As Christmas rapidly approaches, the year draws to a close, and the cold sets in, this December you’ll no doubt be on the lookout for a number of fantastic pubs and restaurants in which to flee from the frost and catch up with family and friends over exceptional, seasonal fare. Fortunately for those of you living in the bustling and vibrant culinary capital of Bristol, no matter what dining experience you’re craving, the city always delights. But with so much choice, selecting the perfect place to eat and drink from so many brilliant options can be somewhat of a challenge – especially as people expect only the best at Christmas time.
To celebrate the recent release of our Bristol Food & Drink Guide 2019 and to take some of the stress off of your shoulders this Christmas, we’ve rounded up a list of 8 of our favourite places to eat and drink in the city. From traditional city pubs to luxurious hotels nestled amid beautiful countryside, these pubs and restaurants represent the best that Bristol has to offer.
Known for its exceptional food, electric atmosphere, and live music, you can’t help but notice The Galli as you walk up Gloucester Road thanks to its inviting exterior and outside seating area which is always bustling with cheery revelers.
Order a tipple from the quirky and kaleidoscope-coloured bar, boasting a striking stained glass window overhead that fills the venue with light, before taking a seat in the equally imaginative dining area, as thousands of colourful ornaments of all shapes and sizes cover the ceiling and make you feel like you’re dining in a cave pulled from a dream.
When we visited this enchanting and popular Bristol institution, we were immediately impressed with the choice on the concise and well-crafted menu. With its Mediterranean influence, offering a selection of small plates that can be shared tapas style or sampled as starters, begin your meal with the likes of saltfish fritters, Padrón peppers, and a delicious Mexican-style salad of tomatoes, sweetcorn and black beans.
The finest place to sample flavoursome Sri Lankan-inspired fare in the city, The Coconut Tree, with two locations in Bristol on Cheltenham Road and in Clifton, makes flavour the focus above all else. Sit within The Coconut Tree’s sociable interiors around large wooden tables and soak up the vibrant environment as you peruse the mouth-watering menu, just brimming with a huge selection of scrumptious Sri Lankan-inspired treats.
Start with the likes of coconut cream-soaked cashew nuts or fried okra before following this up with slow-cooked black pork or goat curry. If you’re a vegetarian or just a fan of flavour, the stir-fried chickpeas with chillies or the deliciously rich pumpkin curry are must-tries. For a real taste of Sri Lanka, make sure to order a devilled dish or opt for one of the classic hoppers – a bowl-shaped pancake served with sambal and salsa. No trip to The Coconut Tree is complete without sampling the Drunken Sri Lankan cocktail, which is served in the charming ceramic Ruby the elephant.
Once home to celebrity chef Keith Floyd’s bistro, Snobby’s, a lively wine bar and community restaurant housed on a calm corner in Redland, always provides guests with the warmest of welcomes and most delicious and indulgent Italian fare.
When we visited Snobby’s earlier in the year, we began with the mixed meat and cheese sharing platter, which was exquisitely presented and perfectly paired with an incredible Italian Dolcetto d’Alba red wine. This was followed by a selection of enticing small plates; we opted for the creamy burrata salad, smoky taleggio and sundried tomato arancini, garlic butter king prawns and the ‘nduja Scotch egg, which has become something of a local legend – and for good reason. Finishing with a caramel panna cotta with gingerbread and chocolate gratin served with berries and honeycomb ice cream to share while sipping a Pinkster Royale: gin-based raspberry liqueur topped with Champagne – we couldn’t imagine a more perfect celebratory conclusion to an unforgettably good meal.
Despite its unassuming exterior, Industry Bar & Kitchen wows as soon as you walk through the door. An expansive and versatile space ideal for all occasions, this hidden gem on Bristol’s Gloucester Road guarantees a warm welcome and memorable, personalised experience for anyone wise enough to choose to dine at this relaxed and modern bar and restaurant. Owned by two brothers who worked tirelessly to transform this once empty space into one of Bristol’s must-visit dining destinations, inside you’ll find comfy seating, wooden tables, low-hanging lights, and a decked garden area that makes the perfect suntrap in the summer and faces away from the hustle and bustle of Gloucester Road outside.
