Tag Archives: Bristol cafes

Arch House Deli, Clifton

Chipotle chilli mayonnaise for £3.00 and lavender rice pudding for £3.50 are just two of the reasons that make the Arch House Deli a special treat to visit. The varied, and mostly imported, products in this emporium mean that it is extremely colourful but also slightly out of reach in terms of cost.

Some events that are a little more accessible are the frequent tasting events which are hosted there such as the free Strawberry Hill Vineyard wine tasting two days ago and a free cheese tasting nine days ago with cheese connoisseur Emma Johnson.

Freshly prepared food is available from the cold counter and this includes a wide variety of cheese and pastries while there are freshly baked cakes on the large table in the centre of the shop. All look delicious and most importantly the selections can be quite unusual. However, trying one of each of the lovely offerings would be a bit too expensive so sometimes the easiest choice is the cafe.

A cup of the decaffeinated Lahloo Rosebud tea costs £1.65 and is served in the heavy, individual tea pot recommended by the company. The tea is delicate and contains actual rose buds.

There are tables just past the shop area, in front of the deli and around the side of the building in the alleyway. On a Tuesday morning the only thing to spoil the quiet of Clifton was the kitchen right next to the tables in the alleyway where two women kept up a constant stream of gossip and singing.

I probably wouldn’t spend hours there, but for a touch of magic and creativity, it’s a nice little place in which to browse and discover new things. The Gustosecco lavender rice pudding is something I hadn’t heard of before but would love to try. The packet contains all the dry ingredients necessary to infuse with milk and then bake in the oven. Apparently it goes well with poached peaches in syrup.

Arch House Deli, Arch House, Boyces Avenue, Clifton Village, Bristol, BS8 4AA, UK

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Stoneground Cafe, Bristol Central Library

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The Bristol Central Library can be found just past College Green and right next to the Bristol Cathedral in a location that is both beautiful and historical. One recent addition in this area provides a further reason to visit and that is the Stoneground Cafe. Located near the back of the library, just past the DVDs and travel guides, is a newly formed area of eight tables and a central stall selling food and drinks.

A filter coffee sells for £1.40, a freshly squeezed orange juice for £2 and speciality teas, including the peppermint (Twinings) that I bought, are £1.20. On Saturday there is a special offer of crisps and any sandwich for £2.99. The many snacks available on the counter are more of a natural range although see previous special which mentions the crisps. There are muesli bars at 80p and bananas at 60p. There are gluten free brownies among other cakes at 99p which look particularly tempting.

The Stoneground Cafe is a family run business with a passion for cooking great quality food using the finest local ingredients and working with local suppliers apparently.

Its location in the library is not as socially prohibitive or as quiet as I would have thought. I sat at a table with a view of the College Green and the goings on of the passers by. I was on my own but a group of people sat right near me and quietly discussed their work with no real inhibition. Now and then there was the guilty start at a file being closed too noisily or a tap being too loud but it quickly felt normal.

A magazine stand included editions of Focus, The Wisden Cricketer and Ideal Home for those looking to keep occupied. I already had my library books with me but a newspaper could have been handy. Unfortunately they’re kept upstairs.

There’s quite an academic feel to the cafe, more of a college meeting room than illustrious dining area admittedly, but it did feel welcoming.

My only reservation would be about the disposable cups provided. These don’t seem entirely in keeping with the natural and fair trade proclamations littered around the place.

Just before I left to make my way home I glanced out the window and saw the Naked Bike Ride making its way past the Council House. A lot can be said for the view and the location of this place. It may be worth a look, or two.

A detour and a cup of coffee

I set out from the city centre this morning in an attempt to find a coffee and somewhere suitable to read a newspaper. From Colston St, I ventured to the Galleries where I bought the FT Weekend. I thought I’d try the Bordeaux Quay and strolled across St. Nicholas Market where most of the stalls were closed over the holiday period (the Cheese stall doesn’t reopen until the 8th of January).

Down Corn St and past Start the Bus, I passed the fountains and became reluctant to do something familiar so I turned off towards Park St instead. The Folk House looked closed and Boston Tea Party looked busy. Through the Clifton Triangle I barely gave Costa Coffee a second glance and decided on the Clifton Lido. The atmosphere was so nice when I last ventured down there but when I got closer I couldn’t make myself go in.  The little area was all in shadow and so quiet. I circled down Oakfield Rd and then walked up Whiteladies Rd with some faith that I would stumble upon something nice. I was even willing to cross over on to Gloucester Rd if there was nothing immediately obvious.

Luckily I didn’t have to. I hadn’t visited Papadeli for a while and I had never had a coffee there before.

The downstairs space is a delicatessen where every nook and cranny is full of food ranging from dried pasta imported from Italy, to Greek Eleon olive oil, coffee beans (organic and not), Lahloo tea, chocolates, biscuits, olives, capers, artichokes and various other antipasti. There are many varieties and I won’t attempt to describe even half of them so I would recommend visiting for a browse if nothing else.

There is a cafe upstairs which I didn’t visit, there are three tables (wooden, sturdy, medium-sized that seat three people perhaps) downstairs and two (metallic) tables with chairs, outside on the narrow pavement.

I ordered a black americano coffee but the menu offered a whole range of options – soup (de jour);  sandwiches made on ciabatta (£5.95); salads from the counter (all made on the premises) £8.95; nibbles – including bread with olive oil for dipping (under £3.50); and a whole host of sweets including chocolate brownies (huge), cakes, warm croissants with jams and various other bits and edible pieces.

Two thirds of the way through Dan Washburn’s Planet Golf: Letter from Hainan I realised that my mellow, but aromatic and slightly bitter, coffee had long gone cold but I was happy to let it finish rather than refresh.

I went up to the counter to pay for my americano (£1.60) and couldn’t resist some of the food on offer. I ended up buying a selection which included marinated artichokes, red peppers stuffed with goats cheese and some olives with peppers. It all looked amazing.

I said no to the offer of another coffee and reminded myself to investigate the word ‘telegenic’ which I hadn’t come across before and whose origins I couldn’t quite fathom.  Washburn writes in the FT Weekend that ‘[i]t is all remarkably telegenic, and by design’ when referring to the Mission Hills Hainan in China, the multi-billion dollar construction project of what will be one of the largest collection of golf courses in the world.

The deli around me makes quite a contrast to any large scale development. The space is small and is more functional than aesthetically pleasing. The large collection of freshly-made, colourful and occasionally imported food items is pleasing and cosy and cluttered. All very tempting and while not necessarily designed to look good on television it was just right for reading a paper and drinking a coffee.