Street for a cracking cup of coffee and a piece of their larger-than-life home-made flapjack. In fact, perhaps have your order made 'to go' as Temple Church Garden is really rather lovely!
32. ‘Jama’ at Temple Square 
Recommendation: Head to The Knights Templar, the smartest of Bristol’s JD Wetherspoon pubs. Make mine a Hendricks G&T - a bargain at only £2.70, with the option of a double for £1 extra, don’t mind if I do! 
33. ‘Goram’ at Temple Meads Station 
Recommendation: Opposite the station is Don Giovanni’s which, according to The Boss, is both friendly and homely with a great selection of top-notch Italian food. He continued that this venue has a tendency to be overlooked due to its location…a shame; I certainly intend to check it out!
34. ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ at St Mary Redcliffe 
Recommendation: Cross the road to Byzantium which should be visited for their ‘pudding lantern’ alone! 
35. ‘Gorilla Shape, Bristol Fashion’ at Grain Barge, Hotwells Road 
Recommendation: Check out the Grain Barge itself, especially if you’re a fan of real ale. Their selection, courtesy of The Bristol Beer Factory, is brewed in one of the remaining buildings of the old Ashton Gate brewery in South Bristol using locally grown malt and hops – my dad, the real ale snob, certainly approves!
36. ‘Blackbeard Silverback’ at Arnos Vale Cemetery 
Recommendation: There is a volunteer-run café at this45 acre haven of peace and quiet’ so why not stay a while and learn more of the heritage, wildlife and remembrance that this site pays homage to? 
37. ‘Suebo’ at North Street Green 
Recommendation: The BFF suggests the Hen and Chicken which she loves for its quirky décor and the amazing pizzas (which she's never been able to finish!)
38. ‘Spider Monkey’ on North Street 
Recommendation: Café Sazz for top notch Turkish grub as well as a fun atmosphere! 
39. ‘Alfred’ at Ashton Gate Stadium 
Recommendation: OK, I'm sure that when City are playing you can get obtain something pie 'n pint related from one of the nearby vendors. But, for something a little less 'dirty', visit Mark's Bread, Bristol's smallest independent bakery. Buy baguettes, sourdough and focaccia straight from the oven and make some mean sandwiches to take with you instead.
40. ‘Winston’ at Avon Gorge Hotel 
Recommendation: Avon Gorge Hotel itself with its sunshiney outdoor terrace which overlooks Bristol’s famous bridge as well as an offer whereby two courses are just £9.95 until 7:00pm from Monday to Saturday. 
41. ‘Kingdom’ at Clifton Mall Gardens 
Recommendation: MeMe Chocolate Café/Bar is perfect for something sweet and indulgent!
42. ‘Lipstick on the Gorilla’ at The Promenade, Clifton 
Recommendation: Trek into Clifton Village to the Arch House Deli (the South West’s Deli of the Year 2011 don’t you know!) which offers an array of tasty foodstuffs including over sixty artisan cheeses, cured meats, fresh bread (courtesy of Hobbs House Bakery) and home-made cake. I wouldn’t blame you for opting to stay in their homely café but if the sun is shining, why not ask the friendly staff to make you up a (biodegradable) picnic hamper to take back to the promenade - choose from one of their set menus or create your own selection – how cool is that?! 
43. ‘Gorisambard’ at the Clifton Suspension Bridge 
Recommendation: The Avon Gorge Hotel (as per no. 40) is the best eatery for views of this iconic Bristol landmark. Yet, a short walk into the village surely warrants a visit to Rosemarino where, says Laura of ‘What’s Hot in Bristol’, ‘the quality and the taste of the food [is] faultless’ – high praise indeed.
44. ‘Noah’ at Bristol Zoo Gardens 
Recommendation: OK, I know it’s a dubious link but with a similar name to this gorilla, try Noa Japanese Restaurant located on Clifton’s Waterloo Street – with the smiliest staff around, it’s the best of its kind. 
45. ‘Percival’ at Clifton College 
Recommendation: Almost on top of the Downs is ‘Rajpoot’ offering sophisticated Indian cuisine and concealing one of Bristol’s secret bars beneath it. Hausbar combines novel exclusivity with a great range of tipples, most notably a vast line-up of cocktails …but shh don't tell anyone I told you!
46. ‘Midnight Shok’ at Clifton Down Shopping Centre 
Recommendation: Pop into Whitelock and Grace (at the top of the steps to Clifton Down train station) for a decadent cocktail created by one of the resident mixologists. 
47. ‘Custard’ outside of BBC Bristol 
Recommendation: Check out nearby Brace and Browns Bar and Kitchen where you will find a great selection of rather original tapas or, save this gorilla until Sunday, when you could sample one of their sought-after roast dinners.
48. ‘Banana Shirt’ at the Victoria Rooms 
Recommendation: Mosey along to The Brass Pig on the Clifton Triangle for some posh pub grub. 
49. ‘Pattern Gorilla’ at the City Museum and Art Gallery 
Recommendation: This gorilla is merely a stones-throw away from the peak of Park Street and to begin your descent will lead you to the ever-classy Goldbrick House. The café and restaurant offer a high-quality dining experience and it would be criminal to miss out a tipple from the swanky cocktail menu or something bubbly from the soon-to-be re-launched champagne lounge.
