The business lunch A refreshing change from the usual fare
Griff Holland and Ed Brown opened Friska in 2009 with the simple premise of offering a fresh and healthy lunchtime alternative for people working in Bristol's central business district.
Since then, these ambitious former Bath University economics graduates have expanded the business with a recently opened second site at the Science Park at Emersons Green and there are rumours that they will be opening other sites in Bristol in the very near future.
Since it opened in 2009, the original Victoria Street branch of Friska may have gained an unwelcome bit of competition in the shape of a new Tesco next door, but the owners have stuck to their guns and business is brisk.
Before the lunch menu kicks in at 11.30am, there is an extensive range of breakfast options to takeaway or enjoy in the bustling café with its exposed pipes, stainless steel factory lamps and chunky wooden tables. The menu, which changes with the seasons, includes healthy options such as Greek yoghurt with fruit (£1.95) and porridge (£1.50) or slightly more decadent starts to the day such as Spanish eggs on toast (£3.50) or crispy bacon (£3).
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At lunch, the original 'no sandwiches' policy may have been slightly compromised due to public demand. Those they do offer are far more interesting than anything you are likely to find in a supermarket fridge – made using Hobbs House bread, they include hot smoked salmon (£3.50) and beetroot and goats' cheese (£3.25).
Other options at lunch include a selection of cold salads served in two sizes, including hoisin smoked duck noodles (£2.95) or Italian roasted vegetables (£2.50), daily-changing soups and hot main dishes such as Vietnamese-style Hanoi pho beef noodles (£4.85).
My surprisingly fiery Louisiana chicken and chorizo toasted flatbread wrap (£4.50) was served with a crunchy salad of shredded cabbage, radishes, grated carrot and was far superior to anything I've eaten in Bristol restaurants specialising in wraps or Mexican-style burritos.
Friska is an inspired concept and one that looks likely to take off in an even bigger way over the next few years. It would come as no surprise at all to see branches popping up in business districts all over the region and beyond.