Tag Archives: Coffee

Top five personal favourite places in Bristol

I posted on my top five favourite places in Bristol over on Bristol Culture and it crossed my mind that there are lovely memories for me within other stretches and corners of Bristol that wouldn’t make sense to other people. I thought I would post these second set of favourites which are slightly more personal.

6. The street with the trees opposite the BRI

Urban, gritty Lewins Mead Upper Maudlin Street is my ultimate autumn street. I first moved to Bristol to start a PhD and I would walk along from Colston Street to the Galleries in order to buy a coffee and start my day. Grey and cinnamon and windy and rainy. This part of Bristol makes me happy.

leaves autumn

7. Starbucks in Borders on Queen Street (gone)

During a truly miserable time as a PhD student I would find the only reprieve at Starbucks in Borders where I would browse some books on Zen and then sit with a vanilla latte and write in my diary. Comfy and tasty and available late at night. Perfect for solitary nightbirds.

8. Christmas steps
I have slid down them in the snow and soared over them like starlings along with Elbow and tried to capture them in photographs without getting the light poles in the way and sat down on them and mostly climbed them. My memories of the Christmas Steps are nearly always of dark mornings heading for the train station.

9. St Michael’s Hill

The first hill that my then boyfriend and I climbed in Bristol and the one I used to climb during all stages of pregnancy to get to my midwives including an emergency rush to the hospital at 29 weeks and on the night I went into labour I walked down it while having contractions but wasn’t dilated enough to be kept there.

10. The Croft, Stokes Croft

Listening to the Random Family and the Miserable Rich in a beer-soaked room with punters who found it more fun to come in and out of the room rather than stay and listen to the music. The night was full of distractions and the people were consistently talking and one guy with long white hair reminded me of the guy from Dinosaur Jr. I walked home in the rain.

Top five places for breakfast in Bristol

Update: this list has been updated at this link

Breakfast suggestions were flying around Twitter this morning so I thought I would put together a top five for this weekend.

1. 40 Alfred Place is hosting a French pastry morning this Saturday with delicious taste sensations baked by Laura from Harts Bakery. From 8am till noon, they shall be providing a deliciously continental petit déjeuner avec croissants, pains au raisins, croissants aux amandes, pains au chocolat, baguettes, croque-monsieur et bien plus encore.

2. Lahloo Pantry in Clifton Village is probably the most wonderful place for cakes and tea plus one type of coffee. In addition they serve unlimited toast, boiled eggs and soldiers and French toast among other breakfast items.

3. Source food do the best pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. The pancakes are a bit teeny, however, which is strange as they are probably the cheapest part of the dish. I have also had some lovely French toast and boiled eggs and soldiers there. Most importantly the coffee is good – Extract Coffee as also served at 40 Alfred Place.

4. Primrose Cafe at Clifton Village is quite nice if the weather is lovely and pleasant and you can get a table outside. They have fresh orange juice and very tasty cooked breakfasts and pastries. When I have to sit inside and it’s a little busy, my claustrophobia kicks in and the fact that they have the radio on is doubly annoying.

5. The Watershed on the Harbourside. My daughter loves their scrambled eggs so much that last time we were there she grabbed my fork and nearly ate all of mine.

Bonus. Arch House Deli – Their food is amazing and they serve coffee and pastries. Not really dedicated to breakfast but still a very pleasant place.

Update:
Brunel’s Buttery on the Harbourside – SS Great Britain and M Shed side – is also notable for its crowd-drawing abilities. I have yet to go but many Bristolian’s swear by its tastiness and hangover-curability.

Mersina at 40 Alfred Place

Places that are in my bad books at the moment:

1. Rosemarino in Clifton: We visited on the Diamon Jubilee bank holiday Monday and I wasn’t that impressed. Their scrambled eggs were dry and their toast was drier. The other breakfasts looked very nice but their coffee was served in minuscule portions and their orange juice was served from individual bottles.

Saying that, the restaurant itself was lovely and the music was pleasant. It may have been an off morning. Their pastries, made in-house, were excellent.

