The Runcible Spoon is tucked up one of Bristol’s infamous hills, though thankfully only a short hike from Stokes Croft’s centre and therefore unlikely to put off all but the most hardened of calf muscle. It’s been overseen by a handful of different owners, all committed to keeping things fresh, seasonal and as local as can be, and its latest incarnation tows the same provenance-conscious line.
On a chilly March morning, the tall windows steam, hiding the inside from view. Stepping across the threshold is like dropping in to your favourite aunty’s living room: eccentric nick-nacks, pot plants, creepers, antique cutlery and a wonderful old original fireplace set the informal tone, while 6 Music on the radio and the friendly, laid-back staff add a touch of cool. It really is a teeny space – the studious chefs can be seen through the hatch to the kitchen and the bar is within touching distance; long-legged stools and a benchtop by the door help them to squeeze sociable diners in.
With a focus on quality ingredients, the brunch menu is short but compelling: bacon sandwiches with onion marmalade, veggie and full English breakfasts, avocado flat breads with poached eggs. Facing my ovophobia head on, I opted for the baked eggs with chorizo, and wasn’t disappointed. This is brunch in its truest sense, with potions so generous you won’t even remember lunch exists: along with smoky choizo, creamy eggs and sweet peppers, there was a side of properly buttered sourdough, too. Coupled with some decent flat whites this was an excellent way to start a Saturday – and for those who don’t believe in early rising, it’s served until 3pm.
Price: from £2.50 (sourdough toast and cinnamon butter) to £8.95 (Big Breakfast).
Corn Street is having something of an identity crisis. Once the Stella-spattered playground for sports fans and students on the hunt for cheap beer and an argument, it’s now the home of some rather classy establishments helping to raise its reputation from the spew-flecked gutter: Pata Negra and The Ox are doing good things for Bristol’s carnivores, while The Birdcage and Small Street Espresso round the corner are bringing quality coffees to the sleepy masses.
The Cosy Club (newest edition to the relatively well-known chain) seems to fit in the middle of this new mould, serving breakfast through to dinner in the stunning situation of a former church and banking hall. Think vaulted ceilings, cornices and marble floors, all set off with chandeliers and a family of stuffed deer heads nestled amongst oil paintings and ancient flags. The staff are dressed in natty waistcoats and deliver jugs of water while menus are perused; a gleaming bar is tended by similarly fashion-conscious baristas who polish glasses and concoct mid-morning cocktails.
There’s no doubt the setting is sublime . And yet. When coffees come there’s something lacking in their construction, with flat whites quickly dissolving into a tepid milky americano, and, though the menu is well stocked, the food is delivered a touch to soon to be truly freshly made. The ingredients are fine, with local sausage, bacon and black pudding, but the execution a little lacklustre (the Egg Poacher’s potatoes were underdone, my mushrooms somewhat sad and cold). There’s nothing that couldn’t be solved with a little more time and care, but for now the style outweighs the substance. A shame, as with such a large and unique space, this could be an excellent and popular addition to Bristol’s ever-blooming foodie reputation..
Price: from £1.75 (toast and preserves) to £8.95 (steak and eggs).