Bristol is looking pretty brilliant at the moment. As the city shakes off winter, even on grey days, the coloured houses look brighter. When the sun does shine the river sparkles. Festival season and a new Aardman themed arts trail will make for a brilliant summer. If you live locally or are thinking of visiting Bristol, you might want to try out Being Brunel or one of the new cocktails openings. You might fancy going plastic free, or be burger hungry. I’ve some inside apps for getting the best of the city (and saving money too).
First up, one of the city’s big attractions is the SS Great Britain, Brunel’s great ship sits in dry dock in the harbour. When we finally got around to visiting SS Great Britain we loved it and have since returned again and again. April saw the opening of an additional building on the site, and new visitor attraction: ‘Being Brunel’. We were lucky enough to see the exhibition on its opening weekend*. Dedicated to Brunel the man. If you thought engineers might be boring, think again: Brunel was cut from a very different cloth.
From his childhood inspiration; his father was also an engineer, to his insatiable quest to push projects and ideas forward. Complex and obsessive, he smoked around 40+ cigars a day and the tall hat was designed to make him more imposing. The exhibition displays previously unseen letters and diaries. In a reconstruction of his office, you can pop on his hat and be your own engineer. Literally, step inside his imaginative mind via an immerse presentation. It is a fascinating and clever exhibition with lots of interactive displays that will keep the very youngest happy, whilst absorbing the oldest Brunel fans.
Cocktails are shaking off their happy hour/Club Tropicana vibe and getting seriously cool in Bristol, with two new bars. Both with an emphasis new blends and imaginative flavours, no luridly bright piña colada here.
The Florist is a cocktail bar with a botanical theme. Insta-worthy walls of flowers and very pretty drinks. When I visited, I tried ‘Rhubarb in bloom’ which contains Slingsby rhubarb gin and a mix of fruit and ginger liqueurs. In the name of research, I also gave a simple G&T a try, and an ‘elderflower and lychee daiquiri’ which was rum based and a blend of elderflower, lychee and lemon flavours. Forget paper umbrellas, these drinks come in pastel shades with sprigs of herbs. Big glasses and bright flavours. The Florist is a sensory experience in bar form.
For those that might not want a floral daiquiri in a stem glass, there is a range of ales and a kids menu, making it worth a visit for families, not just a destination for millennials. I (extensively) tried the nibbles menu; kale crips, mussels popcorn, sweet potato fries and gloriously fat and delicious olives and can pronounce them all good.
The second new cocktail destination (just up the road from The Florist) is Lost and Found, I haven’t visited, but I’ve spoken to plenty of people that have. The feedback on the drinks is wholly positive.
In a city with burger opportunities a-plenty, almost every week there seems to be a new opening promising an ever better burger. I’m giving my local burger bar Owwee a shout out. I’m told by meat eaters that the burgers are extremely tasty, this is evidenced by regular queues out on to the pavement. As a vegetarian burger joints aren’t my first dining choice. However, I’ve become a big fan of ‘the good burger’ a caramelised onion and lentil burger with pickled vegetables, gherkins and relish, it’s vegan (I de-vegan with a thick slice of melted cheese). The skinny fries are moorish and I’m not prepared to share a portion.
App based loves
Inside tips for Bristol. These are a couple of good local apps doing fine things, find them in the app store on your smart device.
A simple idea, and frankly, more useful than a greeting card. Buy a hot drink digitally and sent it to a friend. They receive a notification, download the app and head to a cafe to redeem a cup of their favourite beverage and at a time to suit them. What a nice idea, give a Huggg.
Daily Food deals with an emphasis on independents. At today’s date, I could get a vegan chickpea pitta shawarma for £4.50 rather than £5.20 or a “heartwarming” pasta bowl for £4.75 over the normal price of £7.00. Maybe, a mid-afternoon pick-me-up for any cake and coffee for £3.75, whilst the other app-free customers pay £6.70. Pay via the Wriggle app, receive a code on your smartphone, wave the code at your chosen food outlet and brunch, lunch, dinner or cake is served.
Finally, No More Plastic
If you, like me, you wept at the Blue Planet plastic episode and want to make a difference. A new store in Bristol is aiming to help solve our obsession with plastic packing. On North Street in BS3 you can now go plastic-free shopping at Zero Green Bristol. The store, run by two women, sells cereals, pasta, herbs, cleaning materials and all sorts of everyday items with minimal packaging. Take your own containers or buy reusable ones in the store.
Disclaimer: *We were invited along to Being Brunel. All words and opinions are honest and my own.
I attended a launch event at The Florist, I wasn’t asked to share my thoughts. I thought it was too good to keep to myself.