Having only just set up shop, Bakers & Co were opting for a soft launch of their new, San Francisco-inspired venture this weekend. The Gloucester Road contingent clearly had other ideas.
Thankfully we’d set the alarm for this one, breezing in by 9am to find only a few bleary-eyed parents perusing the freshly printed menus. By 10 there was a small queue forming at the bar and out the door, such has the buzz been about this latest addition from the folks behind the hugely popular Bravas on Cotham Hill.
The place is pure California, with sunshine-yellow awning, stripped wood and shining chrome contrasting Mexican ceramics in the kitchen, the central point to the neat space. Little picnic benches and a handful of stools along the bar accommodate a surprising number of covers, with just enough room in between to fit the regular traffic of buggies that will no doubt be seen here: offspring are catered for with their own portions and there’s an early morning small bites menu served from 8am to fuel those who have forgotten what the words ‘lie-in’ ever meant.
Making the most of our early start, we opted for salted chocolate and hazelnuts on sourdough and a pot of delicious blueberry yoghurt and pomegranate to go along with excellent coffee and freshly squeezed fruit juices. Chefs quietly prepped around us as we ate, great handfuls of coriander, avocados and limes being carried to and fro and a tower of freshly made maple buns appearing on the bar as if by magic. Later, the main menu proved even trickier to choose from with an eclectic selection ranging from huevos rancheros to the full Baker’s breakfast. The Egg Poacher went all out with pork belly, sweet potato bubble and squeak and (naturally) poached eggs, while I opted for the lighter but equally delicious goats cheese, honey and thyme on toast. The flavours pop and everything’s beautifully made, with a nod to their suppliers on the menu reinforcing the idea that everything has been carefully considered here.
Bakers & Co should get used to being this busy – with food this good, it’s destined to become a Gloucester Road favourite. Lucky, then, that they’re also blessed with a lovely staff to manage the hungry hoards (even the chefs got stuck in to clearing tables with a smile). My advice? Get there early. This is soon to become the hottest brunch ticket in town.
Price: from £3.50 (starters menu) to £9.95 (Baker’s breakfast).
Zazus has been a Bristol regular for a few years now; for a time, they moved restlessly from area to area, not quite content in their pokier spaces in Stokes Croft or Clifton village. Finally they’ve settled in the northern quarter of Gloucester Road and it seems a perfect match: as couples move towards Horfield in search of a strip of grass and space for a toddler, ZaZus offers a family friendly space around the corner with just the right amount of street cred to keep their friends coming, too.
Toby stays at the helm, moving around the floor like a foodie, moody rock star, but with time to greet familiar faces. The rest of his staff are good looking and efficient, though less warm in the bustle of a busy Saturday service. And they are busy – it doesn’t take long for the wooden tables to be filled, and even in gloomier climes the outdoor area will fill. There’s a distressed, Scandinavian feel to the surroundings with wooden floors and cool tones, there’s modern art on the walls and an electro soundtrack playing in the background. As you’d expect from the crowd, there are crayons, high chairs and stickers books to keep small ones entertained – and noise. Lots and lots of noise.
The food, however, is dependably well-sourced, using quality ingredients from largely local sources. Egg fans are well served: the Egg Poacher’s chorizo and black pudding hash with poached eggs and hollandaise were declared “awesome”, while you can have them served every which way elsewhere on the menu. I was less impressed with the veggie breakfast – the bubble and squeak was slightly bitter, the spinach a little too well-cooked – but in fairness my own ovaphobia had it’s part to play here. Their coffee, however, is excellent.
Zazus’s has a loyal following and it’s serves it’s neighbourhood well. Perhaps in a few years’ time we’ll be back with our own bundle of joy in tow; for now, I’ll leave the colouring-in books for someone else to enjoy.
Price: from £3.50 (bacon bap) to £7.50 (chorizo and black pudding hash).
The Thali cafés have been blazing a sustainable trail in Bristol for years with their original restaurant in Easton soon being joined by sibling ventures in Montpelier, Clifton and Totterdown. Their newest inclusion serves lucky Southville – a place quickly becoming the place for hip young families seeking good living without skimping on the delis, bistros and pubs run by the tattoos-and-vintage-hair-dos crowd more readily available north of the river.
They’ve landed next to the Tobacco Factory in a huge, warehouse-like space, but the food and the service are just as good as in their more intimate venues. Breakfast is a recent addition, but shouldn’t be missed – you can opt for a traditional aloo paratha or a more familiar full English, though the latter brings an Indian flavour in gunpowder potatoes, coriander infused sausage and homemade tomato chutney; all meals come with hot, milky chai which transported me back to my days of traversing Kerala by train (all that’s missing is the wallah).
They’re generous with the portions and happy to add extras, so the Egg Poacher’s carnivorous breakfast came with the King of All Breakfast Additions – lightly toasted halloumi – as well as all the regulars you might hope for (excellent crusty toast, fried tomatoes and great, thick rashers of bacon). They are resolutely friendly, and all are welcome – children can (and will) run free and have their own portions while those looking to start the weekend properly can opt for a pint of Kingfisher, straight from the tap.
Price: from £1.50 (Chai & toast) to £7.25 (Thali festival fry up).