Maddie Bowman reviews one of Gloucester Road’s best-loved locals…
Located in what used to be The Prom on Bristol’s Gloucester Road – one of the only British high streets not yet fully conquered by corporate chain stores – The Gallimaufry, or The Galli, as it’s known by those who know and love it, plays an important role in maintaining the unique colour and vibrancy of this largely independent shopping destination. Providing quality food, drink and free live music performances for local residents and visitors alike, it is one of the best-loved venues in the area, and one which I find myself drawn to time and again.
Without losing its identity (as sometimes happens when a venue tries to be more than one thing at a time), The Gallimaufry exists as a successful bar and restaurant, a popular live music venue, and a space where fledgling artists can display and sell their work. On arrival, it’s impossible to ignore the seemingly effortless beauty of the interior, which is strewn with up-cycled furniture, curious artworks and all manner of fascinating trinkets. All this, combined with soft lighting and an excellent choice of thoughtful and eclectic music, works to create a playful wonderland setting with a pensive yet convivial atmosphere.
Sitting in the candlelit restaurant upstairs, we enjoy a glass of Prosecco with an appetiser of complementary bread before our first courses arrive at the table. My Chew Valley trout, our waiter tells me as he sets it down, was caught and delivered by hand that morning, a detail proven undoubtedly true by the way it tastes. The flesh is firm with a distinctly clean and subtly earthy flavour, and the skin is beautifully crispy and buttery. The accompanying new potatoes are fluffy and light, although perhaps lacking a sprinkling of salt. No matter though, because a slathering of caper and almond butter sauce delivers enough tangy loveliness to compensate. To accompany my main, I choose a glass of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, which is refreshing and subtly sweet in flavour, with a hint of citrus to cleanse the palate.
As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of dessert, we are struck by the sound of people gathering downstairs, and the gentle strumming of an acoustic guitar as folk singer/songwriter, Roo Panes, takes to the stage. A somewhat unexpected and very welcome treat, it is occurrences like this that make dining at The Galli such an enchanting and memorable experience. A slice of light and zesty lemon tart served with a drizzle of sweet berry compote makes a fitting end to a well-crafted meal, and is perfectly complemented by a scoop of velvety smooth blueberry sorbet, the deep purple colour and rich berry flavour of which remains a point of discussion for some time.
While the tempting brunch and dinner menus are certainly worth visiting for alone, the deceptively modest Gallimouthfuls menu is not to be overlooked. On it you’ll find a choice of gourmet bar snacks, including the popular Toulouse sausage, pork belly and butterbean stew served with crusty homemade bread — a delicious house speciality more than worthy of its special designation. A choice of freshly prepared lunches and hearty roast dinners are offered on the Sunday menu, and a selection of ciders, local ales and international craft beers are available at the well-stocked bar, alongside a thoughtful wine list. Another reason to love this place is the reasonable prices. Our meal came to just £27.50 per head including drinks and service, the latter of which we were more than happy to generously reward.
Presenting a marvelous amalgamation of playful perceptions, childhood wonderment and magical imaginings, The Gallimaufry is a venue that truly lives up to the connotations of its name, and one that I’m eternally proud to call my local.