New lunchtime treat Eclectic emporium with great coffee
Anybody who was starting to think Bristol's appetite for all things vintage was, quite literally, old hat, had better think again.
There seems to be a new vintage clothes shop opening every other week across the city at the moment and more are on the way. Following close on the heels of The Birdcage in nearby Clare Street, the latest is Wild at Heart, which opened earlier this month in a former hairdressing salon that was once also an internet café.
New owners Rob Crook and Mandy Hawkins have taken the place back to its bare 1940s- style essentials and turned it into a vintage emporium that incorporates various mini- businesses under one roof.
At the back there's a hair salon and downstairs is a beauty parlour. At the front, there's a small vintage clothes stall, a florist and a delightful little café.
Even more unique is the shoeshine service being run by a young chap called Harry, who dresses in a natty vintage tweed suit and bowler hat. His brogue-polishing service has already become popular with the solicitors and judges dashing off to Bristol Crown Court around the corner.
The entire place is decked out in weird and wonderful retro curiosities, from a stag's head on the wall to old wedding dresses and leather luggage chests doubling up as coffee tables.
In the café, tea and coffee is served in vintage cups and saucers and there is a selection of antique cake stands for those who want to stay longer, perhaps for a leisurely afternoon tea.
In the first weeks of opening, the offering at the café has been limited but there are plans to introduce sandwiches using bread from Mark's Bread and even more cakes.
The cakes and biscuits are made by Jane Frere of Bath farmers' market stalwarts Cakes on the Corner and her son, Kit, is running the café side of Wild at Heart.
The coffee is supplied by Bristol's expert roasters Extract and you can choose between machine-brewed espressos or drip-filter. As I wanted a flat white (£2.50), I was recommended the Hope Project Espresso from Tanzania because of its "dark chocolate, black forest gateaux" characteristics. It was certainly a delicious, smooth caffeine fix.
I accompanied it with a heart-shaped shortbread biscuit (50p) which was expertly baked and boasted the correct sugary snap and buttery crunch – but then baker Jane Frere was once name-checked by food writer Nigel Slater so I would expect nothing less than perfection.