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Josh Eggleton's guide to Bristol

Josh Eggleton's guide to Bristol

by Great British Chefs 25 July 2018

This very trendy city is home to some fantastic restaurants, bars and cafés, many of which are relaxed, casual and surprisingly affordable. Bristol’s own Josh Eggleton takes us on a whistlestop tour of his favourite haunts.

Where do you find the UK’s most exciting food scene right now? London? Manchester? Brighton? All of these cities have some incredible food and drink on offer, but for many serious foodies, it’s Bristol that makes their eyes light up more than anywhere else. In the past decade, Bristol has become a thriving hub of gastronomy, with an independent spirit giving restaurateurs and entrepreneurs the confidence to start something of their own. This has resulted in a city teeming with small casual restaurants, serving delicious food in relaxed surroundings that make the most of (often local) ingredients.

If anyone is a figurehead for Bristol’s food scene, it’s Josh Eggleton. While his Michelin-starred pub The Pony and Trap is a few miles away in Chew Magna, he has been involved in all sorts of projects in the city limits, and currently has three restaurants there (as well as being involved in Bristol Beer Factory). We couldn’t think of anyone better to take us round the city to show us the highlights.

The majority of Josh’s recommendations are based at CARGO, a new development at the city’s Whapping Wharf, which makes a day out flitting between each one very easy. CARGO is often credited with giving the whole of Bristol a boost thanks to its collection of small independent food and drink businesses. However, if you find yourself further into the city, there are a good number of suggestions for there too.

Woky Ko

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Steamed buns, noodle dishes and more from across all of Asia are served at Woky Ko, a small casual restaurant owned by MasterChef finalist Larkin Cen. There’s a touch of the Momofuku about it, with fiery, punchy, bold flavours taking inspiration from across the continent to create some very tasty food. Larkin has recently opened Woky Ko Kauto, a second site in Clifton, so there’s double the chance to try his incredible cooking.

Josh says: ‘Larkin and I met years ago and after MasterChef he set up a place in Cardiff. He came to Bristol to host a pop-up I organised, and when CARGO was being developed I told him about it and eventually he opened up Woky Ko. It’s where I go when I want really fresh food or some great noodles.’

Unit 7, CARGO, Wapping Wharf, Gaol Ferry Steps, Bristol BS1 6WP. wokyko.com

Root

Recently named the fifty-seventh best restaurant in the UK despite only being open a short while, Josh’s veg-centric restaurant Root is one of the most exciting places to eat in the city. Originally opened as a chicken restaurant (Chicken Shed), Josh and head chef Rob Howell turned it into somewhere that gives vegetables just as much as attention as fish and meat.

Unit 9, CARGO, Gaol Ferry Steps, Bristol BS1 6WP. eatdrinkbristolfashion.co.uk/root

Baked

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On the corner of Oxford Street in Totterdown, ex-chef Ashley Symons has dedicated his career to creating incredibly good loaves of artisan bread at his small bakery Baked. Having worked in various kitchens as a chef, he turned to baker Richard Bertinet to gain a deep understanding of baking, looking at traditional fermentation techniques and how chemical reactions can have an impact on the taste and texture of a loaf. There are, of course, plenty of delicious cakes and pastries to taste your way through as well.

Josh says: ‘Baked is a bakery right next to my house and I go there all the time because they bake artisanal loaves every day, which are great. The sourdough in particular is really good.’

123 Oxford Street, Bristol, BS3 4RL. bakedbristol.co.uk

The Bristol Cheesemonger

British cheese is now as good as anything you’d find on the continent (and often a lot better), so a good cheese shop is always going to do well in a foodie city. The Bristol Cheesemonger might only be small, but it is an award-winning shop that sells the best cheeses of the South West.

Unit 8, CARGO 2, Museum Street, Bristol, BS1 6ZA. bristol-cheese.co.uk

Corks at CARGO

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There are pubs and bars for every kind of occasion all over Bristol, but Corks manages to be both a fantastic wine shop and somewhere you’d like to stop for a quick glass of something tasty. The focus is certainly on wine, but there are plenty of beers and spirits to peruse as well. Try one of the wines by the glass that are on offer whilst you’re there, or pay a small corkage fee to open any of the bottles on sale to drink in the shop or on one of the tables outside (when the sun’s shining).

