Dining Out On Bristol's Whiteladies Road (2006)
As you climb 'The Strip', otherwise known as Whiteladies Road in Bristol, you soon notice that just about every other building is a restaurant. Maybe it's because walking up steep hills gives you a healthy appetite? Whatever the reason, Whiteladies Road is the hottest area for dining out in the city and at weekends you can hardly move for the crowds. Here's a selection of some of the most interesting eateries on the strip.
A restaurant that consistently wins awards is Quartier Vert (motto: 'Grow, cook, eat, live') which emphasises traditional, simple cooking using ingredients that are organic and carefully sourced, like the pork which comes from Providence Farm, Devon. The focus is on provincial European food, and you can either go for light tapas dishes downstairs in the caf or plump for la carte dining either at the rear of the restaurant or upstairs, choosing between dishes like eighteen-hour cider-braised pork with colcannon and roasted carrots, and parsnip and apple soup with crme fraiche. The atmosphere is unpretentious but classy, the service is excellent and the wine list, with over 80 wines, is spectacular. And if the delicious food tempts you to further your own culinary skills, there's a cookery school upstairs as well. Quartier Vert (pictured above) is also one of the prime movers behind Bordeaux Quay, the new complex of restaurants, brasseries, delis and cookery school opening later this year down by the harbour.
Just across the road is the Picture House, an attractive restaurant recently opened by Nick Armitage in what used to be the Dog and Duck - and prior to that the foyer of the Whiteladies Picture House. It has a friendly, informal feel, and fittingly its brown walls are covered with photos of film stars from yesteryear. What is the name of that actress, you wonder as you tuck into your bio-dynamically reared Tamworth pork from Shedbush Farm in Dorset - just like Quartier Vert, the Picture House places great emphasis on carefully sourced meat. As well as the la carte menu there's an extensive tapas menu. Next door to the Picture House is Hullabaloos, a smart and very attractive split-level restaurant serving first-rate contemporary European cuisine. Unusually for fine dining places, you can bring your own drink, a good way of keeping the bill from rocketing upwards, and not surprisingly Hullaballoos is very popular for private parties. Chic and stylish dcor, excellent food and the absence of a frightening drinks bill at the end of your meal - it's a winning combination.
Deasons, under the capable hands of proprietor and head chef Jason Deason, invariably wins high praise as one of the best restaurants in Bristol. The dcor is elegant and contemporary, with soft lighting and fresh flowers, and the food is always delicious and beautifully presented. The cuisine is modern English with influences from all over the world, with the seasonal menu containing anything from Thai-style crab cakes to pan-roasted chicken breast stuffed with goats' cheese, served with bubble and squeak and slow-roasted tomatoes. Out at the front a new caf area is about to open on decking overlooking Whiteladies Road, where you'll be able to sit and watch the world go by. On up the road, Fine Line is a large bar serving dependable food, from salads, tapas and other light bites, through sandwiches to more substantial dishes like beef goulash. It's a popular place, spacious, well lit and with comfortable sofas dotted around, and always full of a lively buzz.
The ever-popular Las Iguanas offers tasty and authentic South American food at reasonable prices, not to mention a range of cocktails all based on cachaa (the national drink of Brazil, in case you didn't know). This, together with the stylish dcor and the lively Latin beats, are what has made Las Iguanas into such a successful chain of restaurants. Staying with the Latin American theme, just a few doors away is Tequila Max, a roomy family-run Mexican restaurant on two floors. It's a popular party venue with, as you might expect, a huge range of tequila, including 200-year-old Jose Cuervo! Budokan, in the Clifton Down Shopping Centre, is a cavernous restaurant serving pan-Asian cuisine - Chinese, Thai, Malaysian and Japanese. The freshness and variety of their dishes - wherever possible they buy free-range, outdoor-reared meat - has won them many plaudits. Plonk youself down on the benches in this highly popular and excellent-value restaurant and savour some of the best Asian cuisine around.
On up the hill, Colleys Supper Rooms is always a treat; dine in plush red velvet-covered surroundings and pretend you live like this all the time, eating six-course meals in Edwardian style. There's no menu - instead you're presented with examples of the different dishes on offer. Colley's is an experience not to be missed, lavish and luxurious. Near the top of Whiteladies Road, the Ocean Caf is a small and very inviting restaurant, a long, narrow space with an extra room at the back, all bright and attractively decorated with contemporary art on the white walls. There's a special breakfast menu - you could try the toasted Castilian bread or the home-cured bacon sandwich - a tapas menu and a special party menu. There's lots of seafood - Cornish oysters, goujons of lemon sole with herb mayonnaise - and other tempting dishes like roast quail with tagliatelle and rocket pesto.
As a total contrast, Stark, on the opposite side of the road, is an extraordinary restaurant-bar - a kitsch-fest, as it describes itself - with masses of different rooms, all decorated completely differently. Choose between loud flock wallpaper, fancy plasterwork, odd chairs, fantastic chandeliers, and a homely red room with bungy sofas. It's quite an experience. The menu varies from light bites through steaks and pies to a traditional organic Sunday roast.
Read More Features: Green's Dining Room (2008) | Eating Italian In Bristol And Bath (2008) | Bordeaux Quay (2007) | What's New For Bristol & Bath Diners (2007) | Cavendish Restaurant (2006) | Family Friendly Places To Eat (2006) | The Square (2006) | Dining Out On Bristol's Whiteladies Road (2006) - Bell's Diner (2005) | Dining Out In North Somerset (2005) | Where To Do Lunch In Bath (2005) | The Glass Boat (2005) | Firehouse Rotisserie (2004) | Fine Dining In Bristol (2004)