Bristol vs the world

A travel (and sometimes fashion) blog about exploring Bristol and the rest of the world, one post at a time.

Category: Food Friday

Food Friday: Ode to the Chippy

Fish and Chips

Dear Local Chippy,

I read an article today, discussing how chip shops are undergoing a revolution. I’m fine with that, I really am. I’m all up for making sure fish is sustainably caught and freshly cooked (though I think you’re already doing that, to be honest). Even if I’m more of a battered sausage girl myself.

But don’t go going too cool on us, will you? Not like all those burger joints where you have to queue for hours to get into. Don’t forget that the burger is American: it’s overconfident, it knows it can be big and bold and flashy. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, not if you can pull it off. But you, fish & chips, are the British national dish. You can’t quite get away with it. You’re just too humble, almost to the point of self-deprecation, always in disbelief that you are quite so loved.

You are, should always be, those small takeaways with white-tiled walls. Where we queue for our dinner and wait for it to be doled out in paper growing increasingly transparent from grease, careful to not look the other people waiting in the eye. You are the shop I leave with my mouth watering and my hair smelling of vinegar.

I like how you serve my mushy peas in a Styrofoam cup and I like it when you give me piles of the crispy, orange-brown chip ends you hardly ever get in a pub or restaurant (or not enough, anyway). I like how your batter is as thick as the meat it covers and how it crunches when I bite it. I like how you drown my chips in oil and vinegar and grease that drips down my fingers as I eat.

I like that your food works as well in front of the telly on a cold Friday night as it does on a British beach in summer. Even if the latter does involve fending off seagulls with a wooden fork.

I like how you don’t need sexy-sounding names, like those cool burger places. Your names are fun instead, like ‘Paul’s Plaice’ and ‘Frying Nemo’ and ‘Codfather’.

I know you’re not all as good as one another. I know some chip shops don’t quite have the batter recipe right, or don’t deep-fry the chips quite long enough (or maybe it’s too long?) so they’re too soggy, too chewy, not-quite-the-right flavour. I know it’s not easy doing what you do well.
Chippy, I know we’re both too British to be comfortable with me expressing too many emotions about why I like you. So I’ll just say that you’re doing well just as you are. Don’t go changing too much.

See you soon,

Amy

Visiting Bristol this summer and fancy trying the British national dish? My personal favourites are Farrow’s Fish & Chips in Totterdown and Crispies. But others I’ve seen recommended are Fishminister in Southville, Bishopston Fish Bar in Horfield, Argus Fish Bar in Bedminster. Bristolians – where are your favourites?

Image Credit
Fish & Chips: Alamy/Simon Belcher via The Guardian

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Food Friday: Beese’s Bar & Tea Gardens, Bristol

Beese's Bristol by Andrew Bennett

On its website Beese’s describes itself as one of Bristol’s best-kept secrets. Considering how buzzing it was on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I’d argue that’s not quite true, but it’s still not the sort of place you’re likely to stumble upon. Nestled on the riverbank on the opposite side to the Bath and Keynsham footpaths, Beese’s has to be sought out – by foot, bike, car or, more unusually, river ferry.

(The river ferry harks back to Beese’s roots. It was founded by a Mrs Beese in 1846 to provide refreshments to passengers on the Conham River Ferry, which her husband captained.)

Beese's Bristol

As well as putting in the effort to find Beese’s, you also have to be patient to experience this lovely pub. Although I say you’re unlikely to stumble upon this lovely pub/bar/restaurant, that’s actually exactly how we discovered it. An impromptu Autumn walk in neighbouring Eastwood Farm Nature Reserve spat us out into the Beese’s car park. But Beese’s is only open from Easter weekend until the end of September, we’d been waiting six months before finally, finally a weekend where it was open coincided with a weekend where it was sunny and a weekend where we had decided to take a break from DIY.

We had decided to have a light lunch so plumped for the baguettes – egg mayonaise and brie and cranberry. Simple food, done very well.

If you wanted something more substantial, the Sunday roasts smelt and looked amazing and the burgers were making our mouths water a little too. We’ll definitely be back for a larger meal next time. Possibly in an evening, so we can sit outside as it goes dark, beneath the lights strung between the trees.

