Moving in and moving on – all change in 2010
The year started with a visit to Bristol's very first "pop-up" restaurant. Cloak and Dinner took place in a city centre squat and was only advertised through social media sites but it was fully booked for the four evenings it opened.
There was no menu and diners were asked to pay what they thought the meal was worth. Unconventional, yes, but the food was great, the atmosphere was electric and Cloak and Dinner provided one of the dining highlights of 2010.
In January, I met Mark Newman, who had given up his well-paid career in computer software development to become an artisan baker in Ashton. Mark's Bread has gone from strength to strength this year and people travel from across Bristol to buy Newman's exceptional bread and pastries. He even had a visit from Jamie Oliver, who filmed him for his upcoming TV series.
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In February, Clifton Village pub The Grapes was taken over by Bill Butt, the former pop video and wildlife film director-turned chef.
A pub that has always attracted the city's musicians and artists, The Grapes was given a suitably cool makeover with walls covered with local art by the likes of 3D of Massive Attack and Inkie. As well as an impeccable musical policy, Butt's cooking has made this a must-visit pub, whether it's for a Mexican feast or a classic Sunday roast.
Hermanos on Queens Road has long been a favourite haunt for the city's more discerning drinkers, but it became a destination for foodies when mother and daughter team Liz and Sorrel Ferguson took over the kitchen. The short, seasonal menu changed every week and the food was excellent.
Sadly, the Fergusons left Hermanos recently due to family reasons and they have yet to find a replacement. This could be a wonderful opportunity for a talented young chef to make their mark, so hopefully somebody will take it over in the New Year.
There is no stopping Mike Cranney and Joby Andrews, who added a third pub to their collection when they opened The Lazy Dog in Ashley Down Road.
Formerly The Ashley Arms, the Victorian pub was given a stylish new look by the pair and it has become as popular as their other two pubs, The Windmill and The Pipe and Slippers, with good food and excellent local beers and ciders. Let's hope they snap up even more locals next year.
When it comes to finding the perfect location for a cafe, estate agent Tobie Holbrook certainly seems to be able to spot an opportunity when he sees it.
A couple of years ago, he turned a disused shop next to his Redfield office into Grounded, a smart cafe bar. In March, he did a similar thing in Bedminster when he transformed a derelict shop opposite Asda into a second Grounded. It was just what East Street needed and the place has been busy since it opened its doors, serving coffees, lunches and pizzas, including its own home-delivery service.
Although it hasn't been unusual to see restaurants close down completely over the past year, it's still quite rare to see an established eatery move lock, stock and barrel.
In April, award-winning Indian restaurant Myristica moved from King Street to Welsh Back, a move that has proved very successful, as it is busier than ever. It's still one of the best Indians in the city.
There have, sadly, been a few casualties in 2010 and the closure of Cattlemans steak house in Clifton certainly marked the end of an era. A restaurant that had been on The Triangle since the 1980s, it may have been dated, but it still drew people from all over Bristol for its retro prawn cocktail, enormous steaks and bottles of Bull's Blood. Although it wasn't to everybody's taste, it will be missed.
One of the interesting things to come out of the recession was the number of new local restaurants popping up and Prego in Henleaze was one of many new openings.
Co-owner Julian Faiello gave up his day job as a floorlayer to run this Italian-inspired restaurant and it has quickly become a hit with the locals.
In the same month, the old Budokan site at Clifton Down shopping centre reopened as the Three Coqs Brasserie. It was the first joint venture between experienced chefs David Daly, Jonathon Mackeson and Chris Wicks and its modern, ingredient-driven European food was matched by an interesting wine list majoring on organic and bio-dynamic wines – the first Bristol restaurant to do so.
Just along Whiteladies Road, changes were afoot at The Picture House, which opened a second site across the road. Picture House East has quickly picked up a new following for its consistently good food as original Picture House was rebranded as a bar and grill restaurant.
After years of being dominated by cheap and cheerful chain bars, Bristol's waterfront is finally changing for the better.
The Harbourside opened its doors on the site formerly known as The River. An all-day bar/cafe/restaurant run by architect George Ferguson and the same team behind Canteen in Stokes Croft, it has already helped to attract a more discerning crowd to the area. We need more places like it.
The ghost of Keith Floyd returned to his beloved Bristol in June when Clifton Kitchen opened exactly where the TV chef had his bistro in the Eighties.
With kitchen-themed wall murals inspired by Sixties pop-artist Patrick Caulfield, there was a distinctly retro feel to the place and its relaxed feel would have certainly gained approval from Floyd himself.
