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Milk Teeth, Portland Square & Albatross Cafe, North Street

Though we’d purposefully made few plans this summer, it turned out to be just as busy as ever. With long weekends and trips to the seaside, the requisite hen dos, weddings, festivals and after parties, family to visit and friends to host, this year we fall into Autumn with a pleasantly knackered face plant.

So it’s in this sleepy frame of mind that we seek quiet shelters from the hubbub; places to linger and ponder life outside the windows. As luck would have it, two recent additions to our cafe rotation offer just that: the rather lovely Milk Teeth on Portland Square, and a rival in restfulness, Albatross Cafe on North Street.

Milk Teeth is a cafe-cum-store which prides itself in being part of the BS2 community. Great big windows let light stream in over well-worn wood and a hotch-potch of furniture; there are posies in recycled bottles and an old piano in the corner waiting for a tickle. The central bar boasts a beast of a coffee machine and a selection of cakes and biscuits, while elsewhere there are pickles, jams and juices to stock up on.

On each visit the baristas (spectacularly bearded or ‘fro’d) are unfailingly kind and relaxed. A smooth and funky soundtrack flows at just the right level, making you wish other cafes nearby would take note and stop trying to turn their early morning shift into a tribute to their former rave days. The coffee is delicious, and that’s really all there is to it: simple, satisfying, and really rather nice indeed.

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Albatross Cafe is a recent addition to the increasingly hip North Street, now peppered with independent studios, a plethora of coffee shops and all the vintage homewares one could need. Taking a sidestep from the usual stark black-white-and-exposed-lighting interiors, it instead opts for a 70s San Francisco feel, with cacti, Formica tables and wicker chairs all brought together with a pleasing spearmint and pink colour scheme.

A simple food menu offers sourdough toast with spreads or avocado, pomegranate and feta; buttermilk pancakes or toasties and some delicious vegan baking with the best no-butter icing around. Coffees and cakes are served on beautiful handmade pottery (also on sale) and there’s a grown-up menu of cocktails and bar snacks for those who linger long enough for a sundowner.

Ever the sign of a properly relaxed establishment, the friendly owners could be found enjoying their own spot in the afternoon rays when their customer were attended to. Though they’re very new to Bedminster (no sign of a website, yet) there’s no doubt they’ll fit in just fine here.

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G’s Brunch Boat, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam – synonymous with long, beautiful people perched on bicycles; dozy teenagers weaving from coffee shop to coffee shop; a penchant for deep fried and round foodstuffs and, of course, canals.

This being our second visit to the city we’d already walked the main galleries and museums, squeezed into Anne Frank’s tiny house, acted cool in the red light district and got lost in the series of cobbled streets connected by bridges that all look remarkably alike. We were in search of a different way to explore the city, and had been pointed to a tourist attraction with a twist – G’s Brunch Boat, a hip-hoped themed canal barge that also happens to serve a great breakfast.

Having wandered the Keizersgracht multiple times, we eventually found our docking spot and clambered aboard with a handful of tourists and the laid-back staff. Once on our way we were settled in with a ‘sober’ (an alcohol-free drink) and a cup of coffee while a waiter dressed in shirt and leather apron took orders for our ‘tipsy’ – drinks that ranged from the classic Bloody Mary or mimosa to a glass of red wine or a Dutch beer. While a heavy hip-hop beat acted as the backdrop we were allowed to peruse our menus made from old records as Amsterdam life slid past. As the bucks fizz buzz kicked in we waved at locals tending to their bicycles and peeked into the opulent apartments above, making up lives for the gorgeous inhabitants framed in the city’s resolutely wonky windows.

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In honour of our host city we both chose waffles and bacon, and the plates were delivered with some speed from the tiny kitchen at the front. For dessert, more waffles (this time the syrup-filled kind), more rounds of coffee and drinks or food for those so inclined. Fully fed and slightly merry, we settled back to take in the rest of the trip, skirting around the space-age Nemo museum and heading out across open water before tucking back in to the narrow canals to return us to where we started. Waving (and weaving) as we left, we agreed – while not cheap, it’s hard to imagine a more relaxed and distinctive way to enjoy breakfast on the water.

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Price: €39.50 per person

 

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Workhouse Cafe, St Michael’s Hill, Bristol

IMG_1355[1]On a busy intersection at the base of St Michael’s steep Hill, the Workhouse Cafe sits quietly, awaiting the custom that comes in from the bustling roads and pavements around. As the name suggests, it’s a simple, unfussy affair with white tape spelling ‘CAFE’ on the windows, and boards chalked up with friendly mottos about coffee, hastily updated should the sun shine, or rain fall.

Inside there’s a handful of tables and a busy bar where coffee is made and orders are taken. On a bright Saturday, the place was busy, the staff rushing to and fro and doing their best to serve with a smile. With windows all around, it soon heats up, so nab a table by the door or order takeaway and head to their picnic benches by the church up the hill.

Despite it’s unassuming nature, the menu is surprising and the food rather good; the Egg Poacher opted for simple roasted grapefruit with cinnamon while I tucked into thick slices of sourdough French toast, slathered in maple syrup and topped with caramelised banana. All is sourced as locally as it can be, with coffee made from ethical beans. The Workhouse attracts diners from all corners of the city:workmen, medical students and office workers all make their way, and with its early morning opening hours and late night events it’s likely to continue to draw a crowd. A fairly recent addition to the Bristol brunch crowd, there are some kinks to iron out – but once they’re prepped to manage a flurry of covers all will be well here.

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