Alternatively if you just want a snack (Tarr’s ice cream, afternoon tea with scones) or a drink (alcoholic or non), they cater for that too.

Eastwood Farm Nature Reserve

It’s also in the perfect location for a post-food walk. Very few people seem to take advantage of Eastwood Farm Nature Reserve, which is right next door. To be fair, that suited us fine (so don’t tell too many people about it!). We sat and watched ducklings paddle round one of the ponds (or ‘lagoons’) and meandered through the woodland and by the river. The perfect end to our lunch date.

Whether you’re planning to eat out with a partner, all the family (it’s very kid-friendly) or catch up with friends, Beese’s is the perfect place to while away a Sunny afternoon or evening in Bristol. Simple, beautiful and just plain lovely.

The Details
Beese’s Bar & Tea Gardens
Wyndham Crescent, Bristol, BS4 4SX

Booking is available and probably recommended for larger parties. However there are a few T&Cs.

Getting There
Public Transport: Get the No 1 bus (which starts at Cribb’s Causeway and goes to the city centre via Park St) to the Good Intent Pub, Brislington

A number of Bristol ferry companies run boat trips from the city centre.

Beese’s has a car park (where you can also leave your bike). If you’re on the other side of the river, you can park in Conham Road car park and contact Beese’s, who will ferry you across!

For more details, see Beese’s informative website

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Picture credits
Header of Beese’s: Andrew Bennett via Flickr
Beese’s beer garden: Good Bristol
Eastwood Farm Nature Reserve landscape: Chopsy Baby
All others my own, please credit if using

Food Friday: Lunch and dinner in Copenhagen

Last week I highlighted some lovely spots for a bit of breakfast in Copenhagen. But woman cannot live by pastries alone (much as I’d love to)! So here are some of the places we enjoyed lunch and dinner.

DOP hotdog Copenhagen

Hot dog stands
Everyone warns you that Copenhagen is expensive, but nothing quite prepares you for just how expensive. Especially when it comes to food and drink. That doesn’t mean there aren’t cheaper options, and a good way to save a few pennies is by grabbing lunch from one of the many hot dog stands around the city. We tried two. The one sat at the top of Nyhavn won on location. We ate in the sun, lounging on some nearby steps overlooking the beautiful, much-photographed harbour. However while those hot dogs were tasty, there’s a reason that readers of Politiken, a Danish broadsheet, voted DOP the best restaurant in Copenhagen (hot dogs pictured above). This might sound a bit odd, but the real stand-out about their offering was the bun – super soft and not chewy at all. So, so good.

Stands cost from around 25DKK, though DOP’s were a bit more expensive (around 36DKK).

Kodbyens Fiskebar dessert
Kodbyens fiskebar mussels

Kodbyens Fiskebar
From the cheapest places we visited on our trip to the most expensive. But oh was it worth it. A fish and seafood restaurant, Kodbyens Fiskebar is located in ‘cool’ Kodbyen. Also known a the ‘meatpacking district’, Kodbyen is next to Vesterbro and, conveniently, less than a five minute walk from our apartment.

As you might expect from its name, this area was – and still is – home to butchers; many now stroll to work as partygoers stagger home from the surrounding bars and clubs. Strict planning laws means that the restaurants and bars who have moved in have to preserve the white-tiled outlets as they were when they were home to butchers. As a result, none of the places in the area look particularly fancy. So despite Kodbyens Fiskebaren seemingly being one of the most-talked restaurants in Copenhagen at the moment, we loved that it was also completed relaxed and welcoming and more suited to jeans than a dress.

More importantly, the staff were friendly and helpful and the food and drink was incredible. Go, go, go and eat as much as you can possibly manage!

‘Raw bar’ plates (almost like ‘samplers’, of which you need more than one dish): DK115-145 for three pieces.
Medium courses (large starters): 105-165DKK
Bigger courses (mains): 165-255DKK
Desserts: 95DKK

Reservations highly recommended (book online)

bangaw

Ban Gaw
Admittedly Thai probably isn’t the natural choice for dinner in Denmark, but Ben Gaw on Sonder Boulevard was conveniently situated and looked full every time we walked past – both big ticks. It’s not the best Thai I’ve ever eaten (that title still goes to Oli’s Thai), and I probably wouldn’t make a special trip to eat here if I wasn’t staying nearby. But the food was flavoursome and and portions were generous. And, by Copenhagen standards, it was reasonably priced too.

