Bristol’s stalwart eateries have been joined by an alluring new band of culinary companions. Kathryn Lewis rounded up the restaurants that are raising the city’s cooking creds. It’s time to update your bucket list …
Paco Tapas, Harbourside
The third and most recent instalment at the former General Hospital by Sanchez Brothers earned Bristol its fourth star for 2018, as Paco Tapas (pictured above) joined sister restaurant Casamia in the Michelin starred rankings.
More ‘small plates and hands-on’ than ‘crisp linen and cut glass’, the contemporary space honours the family’s Andalusian heritage with a daily bill of classic tapas dishes executed with exhilarating precision and served with a cracking sherry collection.
Visit for the best Iberico de bellota this side of the Bay of Biscay, blushed eight-year-old ex-dairy cow beef and seasonal veg from the farmers’ market grilled over apple wood. Make sure to secure one of the stools at the steel clad bar so you can watch the cooking in action while you stuff your face with delicious morsels.
Wellbourne Restaurant, Clifton Village
By day, Clifton’s latest culinary conquest (pictured below) deals in locally roasted coffee, carefully crafted open sandwiches and its signature throwback of the vol au vent, before dimming the lights for an evening session in ingredient-led dining.
Seasoned chefs Ross Gibbens and Michael Kennedy (formerly of Dabbous in Bloomsbury) curate impeccable produce in dishes deserving of Wellbourne’s slick tiled and brass trimmed interior. The small collection of starters, mains and puds offers combinations such as grilled English sweetcorn, runner beans, crispy chicken skin and Piment d’Espelette, and duck, wild sour cherries and sea beet at reasonable prices for this level of edible indulgence. With over 20 wines by the glass, the drinks list keeps its part of the bargain, too.
Bulrush Restaurant, Cotham
Starting out as a London supper club, George Livesey and Katherine Craughwell’s neighbourhood restaurant, Bulrush, on the border of Cotham and Kingswood has garnered attention from foodies both in the city and further afield.
Head chef George pairs his classical French training with a passion for foraged and seasonal ingredients in eight course tasting menus which play with diners’ concepts of cookery.
Inventive and elegant elements such as Montgomery’s Cheddar custard, pine mousse and apricot stone ice cream bring the magic to Bulrush’s humble dining room.
An à la carte alternative is available from Tuesday to Thursday, though at £50 per head the tasting menu is tough to turn down.
Wilks Restaurant, Redland
Earning Bristol a second Michelin star in 2014, James Wilkins and Christine Vayssade were astonished to get a gong just a year after opening.
Cutting his teeth in the kitchen of some of France’s gastronomic greats before working in Istanbul and Japan, James’ intricate tasting menus at Wilks draw on techniques from his classical training, and flavour inspiration from his culinary travels.
Dishes such as caramelised veal sweetbread with truffle crust, uchiki kuri pumpkin puree, organic kales, Perigord truffle and Madeira jus demonstrate James’ command of the art of combining flavours.
Recent renovations to the smart dining room warrant booking a babysitter, donning a foxy dress and celebrating in style with a homemade morello gin and tonic and the seven course Menu Gourmand.
Adelina Yard, Queen Quay
Tucked away on a cobbled street just off leafy Queen Square, Adelina Yard (pictured above) is a peaceful spot in which to indulge in refined food and sip New World wines while watching the boats bob in the harbour below.
Settling down in Bristol after cultivating an impressive set of CVs in London, chef patrons Jamie Randall and Liv Barry introduced the city to their European style of cooking through a series of pop-ups, before launching the restaurant in December 2015.
The duo’s pared-back, produce-led dishes – wood pigeon with jerusalem artichoke, granola and mushroom for example – are best sampled via the modestly-priced tasting menus. Adventurous eaters can get their kicks with the surprise ten course chef’s tasting menu with matched wines.
Beccy and Sam Leach, the muddy-kneed couple behind Birch, take field-to-fork eating to sustainable new heights at their neighbourhood haunt.
Nourishing their guests from Wednesday through to Saturday, the rest of the week is spent on the outskirts of the city tending to their smallholding which contributes around 90 per cent of the ingredients for the daily-changing menu.
Small plates (designed to be fought over) are inspired by the veg patch pickings. Meat in dishes such as salt beef with runner beans, damson and cucumber is sourced as whole or half carcass, then butchered and cured by Sam and his small kitchen team. A homemade 2016 vintage cider crafted from allotment apples is a new addition to the natural-led wine and drinks list this winter.
Wilsons Restaurant, Redland
There’s no overwhelmingly lengthy menu at Jan Ostle and Mary Wilson’s ‘English bistro’ on Chandos Road. Instead, the day’s offering from the kitchen – three starters, three mains and three desserts – is chalked up on the blackboard, along with a small but impressive bill of bottles.
‘I wanted to create a relaxed and inclusive setting where people can enjoy humble food at an affordable price,’ explains Jan. ‘We have a small plot of land where Mary grows produce for the restaurant and I often shoot the game that I cook in the kitchen: what we can’t source ourselves we get from small local businesses.’
A resplendent review from Rayner has earned Wilsons a hefty waiting list on weekends, though visit for lunch in the week and you have a good chance of bagging a table.
Box-E, Wapping Wharf
Shipping container-turned-14 cover Box-E restaurant (pictured above) must be one of the country’s smallest dining spaces. Owner and chef Elliott Lidstone heads up the petite open-plan kitchen, mastering a modest menu of modern British dishes while wife Tessa composes the organic, biodynamic and sustainably inspired wine list.
Getting the low-down on the latest crops and cuts from a tight-knit troop of local suppliers, Elliott’s perfectly presented plates, such as salt baked and pickled turnip, autumn truffle and powdered cep, are guided by his passion for seasonal distinction. The four stools at the chef’s table are particularly popular – book ahead as the wait for a Saturday night spot currently stands at a couple of months.