The Apple – More than 40 varieties of cider are served on this converted barge on Welsh Back, including its own Old Bristolian, raspberry and strawberry varieties and six different pear ciders. Craft beers and wines also available, as is a selection of ploughman’s.
Clifton Sausage – At least six different bangers grace the menu at this refined gastropub, from Gloucester Old Spot to Beef with Spitfire ale (there’s always a veggie version, too). Local Butcombe Bitter and Ashton Press Cider are on tap and there are 30-odd wines by the glass, all accompanied by bar snacks such as parsnip crisps and sausage rolls.
The Pipe & Slippers – This cracking boozer has a traditional pub feel thanks to its lofty ceilings, burnished wood and hand-pulled beers, featuring locally brewed ales from Bristol Beer Factory and Bath Ales. It’s good for food and gets lively at weekends with DJs and a 1am licence.
Primrose Café – This Clifton classic, with its pavement tables and wooden interior, feels like a Parisian street cafe. It’s ideal for breakfast-the croque monsieurs and Belgian waffles are superb-while lunch options include Welsh rarebit on sourdough toast or hamburger with chorizo.
Pieminster – Located in the Glass Arcade in the 18th-century St Nicholas Market (with another venue in Stokes Croft), this Bristol institution serves gourmet pies with quirky names: Chicken of Aragon (chicken, bacon and tarragon), Deerstalker (venison, dry-cured bacon, red wine and puy lentil) and Moo and Blue (beef steak and Long Clawson Stilton), all drowned in lashings of gravy.
The Canteen – Occupying the ground floor of an old office block in Stokes Croft, this community-run cafe sums up Bristol’s alternative character: it’s about slow food, local suppliers and fair prices, whetheryou pop in for a bacon butty, calamari or risotto. There’s also nightly live music, and artists’ studios to explore.
Bell’s Dinner & Bar Rooms – Set in a converted greengrocer’s, Bell’s Diner serves up modern British and Med sharing dishes that might include babaganoush, rabbit tajine with potatoes, peppers and pomegranate, or Cornish scallops with jamon and artichoke puree.
Riverstation – The location is hard to beat, with a view over the Floating Harbour, but it’s the food that keeps the punters coming back: classic in style with a European flavour, from warm sprout flowers with anchovies, to pan-fried ling with harissa butter sauce. The bar + kitchen downstairs is open all day for coffee and cakes.
Fishers – This sophisticated restaurant has been open for more than a decade and is top choice for a fish supper-from pan-fried hake to River Exe mussels, and the hot shellfish platter. Located in Clifton, its whitewashed walls, ships’ lanterns and nautical knick-knacks create a maritime vibe.
TRANSPORT – There are regular train services to Bristol Temple Meads from numerous UK cities including Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London Paddington and Manchester. National Express also has excellent bus. Bristol is easily explored on foot but bus services 8/9 to Clifton, White ladies Rd, Bristol Zoo Gardens and Temple Meads can come in handy. There’s also a regular ferry service at the harbour, with tours to Avon Gorge on offer.
WHERE TO STAY
Brooks Guesthouse is in a fantastic spot in the city centre. Rooms are finished with flock wallpaper and power showers; downstairs there’s a lounge with leather chairs, and a garden for afternoon tea.
The newly refurbished Bristol Hotel has lots in its favour, with a riverside location in the harbour district, luxurious rooms and the popular River Grille Restaurant, serving up excellent seasonal West Country produce.
On the edge of the Downs, Number Thirty Eight is a super b&b with 10 huge, contemporary rooms: greys and blues dictate the colour scheme, while waffle bathrobes and REN goodies await in the bathrooms.