Starters: 50-69DKK
Mains: 124-184DKK, but most around 150DKK

Cocks and Cows Copenhagen

Cocks and Cows
You have to ignore the ridiculous name for this one, but it’s – just about – worth it. This burger restaurant has two outlets in Copenhagen, one on Sankt Peders Straese, near the university and Latin Quarter and another on Gammel Strand, just on the other side of the river from Slotsholmen. This is the one we found ourselves in.

There’s 10 burgers to choose from (mostly cow, rather than cock based, and also one veggie option). I can highly recommend the Juicy Lucy, a hunk of meat with cheese oozing out of the middle. You can also pick one of three types of bun: sesame, whole grain or Sweet American (a brioche-style sweet bread). John and I both plumped for the latter. I never normally finish burger buns, preferring to concentrate on meat and chips instead, but I polished off most of this one!

There’s also a number of sides on offer – some fairly typical (fries, curly fries, onion rings) and others less so (BBQ wings and ribs). While the latter were tempting, instead we both chose the chilli fries, which turned out to be a good decision.

There’s also a good choice of drinks. As this was looking to be our only meal of the day, we went all out and filled ourselves up on milkshakes. They were very good, but next time I think I’d be tempted to splash out on a cocktail.

Good quality burgers in central locations, Cocks and Cows is definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for something simple, good-quality and filling when in Copenhagen.

Picture credits
DOP hot dog: DOP’s Facebook page
Kodbyens Fiskebar exterior: Courtesy of Tripadvisor
Kodbyens Fiskebar food: My own, please credit if using
Ban Gaw: Thai Com
Cocks & Cows: Politiken

Food Friday: Breakfasting in Copenhagen

When I’m not gobbling granola (/spilling it on my work clothes) in a rush to get out of the house, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. Especially on holiday: waking up slowly with a tea and well-cooked food has to be one of life’s simplest, greatest pleasures.

Although we ate a couple of ‘boring’ breakfasts in our apartment (well, if you can call Coco Pops from a flipping variety pack boring), we made room for a few Danish pastries too. Here’s a round-up of the spots we found.

Granola Interior via Red Matter
Breakfast at Granola, Copenhagen

Granola
Værnedamsvej 5
1819 Frederiksberg C
If someone said ‘imagine a 50’s American-style soda fountain without plastic, and designed by a Dane’, I’d be picturing something a little like the gorgeous Granola. It’s not only pretty, though; Granola wasn’t just my favourite breakfast in Copenhagen – it jostles for a place in my list of best ones of all time. And considering I take the first meal of the day very seriously, that’s no mean feat. Our ‘sweet’ breakfast platter consisted of yoghurt with compote and granola, fresh fruit, a pancake-y/french bread concoction, toast and – best of all – a home-made, Nutella-esque chocolate spread with actual nuts on top. (I later found out you can buy this to take home. Gutted I did not know this earlier.). My fruit smoothie was also excellent. Smaller breakfasts are available, as is a savoury larger breakfast. Or if you’re feeling really hungry you can get a sweet-savoury combination. Also open for lunch and dinner, if you fancy returning for one of their ‘hard’ shakes.

Breakfast from Bagerdygtigt, Istedgade, Copenhagen
Bagerdygtigt, Istedgade, Copenhagen

Bagerdygtigt, Istedgade, Copenhagen

Bagerdygtigt
Istedgade 120
1650 KØBENHAVN V
Did you know Danes don’t call Danish Pastries Danish Pastries? They call them ‘wienerbrød’ (Vienna bread).

Whatever you want to call them, the Danes do make them well and this friendly bakery, 5-10 minutes from ‘our’ apartment, was no exception. The perfect combination of being really tasty without being too sweet or sickly. We chose to take ours back at the flat, but there was also plenty of space to eat in.