With more and more pubs closing for good, it was good to see a few being given a new lease of life. The Mayor's Arms in Redcliffe was turned into the excellent Raj Mahal City Indian restaurant, serving well above average food at prices that didn't break the bank.
As more and more people looked beyond the insipid and bland coffee served in High Street coffee shops, Clifton Village saw the launch of 194° Fahrenheit.
The idea of Owain George, owner of The Albion gastropub around the corner, this small espresso bar was the first Bristol coffee shop to offer single-origin coffees produced using the pour-over drip-filter technique. It can only be a matter of time before the corporate coffee chains catch up with the independents.
Meanwhile, there were plenty of flames at Grillstock, a two-day barbecue festival in Bristol's Harbourside. Comprising more than 130 stalls offering cooking equipment, food and drink, the centrepiece of Grillstock was a US-style competition with up to 16 teams competing for the King of the Grill trophy. The winner was Clifton restaurant The Cowshed Bar, a place famed for its steaks.
August saw the launch of Souk Kitchen in Southville, run by Ella and Darren Lovell. Concentrating on Middle Eastern market food, Souk Kitchen managed to capture the flavours and fragrances of Marrakesh, Cairo and Damascus. It turned out to be one of the best new restaurants to open in the city this year.
At the end of August, celebrated chef Marco Pierre White opened his first restaurant in the South West. The former three Michelin-star chef and Hell's Kitchen star launched the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Bar & Grill at the Double Tree by Hilton hotel at Cadbury House, offering a classic menu that included prawn cocktail with Marie Rose sauce; eggs Benedict with sauce hollandaise; fried haddock and chips with mushy peas; and a selection of steaks.
Just a few weeks after opening their latest restaurant in Portishead, two members of the family behind successful chain Bottelino's opened a new place in Bristol. Fratelli's is the first solo venture for brothers Dante and Pino Botta, who proved they were a chip off the old block with this friendly and affordable pizza and pasta restaurant in the heart of Broadmead.
One of the culinary highlights of 2010 was the opening of The Victoria Park. Former Harvey Nichols chef Steve Gale's intelligent menu takes in international influences inspired by his travels and the pub itself offers a fine selection of real ales. It is the perfect local and its Sunday lunches are already the stuff of legend.
September also saw the launch of The Bank of Stokes Croft bar, the latest venture by Dave Smeaton and James Savage, the men behind The Spotted Cow in Bedminster and The Big Chill Bar. The Bank of Stokes Croft has already become a hit with the Stokes Croft crowd thanks to its well-stocked bar, top-notch DJs and locally sourced, affordable food.
Phil Haughton of The Better Food Company may have been involved in Bristol's organic food scene for three decades but he is still prepared to take risks, as he proved when he opened a new organic supermarket in Clifton in October. Housed in the former Bottoms Up on Whiteladies Road, the shop offers a wide range of organic products and the locals have embraced it.
October saw the launch of The Battleaxes at Wraxall, the first Bristol pub by The Flatcappers, the company co-owned by the Loungers group. An imposing grey stone Victorian building on the edge of the Tyntesfield estate, the pub has been restored to its former glory after years of decline and its extensive menu has already proved popular.
When so many pubs are closing, it's always nice to see one actually being improved.
November was a month of new openings. Rosemarino, a new Italian restaurant, opened to much acclaim on the site of the old York Café in Clifton.
The Kondi Brasserie proved to be just what the people of Henleaze had been waiting for and The Bristol Ethicurean at Barley Wood Walled Garden in Wrington became Bristol's equivalent of River Cottage, specialising in seasonal dishes created from produce grown outside the kitchen door.
November also saw Westbury-on- Trym restaurant Casamia win the final of Ramsay's Best Restaurant on Channel Four. A restaurant that already has a Michelin star, this latest endorsement has helped to put them and Bristol on the culinary map.
As Christmas approaches, all thoughts turn to drink and Bristol gained a new wine merchant, a cider shop and a cracking new bar.
On Gloucester Road, the old Bottoms Up was transformed into Grape and Grind, a smart new independent wine shop run by Darren Willis and his wife Polly.
Meanwhile, a small unit on Christmas Steps was turned into The Bristol Cider Shop by friends Nick Davis and Peter Snowman.
At Clifton Down, the former Outback Bar received a tasteful makeover and became Whitelock & Grace, an uber-cool new bar serving some of the best cocktails in Bristol.
There certainly wasn't a lack of places to raise a glass and say "cheers" or Happy New Year.