Though construction has been going on for some time now, Whapping Wharf still seemed to spring up from nowhere, the once dead space next to Bristol’s iconic cranes suddenly crammed with sleek timber-fronted cafes and fashionably renovated containers.
The Wharf is very much in the vein of development elsewhere, pointed towards a young and affluent clientele most likely furnished with at least one toddler and a spaniel (either of whom could be called Rufus; a toss up as to which one is on a leash). On a frosty January morning brightly cagouled couples manoeuvred their ‘transport systems’ and welly-clad tots between huddles of beanie wearing hipsters, with only a stream of boisterous City fans trundling past breaking the carefully cultivated calm.
Within a relatively tight space there are a host of eateries to chose from, as well as a wholefood supermarket, a grandly named flower emporium and a couple of independent off licenses. Sporting fuzzy heads from Friday’s over-indulgence we opted first for Pigsty, one of the many new businesses encased in upcycled containers – and this one is full of bacon. Run by three brothers behind The Jolly Hog and one rugby player, these are folks who take provenance very seriously. Promising meat from happy pigs, their sausages were as flavoursome as you’d hope, and while their coffees were small they were sapid and satisfying, too.
After a meander around the M Shed and the excellent Wildlife Photography exhibition our need for sustenance returned, and where Whapping Wharf is concerned your only ever a spaniels’ throw from an artisanal roast or two.
Enticed by great windows luxuriating in the winter sun we soon joined the queue at Mokoko Coffe & Bakery, a neat space filled with wooden booths and skinny stools, all within view of the open kitchen. While busy staff were stretched to deal with the weekend crowds, a beautifully made almond and pear muffin and some satisfyingly large coffees eventually gave us all the energy we needed to make the long journey home.
Last weekend it was wet. Cats-and-dogs, heaven’s opened, where’s Noah when you need him? wet. As we squelched through Queen’s Square, mulched leaves fusing to our feet as rain drops filled our pockets, a small black sign glowed in the distance, it’s white Swedish font making it look all the world like welcoming Bang & Olufsen store, but with promises of coffee.
And very nice coffee it is too. As well as the house there’s a guest blend that makes all the right provenance noises – single origin, natural process – and the baristas make each cup carefully, no matter what the well-heeled clientele request (soya-decaff lattes proved particularly popular. Shame really.) The interiors match the minimalist signage, with the ubiquitous exposed lightbulbs, brushed steel and plain wooden tables made softer by the low ceilings, quietly cool music and a well-formed list of menu options chalked up on the wall.
As well as simple options – toast from many breads, fresh pastries, granola – there are some bolder offerings like brioche French toast with chai spiced plums and maple syrup, or mushrooms with thyme wrapped goats cheese and a poached egg; the Egg Poacher’s eponymous breakfast choice came with smoked bacon, harissa and rocket in a roll that was artfully crammed into his face, lest the eggy goodness escape down his chin.
During the week this place fills with busy bankers, office workers and freelancers, dropping in for giant toasties or stocked salad boxes. At the weekend, the pace slows and shaggy-haired creatives, offensively well-off students and day-glo’d gym folks can take their time over brunch that’s served ’til 2pm. With another site recently opened in Clifton, there’s little doubt that Spicer & Cole are here to stay. Head for a corner table and settle in.
Price: From £2.25 (toast) to £6.95 (brioche French toast & chai spiced plums)
There are some mornings where it’s perfectly necessary to hunt out booze at breakfast time.
Our heads foggy from last nights’ festivities we wandered the lanes of Brighton, navigating a warren of retro emporiums, free-range market vendors and psychedelic postcard shops to find ourselves, at last, at the sea. Greeted by the somewhat sinister scene of the burnt-out pier with a backdrop of brooding storm clouds, we made haste towards The New Club, a diner with a reputation for encouraging drinking way before the watershed.
There is food too, of course. For those able to get out of bed before 2pm they have a robust brunch menu with a heavy emphasis on reconstituted pig. Brilliantly, bacon features just about everywhere: atop their infamous ‘dirty burgers’ and even in the booze. For The New Club is the home of the ‘Breakfast Club’, a pig-infused Bloody Mary with pickles and their own special spicy sauce thrown in for good measure.
This is not for those who think tomatoes are meant for pasta sauce and pizzas; in all honesty, it spoke a little too much of passata for my taste, too. But the bacon-infused vodka is a stroke of genius, and those who enjoy a Bloody Mary or Caesar will be happy here. For those of a more delicate disposition, there’s a host of other brunch cocktails with enough liquor to stave off any two-day hangover (my Kentucky fizz – Woodford Reserve bourbon, Prosecco & fresh mint – was divine).
If you need something to soak up the liquor, aim to get their before the lunch menu kicks in. Their warm pretzels with salted caramel and buttermilk pancakes (with, you guessed it, maple bacon) have had good reviews but their burgers were a little tasteless and heavy on the condiments. Then again, two cocktails in and you’ll just about forgive anything.
Price: from £2.50 (toast & jam) to £9 (full breakfast). Cocktails from £7 (Bloody Mary).