2. Bordeaux Quay on the Harbourside: The last time we visited they were so busy that the service was barely polite. The full English breakfast may have been local and ethically sourced but the homemade beans were bland and the sausage was tasteless.

I actually still hold a grudge from the time I visited about a year ago and instead of serving me a stack of pancakes, the chef just made one big pancake which was entirely unpleasant as a visual experience.

Favourite photos from last week

On Wednesday, last week, we went to visit Mersina’s childminder in Clifton. We then went by Papadeli where I enjoyed a delicious coffee and and a chocolate croissant while Mersina ate some of her plain croissant. It was lovely.

Roasting Coffee

A video showing Matt Gibson’s coffee roasting. Enjoy.

Programmer, journalist, photographer, artist, jogger, all-round creative geek. Occasional web developer for @getrunningapp.
http://www.gothick.org.uk/

Boston Tea Party, Cheltenham Road

The Boston Tea Party chain of cafés have Stokes Croft as their newest location in the West Country. They pride themselves on serving outstanding coffee, tea and creating delicious, original affordable meals. That’s what they say and I tend to agree.

My daughter and I visited Cheltenham Road for their newest addition with a dash of trepidation. My daughter Mersina was in her pram and cafes around that area are independent and arty and usually quite small or feature various sets of steps or tables on pavements.

In contrast, the new cafe is spacious with plenty of room between tables that are placed inside and outside in the courtyard. I had a 12oz soya, decaf latte with chai flavouring and the barrista barely blinked at the order, which was encouraging.

I also tried one of the pastel de nata little tarts which are lovely. My coffee was curdled unfortunately but that has to be a one off as Boston Tea Party is one of the places that usually know how to treat soy milk.

The best thing about the new cafe is that it also sells pancakes among its delicious sounding menu items. The Boston Tea Party on Park Road did not do so the last time I was there. I look forward to going back and trying some of the food.

The Lounge, North St: Unimpressed

I walk into the Tobacco Factory and my companion reminds me why I prefer to go for coffee alone. Are you sure you want to go here, he asks. Well obviously I’m sure otherwise I wouldn’t have come in, but my grass-is-greener friend sounds doubtful and out we go again. This time we head to the Lounge, part of the Lounges chains round Bristol.

My friend spots an old colleague by the door so we spend some time chatting before we head to the bar to order. I order a second shot with my decaf, soy latte and there’s no green tea so my friend orders a redbush or rooibos tea. The difference in the names is attributed to your accent according to the woman serving us. Not quite a believable statement. She is also apparently the sole one in charge of coffees because when I asked whether they did decaf she replied ‘I do’ so let’s hope she doesn’t drop dead.

We hadn’t found a table yet so I went to get one and tell her the number. By the time I got back she’d moved out to collect glasses so I stood around waiting and then half told someone else but by then she was back and with an oh yeah helped out.

The coffee and tea were brought out to us quite quickly. All three rooms of the lounge were quite busy and full of young professionals brunching which probably explains why the place smelled of eggs. There was constant movement and talking which social people probably find quite friendly. There were newspapers available although only the sports and travel sections were left or there were the news of the world or the Mirror.

The well worn but polished floor boards lent a warmth to the room which suited the autumnal russet colours of the walls. Sturdy wooden tables were well placed with the comfortable armchairs, most fitted with leather cushions.

All should have made for a lovely break but somehow it didn’t quite work. The constant smell of everyone’s breakfast pointed to the fact that there too many tables all together. The coffee was bland and even with the additional shot was way too milky. The rooibos tea was the finest a tea bag could provide and didn’t quite live up to the standards of the freshly made Lahloo tea we’d encountered around the city centre and Clifton. Most of the service wasn’t great and I was glad to leave most of my beverage to go elsewhere.

