Arch House Deli, Bristol

posted on: Sunday, 30 June 2013

The incredible sandwiches from Arch House Deli... before the dog bit it

A charming tea garden in the Clifton area of Bristol

Graffiti in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol

Anti-Tesco graffiti in Stokes Croft

I got hit by a car, a dog ate my sandwich and it was bitterly cold and I still highly, highly recommend visiting Bristol. Not least because I had a brilliant guide showing me the best areas of England's West Country: home to Wallace and Gromit, Banksy and the TV show Skins.

Incidentally, 'West Country' has become a term synonymous with superior farming and produce in UK supermarkets and for a small university town there are a great number of quality food destinations.

There is the quaint part called Clifton - which is the Bristol that I had imagined - featuring students wearing Crew and Jack Wills polo shirts and sweaters and charming houses with beautiful gardens alongside the Avon River.

In Clifton my favourite spot is the Arch House Deli with the most amazing fresh sandwiches. I had mine with ham, fresh slaw, seeded mustard and emmenthal cheese on granary bread. The sandwich was so good that a black cocker spaniel jumped onto my lap and took a bite!

Sitting alongside the quaint Bristol is a strong hippie vibe in Bristol's Stokes Croft area. It has graffiti, vegan shops, organic food, yoga and a strong local community. The community recently successfully fought to stop a Tesco's opening in the area because of their commitment to local food and businesses. There are a number of great coffee and brunch places to try along Gloucester Road.

One of the main reasons I ventured out to Bristol was because River Cottage has just opened one of their canteens there and as a huge fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, this was a must do for me.

At dinner we tried the penne pasta with a chorizo ragu and the roast pollard with gremolata. The fish tasted wild and fresh, but the penne was quite standard, especially in comparison to my experience in Bologna last week.

The kitchen were producing dinner for over 100 people which is an incredible task. However, I feel like they have overextended themselves and the River Cottage ethos does not translate to the plate. Disappointingly, it felt a little like a standard meal in a chain restaurant. On a plus though, the staff told us that they had just received a huge shipment of strawberries from a local farm and were making strawberry cocktails and these were unbelievably good.

Bristol is one of those places where people stop and chat to you, you're greeted in every store and cars stop for you to cross the road. Except for the guy who swerved around the corner and hit me on the elbow and didn't stop. But everyone on the street rushed to see if I was okay, making it all incredibly charming.

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