50. ‘Reaching Out’ at Waitrose Westbury Park 
Recommendation: Pop into Waitrose for one of Bristol’s finest creations…Pieminister’s Heidi Pie – ‘goats cheese, sweet potato, spinach, red onion and roasted garlic in lovely pastry’, need I say more?! 
51. ‘Irene’ on Gloucester Road 
Recommendation: The chic appeal of Tart Café and Foodstore makes this venue my favourite Gloucester Road hangout but in keeping with the theme, try Zulu, where you can adventurously sample a baguette or bap made with your choice of their range of exotic meats – crocodile, ostrich, kangaroo but definitely not gorilla!
52. ‘Telula’ at The Mall at Cribbs Causeway 
Recommendation: You can’t go far wrong with Carluccio’s for authentic Italian cuisine – The Mall is home to a number of chain restaurants but this, in my opinion outshines the rest, (perhaps due to the lovely range of goodies; oils, Antipasti and breads which you can buy to take away). 
53. ‘Sunny’ at Currys Superstore, Cribbs Causeway 
Recommendation: Pop back into the mall via John Lewis and head down to the espresso bar in their basement. Slightly more sophisticated than the upstairs cafeteria and serving rich-roasted coffee as well as a lovely range of artisan scones; savoury Stilton and Walnut and sweet Apricot and Ginger are two of the best.
54. ‘Old Man of the Forest’ at Costco Avonmouth  
Recommendation: I turned to my Shirehampton-based pal for this one who suggested Valentino's in nearby Westbury On Trym – she commends the 'hospitable ambiance and passion for authentic Italian cuisine which is evident here'. The website tells of Chef Antonio, who, originating from the Puglia region of Italy, has 'more than forty years experience in producing mouth watering Italian dishes' – sounds good to me! 
55. ‘Severn Bore’ at the Watchhouse, Pill 
Recommendation: The Boy and I spotted many a traditional pub in Pill; The Duke of Cornwall, The King’s Arms and Star Inn…just to name a few! But if old-school watering holes are not your thing, detour to neighbouring Portishead for a visit to Chocolate One, an artisan chocolate shop which sells hand-made (and often intricately detailed) chocolaty creations…trust me, the chocolate flower pots are almost too beautiful to devour!
56. ‘Still Life: Alfred’ at Britannia Lanes of Bristol, Brislington  
Recommendation: Neighbouring Keynsham (which, incidentally, is on route to no. 57!) is both charismatic and full of great places to eat and drink. Try The Wine Bar on the High Street where 'the catch of the day' features in a fresh and seasonally-driven menu. Or, for something a little lighter, perhaps Café Crème or Pomegranate for the best in home-made fare. 
57. ‘Endangered PJs’ at Bitton Railway Station
Recommendation: Find The Chief Trading Post in close-by Oldland Common, an intriguingly quirky garden centre with an on-site café. Gorge on what can only be described as slabs of lovely cake within tranquil yet stimulating surroundings – bliss!
58. ‘Funky Gibbon’ at the Baptist Church, Chipping Sodbury 
Recommendation: Swing by Poppy's Tea Rooms and sip tea from vintage-style cups and saucers and perhaps indulge in a piece of home-made coffee and walnut cake - yum!
59. ‘I Spy Gorilla’ at Slimbridge Wetland Centre 
Recommendation: Located to the right of the Patch Bridge over the Gloucester/Sharpness canal is the Slimbridge Boat Station, aka The Black Shed which serves up freshly-cooked hot food as well as a stunning piece of home-made cake. There is a real home-from-home vibe here and visiting the ‘I Spy Gorilla’ constituted discovering another foodie favourite that The Boy and I probably wouldn’t have otherwise stumbled upon.
60. ‘Guerilla Tourist’ at Birmingham Coach Station  
Recommendation: Unfortunately, our stop-off in Birmingham was somewhat short-lived due to the precautions taken in light of the recent riots. Yet, The Boy and I stood with eyes like saucers at the forefront of (The Bullring's) Selfridges' shiny food hall which, from sushi to sweeties, truly has it all! Regardless of their (ample) price tags, goods are so tantalisingly displayed that the experience alone certainly warrants a visit. 
61. 'Doris' the bonus 61st gorilla at the bow of The Matthew
Recommendation: The crew aboard The Matthew informed The Boy and I that they run fish 'n chip cruises and hire out the boat for private events. There is also a bar which stocks Bath Ales and Bristol Beer Factory beverages – see Bristol from a historic viewpoint and sample its wares - I can't think of a better way to celebrate our beautiful city!

And now for the photographic evidence…



References:
7. Hope and Anchor - 38 Jacobs Wells Road, Bristol, Avon BS8 1DR Tel. 0117 929 2987
23. Café Amore - 14 Nelson Street, Bristol BS1 2LE
56. http://the-winebar-keynsham.co.uk/ Café Crème – 17 High Street, Keynsham. Tel. 0845 6860450 Pomegranate – 19 Temple Street, Keynsham. Tel. 0117 9864888
58. Poppy's Tea Rooms - 58 Broad Street, Chipping Sodbury BS37 6AS. Tel: 01454 313328
59. The Black Shed - Patch Bridge, Shepherds Patch, Slimbridge, Gloucester GL2 7BP