I can imagine that it would be a great place to run into friends or acquaintances if you lived in the area. There’s a communal feel to it and greeting friends with quick chats seemed normal but I’d rather go somewhere where I know no one rather than suffer through bad coffee

227 North St, Bedminster, Bristol, Avon BS3 1JJ, 0117 963 7340
thelounges.co.uk‎

Tobacco Factory: Tapas and Coffee

The Tobacco Factory for lunch on a Sunday did not offer a roast. Instead, there were some warm brasserie style lunches, baguettes, English muffins and a selection of tapas dishes.

Luckily they also had decaf coffee so along with the bread and humous (£3.20), olives and humous (£3.20) and patatas bravas (£3.80), I was able to enjoy a vanilla soy latte (£2.10 + 0.20p) and my friend had a green tea.

The bread was lovely, from Mark’s Bread across the road, and was firm of texture with a harder crust but not too tough. The selection was made up of white and brown bread drizzled with olive oil and supplemented with two triangles of butter. The first basket had five mediocre sized pieces while the second had a better amount.

The patatas bravas were roasted new potatoes, seasoned with salt and pepper and parsley. I say seasoned but most were barely flavoured while the rest were nice but the pepper was not entirely appropriate. The tomato sauce / salsa accompaniment had no seasoning at all and I didn’t bother with it after a couple of tastes. The humous was chunky but not too rough although again there was no seasoning apart from parsley and cumin. Salt was not a big factor in the meal at all (the butter was unsalted as well). The best dish was made up of the green and brown olives which were nice and the portion was a good size.

The vanilla soy latte was pleasant and tasty and the green tea was pretty standard and drinkable, apparently.

The meal was nice although it wasn’t meant to be more than a snack. It wasn’t amazing and could have done with more seasoning but it was worth the money. The environment was the most enjoyable aspect to the midday break. The room was large and most of the tables were full, families with little children, men on their own with newspapers and books, gatherings of young women and random urban professionals passing by. The space was large enough to make the conversations a slight noise in the background which allowed for comfortable talk and some semblance of privacy.

I suspect I’ll try a different dish next time and English muffins sounded very good. £5 for one of four selections including mushroom and cheese and smoked salmon with cream cheese. For an additional 50p each you can add a poached egg as well. Sounds ideal for brunch.

The Tobacco Factory, Raleigh Rd, Bristol, Avon BS31TF, 0117 902 0060

Papadeli, Delicious and Magical

I’ve written before about how much I like Papadeli and I have previously visited to shop around, browse and read a paper while drinking coffee. That all happened downstairs, however, and this time I ventured upstairs to the magical little restaurant above the shop. Some joyful staff members informed me that I could order upstairs and that sitting there to have just tea was not a problem.

As I stepped into the cozy area upstairs the waiter greeted me and I told him that I would like some tea. ‘Tea?’ he asked. ‘Tea’ I replied and he went off to fulfil my order. I hadn’t meant proper tea of course being on a decaf diet due to my pregnancy, however, I was feeling adventurous and didn’t call him back.

I seated myself at a table near the stairs and asked for a menu when he brought me my Lahloo Breakfast Tea (£1.50) in the by now familiar solid white, individual tea pots. My friend Mark, who also had never been upstairs, arrived and ordered a Green Mulberry Lahloo tea and an apple and cinnamon tart (£3.95) from the dessert menu.

My tea was fragrant and delicious, accompanied by milk and made from loose leaves, although I chose to leave out the milk. Mark’s tea was brought in a similar Lahloo pot and his dessert was served with a dollop of fresh cream and fresh, large cherries. The tart was delicious as were the cherries, what a great touch to a lovely dessert.

We managed to stay for a couple of hours and even when the restaurant emptied we weren’t given any funny looks about clearing out near closing time. There was a specials board of food dishes and of cakes for the day which included brownies and other chocolate based sweets.

We went downstairs to pay and had a browse around the shop while comparing the merits of Arch House Deli and Papadeli. Mark had managed to buy some of the risotto of which I’d been so envious a couple of weeks back but I couldn’t feel too jealous as he treated me to some amazing looking Italian capers and of course to the tea. We oohed and aahed over the salads and delicious cakes, on display and freshly made, in the kitchen behind the counter.