Josh says: ‘Corks is an independent wine store that’s been going for years in Bristol, and there are another two shops in the city. But when CARGO opened up it was a natural place for a third site as it represents the independent businesses in Bristol. They have such a fantastic range of drinks.’

Unit 6, CARGO, Bristol, BS1 6WP. corksofbristol.com/cargo

Salt & Malt

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Bristol certainly isn’t short of fish and chip shops, but the one that stands out from the crowd is definitely Josh’s own Salt & Malt. Josh’s first job was at a chippy, so it seems fitting that he’s come full-circle and opened his own. Expect incredibly fresh fish and some seriously chunky, proper chip shop chips – the best thing about Salt & Malt’s fish, however, has to be the batter, which Josh says took several years to develop, is gluten-free and is impossibly crunchy and crisp.

Josh says: ‘The part of the harbour where CARGO is now was the last part to be developed. Bristol’s harbour has always been beautiful, but there wasn’t a fish and chip shop here until I opened Salt & Malt. I love fish and chips and get so excited about it, and it’s great seeing people buy it and then sit looking out over the harbour as they open the box.’

CARGO 2, Bristol, BS1 4RN. saltmalt.com

Paco Tapas

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Josh is a pioneer of Bristol’s food scene, but he’s not alone – Peter Sanchez-Iglesias (who went to school with Josh) is at the helm of his own mini-empire, with several restaurants under his belt. The most famous is the Michelin-starred Casamia, which is definitely a special occasion kind of place, but Paco Tapas offers up incredible Spanish tapas with a Michelin star to boot. This is where you’ll find some of the finest cooking in the city.

3A, The General, Lower Guinea Street, Bristol, BS1 6SY. pacotapas.co.uk

Emmeline

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There always seems to be an incredible number of coffee shops (both chain and independent) in big cities, but there are always a few that rise to the top to become the best in the area. Emmeline in Stokes Croft is a prime example of this. Named after owner Shona Graham’s niece, it is a bright, airy space serving very good coffee, fresh juices, generously filled sandwiches and the odd house plant. With a focus on local produce, it’s a little oasis to escape to in the midst of a busy city.

A few months ago a car crashed into the front of Emmeline, which means it has to close until structural damage is repaired. The local community rallied around the business, setting up a page where people can donate to cover lost earnings.

Josh says: ‘Shona used to work for me and it was great when she set up Emmeline as her own thing. It’s everything you want from a good café, and it’s a fantastic addition to Stokes Croft.’

116 Cheltenham Road, Bristol, BS6 5RW. facebook.com/emmeline.bristol

The Kensington Arms

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When it comes to pubs, you can’t get much better than The Kensington Arms (or ‘The Kenny’ to locals). Josh bought the pub when it was listed for sale as he’d enjoyed drinking in there when he was younger, and naturally he improved the food offering tenfold. It now serves quality beer on cask and keg, and has a relaxed gastropub menu which caters to everyone from foodies to students.

Josh says: ‘As soon as I heard The Kenny was up for sale I was interested. We have some fun in the kitchen, getting guest chefs to hold dinners and try different things, but at the heart of it is just a great pub, whether you want a quick pint or a proper meal.’

35–37 Stanley Road, Bristol, BS6 6NP. thekensingtonarms.co.uk

Tobacco Factory Market (Sundays)

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Every Sunday between 10am and 2.30pm, around forty different traders descend on Bristol’s Tobacco Factory site to create a must-visit market that has a little bit of everything. With a focus on eco-friendly, fair trade and organic produce, it’s a shining example of the city’s dedication to supporting independent businesses and the local economy.

Josh says: ‘You’ve got producers, people making little gifts, bits of furniture, great coffee, fantastic sushi, bread and bakes from Farro Bakery… there’s a bit of everything there.’

Tobacco Factory, Bristol, BS3 1TF. tobaccofactory.com/sunday-market

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