Bristol Harbourside part 3

I have missed at least one cafe – they sprout like fungi don’t they – and a restaurant, the Shiraz, which I have yet to patronise, so not quite all on Harbourside. The Gallery, a cafe at 133 Hotwell Road is a little gem which seems to open according to some occult rule I cannot quite interpret. Lovely. Perfect coffee.

After which the casual stroller must face a long and uncertain hike, hounded and harassed by the aforementioned joggers and cyclists until the next oasis shimmers into sight. The Bag O’ Nails which lurks at the base of Jacob Wells Road like a portal into another cosmos, one in which the feline animal is dominant. Since my last visit they seem to have put up a sign which may say (I could only glimpse it from the doorway) , ‘No Pub Crawl Idiots’, why this may be I cannot imagine. Pork pies are available, a local delicacy, evidently, accompanied by mustard in pots. Described by tourists and other riff-raff as, ‘a proper boozer’.

A very short amble eastwards brings one to The Myrtle Tree, a favoured haunt of extra-terrestrials such as the famous Yoda  and although food as we know it is rarely available the quality of the company more than compensates. Baguettes may be offered. Check your health insurance before imbibing.

There a couple of chirpy but forgettable coffee houses closer to the water amongst the astronomically priced shoe-box apartments but why venture there unless awaiting the ferry? Or some other encounter. And the Spin Bar, formerly the Salt, which has music sometimes.

So onward and very slightly upwards to the Three Tuns, a haunt of the lunchtime scholar and a good place to find music now and then, for no charge whatsoever. Burgers and similar stuff are produced to a quality unknown in the western hemisphere, with chips. So I am told. Food is unavailable in the evenings I believe, although my information may have dated as there are new proprietors.

Any further jaunting along Deanery Road will inevitably lead the weary and barely refreshed traveller into the fleshpots of the Bristol metropolis, with all the inevitable disappointment that would entail. So, dear reader, we will turn to the right and venture southwards through the new-built desert of Cannons Marsh. Oh, but that it might have retained it’s former dilapidated, but honest glory, a urine soaked scrubland of abandoned warehouses; that was not to be and so one may enjoy the delights of a Marks and Spenser food outlet, nestled nearby a casino, which, with other similar excrescences serve to rook the foolish adventurer of their abundant surplus cash.

The eateries pile against each other, overwhelmed by the flood of 30-somethings desperate to part with their hard-earned in return for some unleavened bread and a spread of tomato paste garnished by unspeakable factory-farmed and factory-made salami stuff, or similar. And some over-priced fizzy alcohol to wash down and sit on the concoction to hold it in place.

Bristol Harbourside part 2

Before crossing the swing bridge and leaving Spike Island (an area of great historic significance and thousands of homes, an arts complex, restaurants, M Shed museum, water activities, steam train &c,) I should mention the Chef’s Table, which is wonderful place to eat but is a proper occasion, good for anniversaries and such, and not cheap.  Unmissable for the gourmet.

The attractive Pump House arrives just 50 metres on and directly facing the Nova Scotia across the lock, a little up-market and with really decent food. Quieter mid-week when the Clifton crowd stay home.  Cheescake to die for, and chefs who like cooking.  The current landlord will talk about food if he gets a chance.  Save up and then enjoy.

Or, for a more run-of-the-weekday sort of place there is the Rose of Denmark.  Stumble terrified across the three lanes of bridge traffic onto Humphry Davey way, (that’s the man who invented nitrous oxide, rubber balloons and the phrase, ‘die laughing’) then a short stagger to Hotwell Road and in we go. Not exactly charming but a friendly pub food with some attention to detail and good value.  Curry night on Wednesday, quite a few veggie dishes, good all-rounder.  Live music sometimes.

From the Rose one can gaze across the Cumberland Basin to Lockside, a surprisingly busy daytime eatery built into and under the concrete Plimsoll Bridge slipway.  Breakfasts of the ordinary sort.

Just around the corner lies The Bear, Hotwells.  Not a place I drop into often, atmosphere is rather claustrophobic to my taste; the Sunday lunch is English traditional and has a good rep.  A local inn, for local people?  Surrounded on all sides by heavy traffic and the frequent siren scream of emergency vehicles heading into the South Bristol netherworld, it exudes an unusual charm, which includes a quite large outdoor area.  However it does enjoy redemption in the form of the Be-Bop Club, Friday night jazz, which seriously must be checked out.  Hotwells slummers hangout.

Round to the Merchant’ Arms, a bar smaller than many micros, which has cheese and onion rolls and beer.  Luckily I like cheese and onion, within limits.  Clientele have interesting stories, often involving complex illegal activities which they are happy to regale you with, for an indefinite period of time.  How we laughed as the long winter nights crawled by.  One chap explained a scientific conundrum to me, as to how the speed of light is 180,000 miles an hour (Disc World, perhaps), which causes anomalies. Seemingly. Perhaps it is an effect of the tides, which are famously large in these parts. Although I’m not certain that the punters in this pub are aware that there are tides nearby, unless they are unfortunate enough to fall and encounter them.

The Adam and Eve, a fine establishment only a short climb up the hill from Dowry Square. I used to work in Dowry Square, many years ago. Short climb. Apparently it has nine beers and four ciders.  Uphill though.

As far as I can tell – after extensive research – the next watering hole is the world-famous-in-Bristol Mardyke, which according to Google closes at some point, though not at any time known to Einstein, who often drank there (Martin Einstein, Withywood).  It may be more accurate to say it opens at 12 noon.  One of the few pubs in England (all Scottish pubs have them I am told by Brian, a native of that fine land, where any food item may be battered and deep fried) to have it’s own fish and chip shop. That’s it’s only worthwhile note, these days.  Although I find it is unusually easy to make the acquaintance of attractive young(ish) ladies. Why that may be I cannot fathom.

So, to the Grain Barge, a floating conceit, one of several around the docks which offers food and beverage to the unwary, and even the wary, should they be overcome by a craving for fluids in these climate warming times.  A fine ship and a popular venue with those desperate to escape meaningless employment in the pulsing city (disclaimer: the Bristol pulse may have it’s own gently rhythm, rather slower than elsewhere ), who may desire to entertain and thereby win friends and influence their uncle, as a famous man said.  Could do with a more interesting menu to say the least. Has original art by local artists from time to time.

tbc.