Welcome to highlights of the year – in this bumper post I’ll be rounding up some of the biggest events, launches, trends and general food & drink happenings this year, with some highlights from various Bristol food fans dotted throughout too, because we all love a bit of nostalgia, don’t we?
Let me know what your highlights were this year on Twitter, using the hashtag #Bristolhighlights, and I’ll add them to this list as they come in 🙂
Without further ado, here’s the best of what we ate and drank in Bristol in 2016…
After a couple of years establishing itself as arguably the best food scene outside London, Bristol has now started branching out the food movement from the centre, and into the surrounding neighborhoods.
There were plenty of innovative openings and even some new eating districts created (Cargo, Wapping Wharf, and the boatyard which now plays home to the amazing trio of Brigstow Lounge, The Boathouse and Spoke + Stringer), as well as a timely resurgence of Gloucester Rd, Cotham Hill and Stokes Croft with lots of new local businesses.
Natalie Brereton @NatalieBrereton
Favourite new opening: Pasta Loco.
Favourite event: Has to be Durty Gurties!
My favourite place overall: Probably Pata Negra,or Rebel Roll if going more casual.
The Year of Pizza
2014 was pulled pork, 2015 was burgers…I’m hereby naming 2016 The Year of Pizza, because for the past 12 months it’s felt like every other new place that opened was a purveyor of sourdough pizza or mouth-watering Margeritas (not that I’m complaining).
From Pizzarova and Bertha’s both getting their first permanent digs, to the arrival of Pi Shop from the team behind the Michelin-starred Casamia – we were also treated to some quality slices from Proven and some huuuge but delicious pizza from Pepe Nero in their new spots at The Beer Emporium & The Full Moon.
So, what do we reckon will be the star food for 2017?
Andy from Wild Beer @WildBeerAndy
Best new place: Little Victories – service, coffee, cocktails and the setting. Ace.
Favourite event: Nogne Smaker dinner – we hosted Nogne O for their first event in the uk and Harriet put on an amazing Nordic dinner. If ego stroking isn’t allowed then the series of events Small Bar held where two breweries would go head to head at a dinner, each pairing their beers with every course. It was a little boozy but great fun!
Best place overall: It’s got to be Bar Buvette.
Exciting new places!
Oh god, where do you start? Every month I think I’ll run out of new places to mention, and yet still restaurants and bars keep opening by the bucketload!
To name just a few highlights from this year (add them to your list if you haven’t been yet)
- Pasta Loco – actually the best pasta I’ve ever had. They get a lot of love in this post, and deservedly so.
- Wild Beer – some excellent sours & experimental beers with top notch fish & chips.
- Pretty much everything at CARGO & Wapping Wharf – I mean, seriously. So good.
- Zitto & Bevi – a small, friendly Italian bar & cafe on Nine Tree Hill, lovely place.
- Nutmeg – Indian food done impeccably well in Clifton Village. Just look at their pics.
- Casamia, Paco & Pi Shop – The ultimate trio of fine dining, tapas & pizza from the Sanchez family.
- Este Kitchen – a cute and homely Latin dinner tucked away in residential Easton.
- Bambalan – what did we do before they arrived with their mega terrace & lush menu?
- Swoon – proving that when gelato is this good, it’s not just for summer.
- Adelina Yard – relaxed fine dining on Welsh Back, with a kickass lunch deal too.
- The Cauldron – lush food cooked in wood-fired ovens & over flames in St Werburghs
- Psychopomp – Visit the distillery & bar on St Michaels Hill – prepare to get DRUNK.
- Wilsons – some of the best food in Bristol right now, and the team are lush.
- Ceres – Melbourne-style brunch which looks as great as it tastes.
- The Ivy – a bit of super sophistication for Clifton Village – it’s proper gorgeous.
- Bangkok Joe’s – a huge Asian bar-restaurant, with a snazzy interior & yummy menu.
Alex from Rebel Roll @rebelroll
Favourite new opening: The Cauldon. It’s at the end of my street so it’s great to see a neighbourhood restaurant of that calibre arrive on your doorstep.
Favourite event: The Good Food Awards. I had the pleasure of working alongside Freddy Bird the year before last. It’s great seeing Bristol food celebrated and a lot of hard work being recognised.
Favourite place: So hard to call. Bravas – I love the vibe, there’s no place like it in the city. The food is great, the FOH team are absolutely awesome and the whole place is frenetic and fun. I also love Katie & Kims Kitchen on Picton St. I bloody love that cafe. Their food is outstanding, I love the quality of their baking, the simplicity but taste of their menus, and their god damn ailoi has undoubtedly inspired me! The vibe is always great, the big sharing table. It’s everything I love. Outstanding food in a beautifully ramshackle (and that’s a compliment) way.
The vegan wave continues…
We’ve seen a big increase in the amount of veggie & vegan businesses in Bristol in the past few years, but this year was especially vegan-tastic, with the openings of VX, Kale + Kettle, MUIÑO, Earthcake and Mission Pizza.
It’s never been a better time to be a fan of the veg & pulses!
Caroline Peel @CarolineCharles
Favourite new opening: Having to name one, Wilsons on Chandos Road is just such a special restaurant without being too fancy-pants. Jan’s cooking is right up my street. It’s what’s growing and moving (animal wise!) right here right now, cooked with absolute brilliance and its super chilled out with a banging wine list.