 

Breakfast at Andersen Bakery, Copenhagen

Andersen Bakery
Three premises, by Tivoli Gardens (Bernstorffsgade 5), and in Frederiksberg (Gl. Kongevej 148) and Osterbro (Østerbrogade 103)
Continuing the unexpected pastry facts, the original incarnation of this well-known Danish bakery was actually in Hiroshima, Japan, way back in 1962; the founder, Shunsuke Takaki, was inspired by a trip to Denmark a few years before.

But while that’s interesting, what you really need to know is that there’s a reason pretty much every website, blog and guidebook recommends this bakery. The ever-so-flattering-and-cool photo just about sums it up. And I was possibly even more happy once I’d tucked in to the pastries. Not a bad way to start a birthday.

Photo Credits
Granola Interior: Red Matter via Pinterest
Bagerdygtigt interiors Bagerdygtigt’s Facebook page
Granola food, Bagerdygtigt food, Andersen Bakery breakfast: My own, please credit if using.

Next Food Friday: Lunches and Dinners

Food Friday: Oli’s Thai, Oxford

I grew up in Oxford. For the first 18 years of my life, the city never seemed to change. Admittedly there were a few restaurants, shops and clubs that you could guarantee would have swapped hands each time you came home from a term at university, but other than that you always knew where you stood with Oxford (usually at Carfax Tower, waiting for a friend running late because of traffic and/or an overdue bus).

Obviously some things always – will always – stay the same. Which isn’t a bad thing; I’m always surprised by how comforting I find the site of the old colleges or passing Christ Church meadows.

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The food and drink scene, however, is another story entirely. Every time I come back there seems to be about three new places to try. This time was the turn of Oli’s Thai on Magdalen Road, which had been receiving rave reviews.

Oli’s Thai opened last summer and is a real family affair. Not only is it run by husband-and-wife team Ru and Ladd, who met working a local Thai restaurant (Chiang Mai), but the eponymous Oli is their four-year-old son. I don’t know whether it’s because I knew that before going, but, despite the simple (but nice!) decor, the restaurant also seems to have a ‘homely’ feel that makes it really feel like a family-run business – partly because of the friendly staff, and partly because it’s so small. I think I counted five tables, not including the seats at the bar in the window. Despite this, they hadn’t crammed the tables in – which you might expect considering they were turning people away later in the night – so you never feel like you’re on top of your surrounding diners.

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That said, the first thing we actually noticed was the amazing smell. So mouths already watering and stomachs rumbling, we decided to share some prawn crackers to start. These came with perhaps the best peanut satay dip I’ve ever tasted. My friend, K, also had some sweetcorn fritters and chilli sauce. I was forced to try one (all in the name of research and enabling K to eat her main course, obviously). They too were brilliant – really fresh and just the right amount of crumbly. And this is coming from someone who’s not a huge sweetcorn fan.

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For mains, I went for the duck penang curry (at £10, the most expensive thing on the menu), a leg of duck served on the bone, covered in a tomato-y-coconutty curry sauce and served with green beans. It was amazing. The meat was tender but its skin crisp and the sauce was equally as perfect. K went for the aubergine curry (£7.50), which she said was really, really good. Both dishes came with plenty of sticky, white rice; it was only afterwards I realised how refreshing it was that this was part of the menu price.

Oli's Thai-Oxford-FoodieOnTour (5)

Despite the restaurant being full (we booked, which I’d definitely recommend) and their aforementioned having to turn people away, we weren’t rushed at all throughout our meal. And that’s even without us being particularly big spenders – the shared prawn crackers, starter, 2 mains and 2 alcoholic drinks (a beer and a cider) came to just £18 each, including tip.

Overall it was a great evening – great food in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Although there may be plenty of new restaurants to try in Oxford, I can see me forgoing them to come back here many, many times.

The details
Oli’s Thai
38 Magdalen Road, Oxford, OX4 1RB
http://olisthai.com/
Booking: Recommended. Only taken by phone, 01865 790223

Photos
1st photo courtesy of TripAdvisor
Exterior photo of Ru and Ladd and second interior photo from Foodie on Tour
Photos of prawn crackers and curries my only, please credit if re-using