Order from an ever-changing range of local craft ale at the bar, or opt instead for a delicious cocktail or glass of wine, before digging into a dish off of the bar and restaurant’s sensational seasonally changing menu, using the finest local produce. If you’re feeling sociable, order a selection of tempting small plates like the mouth-wateringly good beef brisket fritters with bacon jam or the beautifully cooked king prawns.
The go-to place in Bristol for after-work drinks in the sunshine, Mud Dock Café also makes an idyllic spot for a cosy dinner out, thanks to its seats overlooking the water, vast windows that come in all shapes and sizes, enchanting, romantic fairly lights, and bikes and plants that hang from the ceiling. There truly are few dining destinations that can match the level of charm or boast as much playful characterful as this.
When we visited earlier in the year, we were impressed by the friendly welcome we received from the attentive staff, who helped us choose the perfect glass of wine to accompany our meals and guide us through the array of tantalising specials on offer that day. We started our dinner with flatbread served with beetroot hummus and a deliciously creamy roasted corn and jalapeno dip, before moving onto warm new potatoes with asparagus spears and halloumi, served with harissa tahini and pine nuts.
Finishing with an oatmeal and white chocolate cookie and ice cream sandwich which proved simply impossible to resist, we left already planning the next time we’d treat ourselves to dinner out at the Mud Dock Café.
Recently chosen as one of the top three pubs in the country for food at the Enterprise Inn awards for excellence, The Duck & Willow is a contemporary British pub full of charm, boasting a menu that highlights the finest local and seasonal produce available. With its inviting indoor dining area and gorgeous garden complete with decking, fairly lights and ample seating, whether you’re stopping by for a delicious pizza at lunch or after a hearty evening meal, the stunning array of outstanding dishes on offer never fail to impress. Start with the likes of a flavoursome duck liver parfait with homemade tomato and mustard seed chutney before moving onto mains like the very autumn flavoured butternut squash risotto with Blacksticks Blue cheese and crispy sage or roasted fillet of salmon accompanied by a tomato and caper croquette, wilted spinach and sauce vierge.
The restaurant’s superb steaks are also worth making the journey to the restaurant for. Sourced from Ruby Red cattle by local butchers Ruby and White to ensure each prime cut is of exceptional quality, choose from rump, rib-eye or sirloin cooked to your liking and enjoy accompanied by chunky chips, slow-cooked tomato and peppery watercress.
Appropriately named and located just seven miles south of Bristol city centre, The Travellers Rest is not your typical watering hole. Charming, cosy, and offering a relaxed dining experience to all who are lucky enough to stop by, whether you’re craving delicious pub grub or a great range of real ale, lager and cider, The Travellers Rest never fails to exceed expectations. The large conservatory area that overlooks the Chew Valley also makes an idyllic place to while away a few hours, boasting stunning views of the surrounding area.
Start with the likes of creamy garlic mushrooms followed by locally sourced rib-eye steak or one of the pub’s delicious homemade burgers. All served in a toasted brioche bun with fries and slaw on the side, choose from either the bacon double cheeseburger smothered in their secret recipe burger sauce, grilled chicken burger with smoked bacon, cheddar sauce, guacamole and salsa, or baked bean burger with cheddar cheese and garlic mayonnaise. For dessert, it doesn’t get much better than the homemade classic sticky toffee pudding.
A four-star boutique hotel and spa nestled amid beautiful countryside and within easy reach of central Bristol and Bristol Airport, DoubleTree by Hilton Cadbury House is worth the visit alone for its two fabulous dining destinations.
Renowned for providing delectable cuisine in a luxurious setting, Marco Pierre White’s eponymous steakhouse has recently been refurbished to the highest standard, balancing a spacious layout and sophisticated design with comfy seating and inmate lighting, creating a warm and welcoming ambience. Making use of the finest seasonal produce from South West suppliers, not only does the menu showcase outstanding cuts of grass-fed beef for which it is famed, but it also serves a number of seafood dishes such as expertly grilled swordfish with aubergine caviar, olive tapenade, sauce vierge and fresh basil, as well as plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans.
If you’re after a more casual dining experience, Marco Pierre White’s laid-back venue, Bardolino, specialises in authentic stone-based pizza, Bellini cocktails and traditional Italian coffee, and is the perfect place for brunch. Why not tuck into Bardonlino’s breakfast, which is composed of Tuscan sausages, pancetta, grilled tomatoes, rosemary mushrooms, and poached eggs?