With the right honourable Hugh Fairy Whipping-Boy’s passion for all things local, organic and seasonal, it seemed almost inevitable that River Cottage and Bristol would come together. And they have: a church-cum-post-office on Whiteladies Road has been transformed into a high-ceilinged, wood bedecked “canteen” serving the best of the south west’s ingredients, the shining open kitchen and young and enthusiastic staff welcoming in the wind-chapped masses from morning ‘til night.
It’s very much more restaurant than café (or indeed Cottage): polite and smiling waitresses bring water to the table and will hang up your jacket before offering to bring you beverages as you peruse the breakfast menu. Despite the famous name and benevolent HFW looking down from book covers above the bar, it’s surprisingly good value, with most meals sitting around the £5 mark. We opted for muesli topped with extremely creamy yoghurt, spiced figs and poached apple and a Proper Round of Toast (anything under 4 slices and the Egg Poacher will start to eye up the napkins as another source of sustenance). The locally-roasted coffee is excellent, and a peek at the breakfasts around me showed well-crisped bacon, perfect globes of poached egg and sausages that brought murmurs of appreciation from the diners around us.
You’d be advised to phone ahead and, if you can face it, get there early: a 9am start on a Saturday gave us the pick of the place, but by 11 the floor was full; a late brunch may be a quick one if you have to give up the table for an early lunch booking. Children are welcome and catered for with their own menu, quiet music plays and you can watch the resident baker do his thing at the wood-fired oven – no doubt this place will do very well indeed.
Price: from £1.50 (toast & jam) to £8.50 (Canteen breakfast).