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.