Monthly Archives: January 2013

The Birdcage, Centre, Bristol

20130112-145126.jpgCorn Street is a student favourite, home to Australian drinking dens, coffee shop chains and sticky, leather-clad pubs announcing SPORT! in faux chalk handwriting. It also hosts some of Bristol’s most local of businesses under the canopy of St Nick’s market; and now, just a few steps away, The Birdcage.

The interior is pure Bristol: part boutique festival, part PG Wodehouse production and with bona fide vintage shop in one corner, the arts crowd flock in their oversized shirts, bobble hats and Chelsea boots to sip on pumpkin lattés while reclined in old Chesterfields. Velvet lampshades clustering around fairylights and the ubiquitous bicycle hanging from the ceiling add to the vintage theme, and the staff – some expert baristas, ex- fashion professionals or events organisers – look as if they were always meant to be here.

Happily what could have felt reserved only for those who are intimately familiar with a brothel creeper is actually very welcoming: on my visit one member of staff seemed genuinely delighted to see a young couple with newborn in tow and was quick to offer up the toys they have for such occasions, while drinkers and diners of all ages came in to have a nosy, scanning hopefully for a free sofa.

There’s not a huge amount in the way of brunch, but the coffee is delicious (their Americano on the bitter side of the spectrum, but with a healthy punch) and there are homemade cakes, muffins and sandwiches to fill the hungry hoards. The bar takes central stage and can be noisy, but a decent soundtrack of 60s music soon revives even the most irritable shopper. Pressés and smoothies add a touch of virtue while local beers and a short wine list will tempt you to the other side. Mix in their own ground coffee to take home, live music and some lovely pre-loved finds and you’ve got a perfect pit stop that you’re likely to return to again and again.

Price: from £1.90 (espresso); smoothies £2.75.

 

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The Social, Cheltenham Road, Bristol

The Social – where the hungover descend. On Sunday morning you pity the staff: punters in varying shades of dishevelment stumble over their orders and shake as they navigate strong coffees and pints of Coke to the table, before collapsing into a well-worn sofa or an armchair so saggy your elbows reach your ears as you dine. There’s plenty of space for the crowd to gather in and many continue the party with local beers and European lagers on tap; small people are equally welcome with toys, games, and low tables with rounded corners to bounce off.

The busy kitchen sends out anything and everything from the locally sourced all-day menu so you’re not short of options – opt for breakfast and you won’t be disappointed. Brilliantly meaty bacon (not for me a flacid rasher), black pudding and well-seasoned sausages are there for the carnivores, while their fabulously cheesy Glamorgan sausages are famed. Happily they’ll add extras for a small price, so you can have an all out sausage fest if you’re so inclined.

Beyond breakfast they have cocktail nights, wine evenings and Sunday roasts; there’s art for sale and books to borrow too. It’s a popular spot and the exposed brick walls amplify the noise, so if you seek some solitude on a quiet weekend, this might not be the place for you. For the rest of us, there’s much to love – and the staff are hugely friendly too.

Price: from £1.50 (toast & jam) to £6.25 (Social Breakfast).

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