Pre-theatre dinner Ideal curtain-raiser on your night out
With its exposed metal ducting, red brick walls and utilitarian furniture, the post-industrial design of this ground floor café acts as a permanent reminder of its former life as a bustling and noisy Wills tobacco factory.
Now into its eleventh year, the Tobacco Factory Café has changed little in terms of the food offering.
The food has always been broadly Mediterranean and always affordable.
Even now, it is rare to see dishes costing more than £10, which is admirable in these days of increasing food costs.
Food is served in the café at lunchtime and in the evening from 5.30pm, which gives pre-theatre diners plenty of time to eat before performances start in the upstairs theatre.
Most of the dishes are chalked on the large boards above the open kitchen, although there are also tapas-style bar snacks such as manchego (Spanish sheep's milk cheese) for £2 and a small meat platter for £2.20.
There is also a special 'pre-theatre quick dish' for £6, with £1 off for those who produce a valid theatre ticket for that evening's performance.
When I visited last week, it was lentil and vegetable casserole (£6.50).
A selection of lighter options and salads include a mezze platter for £7.20 and goats' cheese salad with honey roasted vegetables for £6.80.
From the main menu, all dishes are priced between £8.60 and £9.80 and included spicy dahl, sag aloo and cucumber raita with naan bread (£8); pollock with sautéed chorizo, courgettes, parmentier potatoes (£9) and the lamb rump with smoked bacon, new potatoes, broad beans and roasted onion purée (£9.80) I ordered.
My lamb dish took a little long to arrive (almost 30 minutes), which was a shame because it would have benefited from slightly less time in the oven as it was a little grey for my liking, rather than the desired pink.
Still, it had a good flavour and the onion purée and smoked bacon lardons worked well with the tender broad beans.
I accompanied it with a pint of Bristol Beer Factory No.7 – literally brewed across the road – although I could have easily dipped into the concise wine list, which offers ten by the glass.
Puddings are limited to just a couple of old favourites – sticky toffee pudding or warm chocolate brownie with ice cream (both £3.80).