Favourite event: I’ve been lucky enough to work on some of Bristol’s best food events this year from Food Connections to Bristol Cocktail Week, but the Severn Sisters event for Action Against Hunger was a brilliant example of what can happen when Bristol comes together over good food to raise money and awareness of a good cause. Also, Pizza Giro night at Bertha’s Pizza HAS to happen again. Hilarious pizza-calling-craziness and as always UH-MA-ZING pizza!
Favourite place overall: The Old Bookshop has had some BRILLIANT pop ups there this year, especially delicious was The Plumed Serpent, but the arrival of Alex Bluett as a permanent chef and his amazing seasonal menu (pork cheek is oh so and the shin burger is a must-try), as well as its new Psychopomp bar has well and truly put this on my top recommendations list.
Alongside the exciting launches, sadly we had to bid farewell to a few local favourites too.
Fuego, Goldbrick House, Historical Dining Rooms and Pizza Provencale closed their doors this year, and the one that especially hurt was Aron’s Deli in Redland – just as I became addicted to their Reuben sandwiches they decided to cease trading as a restaurant, booo!
Andy Clarke @TVsAndyClarke
New opening: Box E – their innovative food and style is exactly what we Briatolians love (and the rest of the country want to try!)
Best event: Food Connections: a launch that tempts the finest chefs in the world, a programme that embraces every aspect of food culture.
Favourite place overall: Has to be Lido. This is truly the best example of how the personality of a head chef is literally all over the plate. The fact that they do breakfast, tapas and a full restaurant menu means I have an excuse to go at anytime of the day and can have different food for each sitting!
Events and festival highlights
Another quick round up here because again there’s just too many to list, but the events that stood out for me this year were…
- Bristol Beer Week & Craft Beer Fest – so much beer, and a great way to celebrate all the incredible breweries we have on our doorstep.
- Food Connections – always a highlight of the year, and I even got to do a food trail around Easton!
- The Bristol Food Tour – a newbie, but already seriously popular, and with good reason.
- Bristol Cocktail Week – bigger and better than ever. I think I might still be hungover.
- Pizza, Beer & Fizz Fest – some damn fine pizza and fun times, another winner from Foozie.
- Eat Your Words – the city’s best chefs cook recipes from books which inspired them; I went to the Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi event at Flow in May and it was my favourite meal of the year.
Arushi Patel @arushiwabisabi
Favourite new opening: I think Wapping Wharf actually – it’s transformed a whole new area with plenty of amazing choices and it’s still growing – making it an ongoing exciting part of Bristol!
Favourite event: 91 ways actually, because it’s been a fantastic thing to have in Bristol’s community in the weirdest year – knowing that there is a group of people bringing people together no matter what age or background through the love of food.
Favourite place overall: Bulrush has been the best dining experience as a huge treat and genuine enthusiasm through each of the dishes Greg and I had… So good I’m attending on Sunday for Ishita’s event just for the chance to be fed by them again!
The best pop-ups and food stalls
The places tempting me away from my packed lunches and home-cooked dinners (usually at the Bristol Eats events) the most this year have been…
- Eatchu – damn fine gyoza with some exciting toppings & sauces.
- The Pickled Brisket – hefty meat sarnies that’ll keep you full all day.
- The Chocolate Bear Kitchen – gluten free & vegan dishes that don’t scrimp on taste.
- Sri-licious – I had never tried kottu before, but now I’m addicted.
- Burger Theory – their Prairie Girl is my favourite thing to eat in Bristol. Hands down.
- Chicken Shack – wherever you’ve gone, come back!
- Feastie Boys – whether sandwiches or 3 course meals, they pack flavour into everything!
- For Mice and Men – lush lush lush cheese toasties. LUSH.
What to look forward to in 2017…
January isn’t looking so bleak after all, as we have Cargo 2 on the horizon, plus you’ll soon get the chance to dine in the sky, AND Atomic Burger is opening a new restaurant which will also sell pizza (!) – plus the usual roster of amazing festivals, pop-ups and dinners, hooray!
Most popular guides this year:
- The Gloucester Road pub crawl
- Where to treat yourself in Bristol
- Bristol’s classiest cocktail bars
- Where to get your sugar fix in Bristol
- 12 Best Brunches in Bristol
That’s all from me for this year – see you in 2017!
And a few other favourites…
Best new place: Pasta loco
Best event: Bristol Craft Beer Festival
Favourite place overall: Playground Coffee and their excellent new cocktail menu
Louise, The Library @208TheLibrary
Best new place: Pasta Loco
Best event: Bristol Good Food Awards
Favourite place overall: Bravas
Best new place: Wilsons
Best event: Eat Your Words
Favourite place overall: Bell’s Diner
Thom from Foozie @FoozieBristol
Best new place: Nutmeg
Best event: Drum & Bass Brunch at Cox & Baloney. Because the guests crowdfunded £40 to keep the DJ on for an extra 2 hours
Favourite place overall: Poco. I go 2-3 times a week. I absolutely love it!
Olivia Bennett @OliviaLovesF00d
Best new place: Pasta Loco and Box-E. Can’t choose!
Best event: The Severn Sisters event at Yurt Lush for Action Against Hunger, and of course the Foozie pizza, beer and fizz fest.
Favourite place overall: Bravas
Rob Hall, Wriggle @Wriggle_Bristol
Best new place: Ceres – amazing Brunches in Stokes Croft, just pipping Rebel Roll
Favourite place overall: Old Market Assembly. It’s got a bit of everything – an awesome array of shows in the Wardrobe Theatre, excellent food (try the roasts) and a banging atmosphere.