10 pretty spots to enjoy al fresco dining in Bristol
PUBLISHED: 11:37 21 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:50 24 July 2017
Nothing says summer more succinctly than eating outdoors – think lunch in a poolside bar, afternoon tea in an English garden, dinner on the roof, drinks on the deck, or a street food picnic on the go
This is the stuff of sultry evenings in warm climates, but you can do all these things on your doorstep. In holiday mode, we pick 10 of the best places in Bristol to wine and dine al fresco.
At the foot of the city centre’s Colston Tower, this cool, colourful cafécum-bar has a large rooftop terrace with views across the old city towards the harbour and a glimpse of the countryside. The all-day menu is inspired by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines and majors on sharing plates cooked in a wood-fired oven or a charcoal Robata grill. A regular Fizz Friday offers two-for-one Proseccos.
In the old viewing gallery of what used to be the Clifton Pool, this sunny, glass-fronted restaurant overlooks the restored Victorian lido with its blue, steamy waters open to the sky. Watch the swimmers go by as you tuck into modern Mediterranean dishes prepared by head chef Freddy Bird. There is a poolside bar with indoor and outdoor seating, breakfast, cocktails or tapas, and the option of ‘swim and eat’ packages if you fancy a dip before dinner.
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Step aboard the Matthew, a faithful reconstruction of the boat used by John Cabot in 1497, and take in the views as she cruises around Bristol’s historic Floating Harbour before mooring up for a fish supper on deck. The replica ship – which was built in 1997 to mark 500 years since Cabot’s first trans-Atlantic voyage – celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Regular fish and chip trips take place throughout the summer and booking is essential.
Docked in pretty Hotwells, with harbour views that reach down to Cumberland Basin and across to Brunel’s SS Great Britain, the Grain Barge is a good example of Bristol’s beer-on-a-boat experience. The local ale comes from the Bristol Beer Factory just across the river and the food is hearty, gastro-pub style using organic and fair trade ingredients. Watch ferries, kayakers and stand up paddle-boarders glide past as you sup a pint on the deck.
One of Bristol’s most innovative food hubs, Cargo is a double-decker row of re-purposed shipping containers, each housing an indie outlet with specialities ranging from cider to chicken to Chinese noodles – and most have terraces or outdoor tables. Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton’s Chicken Shed venture has a large terrace overlooking the harbour. Or sit outside his container-town branch of Salt and Malt which serves ethical, gluten-free fish and chips from one of 17 units in the new Cargo 2.
A world of flavours packed into the 19th century Glass Arcade behind the Old City’s Corn Exchange, St Nicks is one of the UK’s oldest and most celebrated markets. Try the souk-like Moorish Café, the Ahh Toots Cakery, Grillstock grills or Pieminister’s good-fashioned pie and mash, or take a grand tour of Chinese, Lebanese, Portuguese and Caribbean cuisine served up by a tight-knit community of independent traders. To add to the mix, visit Bristol Farmer’s Market on Corn Street on Wednesdays or street-food market on Wine Street on Fridays.
The Victorian hotel’s elegant Bridge Café is a great stop for afternoon tea, the refurbished White Lion bar is a good for a classic pizza, but the show stopper here is the terrace. Is there a better view in the city? Overlooking Clifton Suspension Bridge and across the Avon Gorge to Leigh Woods, this is the place to watch the sun go down over Bristol with a pint of beer or a glass of fizz.
On the rural edge of north Bristol, this Victorian country house hotel has 18 acres of woodland and dreamy gardens – tended by a Royal gardener (he used to work for the Prince of Wales at Highgrove). Order a sumptuous afternoon tea, served by the hotel’s Hattusa restaurant, on an al fresco table on the lawned terrace. Enjoy scones with clotted cream and raspberry and Earl Grey jam with blossoms, fountains, marble statues and distant views of the Severn Estuary towards South Wales. Bristol city centre is just 15 minutes away.
A ‘secret’ walled garden, is a defining feature of No.4 Clifton Village - an award-winning restaurant and bar set within a terrace of Grade II-listed Georgian townhouses in the heart of Clifton. Planted with fragrant honeysuckle and fuschia, the hotel’s sunny English garden, makes it an idyllic venue for summer dining, private parties or al fresco drinks from the intimate village bar.
Close to Cabot Circus, Bristol Shopping Quarter and Castle Park, this is one of the city’s only roof-terrace cocktail bars – and it’s so very Bristol. The décor is street-art – local urban artist Cheo created the graffiti walls – the food is based on street food and the views are pure city¬scape. Try a boozy ice lolly or a Brizzle Fizzle from a menu of fancy cocktails - two-for-one offered every day from 4-7pm.