The Volunteer Tavern is hidden away behind Cabot Circus and is only a stone’s throw from Old Market. It’s a quirky, intimate free house that makes you feel as though you’re in the countryside rather than central Bristol. Inside, notes and beer strips embellishing the walls, strung lights, quotes on chalkboards, bunting, lampshades and flowers in old bottles give it that cosy, village-like vibe that lends itself to lazy afternoons. This popular watering hole has an ever-changing, precise real ale selection that promises to keep thirst at bay while you decide what to eat.
The Sunday lunch is very popular and has been known to sell out, so we decided to book a table and sample it for ourselves. With pints in hand and the sun making an appearance, it seemed fitting to take a seat outside in the enclosed courtyard, where there are plenty of tables and chairs for people to gather and chat over delicious food and drink come rain or shine.
The waitress brought us a bowl of olives to nibble while we waited for our feast and watched the courtyard become a buzzing hub of couples curing their hangovers, families reuniting and friends celebrating a birthday.
I kicked things off with homemade hummus sprinkled with paprika and accompanied by a toasted pitta, while my partner chose the creamy broccoli and Stilton soup with granary bread to start. Next, out came the rare roasted topside of beef – free-range, organic, 48-day-hung and locally farmed – and my slab of carrot, coriander and cashew nut roast alongside a vintage teacup filled with vegetarian gravy. Roast potatoes, a crispy homemade Yorkshire pudding, broccoli, braised cabbage and honey- and orange-glazed carrots accompanied both plates. A bowl of golden cauliflower cheese sealed the deal. If you really want to push the boat out, you can opt for the ‘Trinity’ and sample all three meats. After loosening our belts, we rounded our meal off with the rhubarb crumble and a jug of cream.
If you enjoy what you discover at The Volunteer Tavern, be sure to check out their incredible sister site, Hope & Anchor, near Brandon Hill.