I lingered at the cheese counter and vowed to come back when I could have some blue and unpasteurized cheese again. I’m looking forward to a main meal there one day which would also be a treat.

Papadeli, 84 Alma Road, Clifton, Bristol, Avon BS8 2DJ, 0117 973 6569

Swinky’s Sexy Cupcakes

I took Bristol Bites’ suggestion yesterday, and on the way up Park St, stopped off at Swinky’s for a special treat of a cupcake. Swinky’s is a sweet lovers delight of a shop. The home made candy motif has now spread to imported American goods such as Reece’s Pieces, Junior Mints (£1) and Lucky Charm cereal boxes (£7.95). Adventurous flavours such as Moroccan Mint and Deep Dark Chocolate Orange and Chilli have been joined by Cosmopolitan, Dirty Martini, Chocolate Three Ways and one more which I will leave for you to discover.

The four new flavours have been created to celebrate the second Sex and the City movie by representing each of the female lead characters. The two that I bought to taste were the following:

Cosmopolitan
Blitzed cranberries infuse vanilla sponge cake with a hint of lime zest to stand up to the sweetness. Topped with a Cranberry, Orange and Lime Frosting, the only thing missing is the Vodka! An ode to Ms Bradshaw.

Dirty Martini (Salted Chocolate Caramel)
Light chocolate cake is wrapped in salted martini-chocolate frosting and drizzled in caramel. Elegance with a feisty kick and a potential classic. Samantha perhaps?

I saved the sweet treats to enjoy with my Indian Monsoon Malamar coffee from Extract Coffee. I preferred the Cosmopolitan cupcake and didn’t like the idea that the dirty martini was made up of cake, not dense enough. The coffee was great.

I must mention that I don’t intend to watch either of the Sex in the City movies. I find the concept of them sexist and stereotypically cliched – so it’s not the movie that caused my excitement. I just love variety and new flavours.

Swinky Sweets Ltd, 20 Park Street, Bristol, BS1 5JA

Boston Tea Party, time to linger

Two poached eggs on a buttered white bagel. Saturday morning. The coffee is a large sized vanilla soy latte. Not the Boston blend, I find it too mellow, but rather the normal dark blend.

On my own this would be my favourite way to start the day. Ideally it would follow a run but that doesn’t always happen. I would have picked up a newspaper from somewhere close by and dedicated the next hour to getting through some part of it. With company I would have to negotiate the time spent reading and talking until my company either got bored or fed up.

Recently the poached eggs have been on brown toast. I’ve had a waffle when craving something sweet. At the cafe on Whiteladies Rd they don’t serve the large size coffee, or poached eggs, so it’s the scrambled choice or a sizeable portion of porridge with soy milk and jam.

That’s breakfast. Slow mornings and time to linger.

Midday and afternoon allow for an additional menu of proper meals. There is the vegetarian burger which is soft and tasty, coloured slightly red from the beetroot, and not dry at all. Served with potato wedges the dish is substantial. There are salads and wraps, other burgers, falafels etc.

In true South West spirit, the Boston Tea Party sells Weston’s organic cider and Bath Ales. Fresh juice and summery iced teas are located next to the cake display at the Park St cafe. The shelves are stacked with home made cakes such as lemon drizzle and coffee and walnut. There are decadent and deliciously extravagant iced cup cakes which are dense, sweet and amazing.

I left the sandwiches until last because, while they generally have a great selection of flavours, they are made with such thick bread that I’m usually a little put off by them. Nevertheless the food is not just any ordinary food, it is ethically sourced, local and organic where possible. See the website for more details.

The Boston Tea Party is a small chain of seven family run cafés based in the West Country which pride themselves on serving outstanding coffee tea and creating delicious, original affordable meals. That’s what they say and I tend to agree.

My favourite cafe is in Bristol on Park Street. The other six can be found at Barnstaple, Bath, Bristol – Clifton, Bristol – Whiteladies, Exeter, Honiton and Worcester.

http://www.bostonteaparty.co.uk