Tag Archives: bikes

Spoke & Stringer, Harbourside, Bristol

In a little corner of the ever-developing Harbourside there is a shop-cum-cafe that is the pantheon of all things trendy. The shop is artfully decorated with expensive jumpers, leather goods and a casually placed bicycles that are worth more than the rest of the gear combined. Their website is scattered with headlines like cryptic crossword clues: ‘Triumph Bonneville Bobber Unveiling Event’, ‘Wavelength 245’; messages clearly meant for those initiated only.

The cafe next door takes a similar approach, the subtle signage and roped-off outdoor area giving the impression of exclusivity that even stretched to a small queue of people waiting hopefully at the door. It being the first sunny Saturday of the spring, the tables inside and out were full, and creatively pierced staff did a fine job ferrying rounds of drinks to patient diners as the kitchen struggled to meet the demands of the well-scarfed hordes.

Finding ourselves perched on high stools in a much coveted sun trap we glanced through the menus and it was soon clear that the food matched the fashionable surrounds: avocado, samphire, harissa and chimichurri were all regulars, ingredients combined in interesting ways to complement the more standard offerings of poached eggs on toast, shakshuka or a full breakfast. It all sounded undeniably delicious, but, with half an eye on our bank accounts, it was a struggle to find anything for much less than a tenner.

Feeling a little like the poor cousins at the wedding we decided to go rogue, opting instead for food meant as sides or starters, hidden as they were under a section named ‘Custom Parts’. This caused a moment of confusion that led to the Egg Poacher’s fresh croissant arriving well before my sourdough toast, but the added touch of spiced plum jam and real butter rolled in salt flakes made for a delicious start to the day.

As tables emptied and quickly filled again around us, we were left to enjoy our coffees and the waterside view. It’s a fabulous spot for people watching, where boat folk, families and modish couples in matching sunglasses bring their variously pedigreed dogs to mingle. With summer fast approaching there’s no doubt Spoke & Stringer will continue to fill – if you save the pennies and make an early start, there won’t be many finer positions for a sunny brunch.

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Price: mains from £6.95 (banana panackes) – £9.50 (Full English). ‘Custom parts’ from £3.50 (toasted sourdough).

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Mud Dock, Harbourside, Bristol

As soon as we’d taken our seats in the Mud Dock, the Egg Poacher declared it was like “sitting in the Death Star” – mercifully a reference to the giant circular window looking out towards the Thekla, and not a tyrannical manager with a thing for patent leather. In fact, the views are one of the best things about the place; there’s a large patio overlooking the harbour that’s popular in summer, and even we were bathed in intermittent rays from our spot inside. Working through our first coffees of the morning (bean freaks may wish to order double shots to wake up properly), we perused a short brunch menu with a traditional bent. As the fresh croissants were busy being baked we opted for a pig fest instead: my bacon and eggs (cooked to within an inch of their lives, at my request) were fine, though the toast a little pallid for my liking. EP’s full English had all the reconstituted swine you’d expect, but there’s better black pudding to be found in town. The staff were polite and efficient, and softly playing world music brought a pleasant summer feel to a squally January day.  It’s not cheap, so expect to pay for your setting – though that in itself is rather lovely. We were free to read the broadsheets back to back while tables started to fill around us and our waiter even helped with a crossword clue or two. Breakfast here is perfectly acceptable, though it’s not one of my favourite spots. It is, however, ideal for those on two wheels: the co-owned Bike Shed below can service your bicycle while you dine.

Price: from £3.50 (croissants with jam) to £7.95 (Big Breakfast).

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