StrEAT ventures west: Bristol’s street food scene
At the beginning of the year I found myself staying for an extended period in Bristol and thought I’d take the opportunity to see what the street food scene outside London had to offer. Yes, Londoners, it exists!
Longer ago than I care to confess I was a student at Bristol University, so this was not my first quest for food in the city. In my student days, however, the highlights of my culinary adventures were Browns (when my parents came to visit), The Joy Raj in Clifton Village (free Bombay mix = always turn up ten minutes early to collect) and the occasional treat from Jason’s Doner Van (best food pun in the West Country). I’d like to think my tastes have become more discerning since then, so it was with street food in mind that I ventured forth into the once familiar city.
I had been advised by friends living locally that St Nicholas’s market, near Corn Street in the city centre, was worth checking out, so my rumbling belly and I took a chilly stroll there one lunchtime. It did not disappoint. I went back there a few times over the course of a couple of weeks and here are some of the main stalls. For those I didn’t sample I’ve just summarised their main offerings. Definitely worth checking this place out if you’re in Bristol!
I visited this place a number of times to sample their amazing hickory-smoked pulled pork, served on a bap with homemade coleslaw. I was also offered an optional topping of brisket chilli on one occasion, and while I couldn’t quite cope with the double meat option, those with a serious appetite might want to consider it as it looked delicious. They also sell babyback ribs and brisket, though I think what’s on offer depends on the day you visit.
No street food market is complete without a falafel stall, and St Nick’s doesn’t disappoint as it has two (the other is at my count anyway – there may be more!) I tried Eat-a-pitta first as it had a mega queue, which is normally a good sign. They let you choose to have your falafel in a pitta, as a salad or on its own, and I went for the pitta option (a meal’s not a meal unless it contains carbs as far as I’m concerned). All options come with houmous, then it’s up to you to choose what accompaniments you fancy. I was fairly restrained in my selections, but that didn’t stop me walking away with a pitta so full that I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to get it anywhere near my face. I valiantly managed it though, and was able to eat around two thirds before giving up. My advice: come hungry. And be wary with your coat choice: I ended up with two wide sleeves full of red cabbage.
The Kofta Bar
Being a sucker for falafel – theirs is sundried tomato flavour – I went for the veggie option at this stall. It was delicious and, coming in a wrap, was slightly easier to eat than Eat-a-Pitta’s version, though the two were pretty neck and neck, taste-wise. I was disappointed I didn’t go for the kofta though, which smelled delicious, and my friends assured me tasted just as good. Next time!
Originally founded in Bristol, pieminister pies have become somewhat legendary. It seems appropriate therefore, that a street food market in their home town should feature their wares. They’ve got all the pastry-encased classics: steak and kidney; steak and ale; chicken and bacon; as well as a good number of veggie options. I tried the peahock pie (ham hock with garden peas and mustard) and it didn’t disappoint. The perfect antidote to a cold day.
The Caribbean lady
All the classics – jerk chicken, curried goat, rice and peas. Very tempting on a cold day.
The Italian Man
This stall offers a nice range of carb-rich fare, from classic creamy carbonara to tomato-y options. Also plenty of piping hot pasta bakes. It has a small seating area so you can also sit down to enjoy your purchases, which can be accompanied by salad and/ or garlic bread. Apparently the meatballs are particularly good. Looked filling!
Al Bab Mansour
This place looked like it belonged in a souk – it had a small enclosed seating area decorated with plush fabrics and jewelled cushions to transport you far from the West Country – and it gave off smells to complete the picture. It was pricier than the other stalls, but was much more like a restaurant experience: the menu consisted of pungent smelling spiced lamb dishes, cous cous, and even more falafel. Good for escapism.
The Bristol Sausage Shop
Not much more I can say about this stall really – they sell sausages! And they looked delicious too.
I had intended to visit the market one final time to take pictures but unfortunately was snowed in! Therefore pictures of stalls come courtesy of: gourmetgorro.blogspot.com; qype.co.uk; lovefoodpinny.wordpress.com; bristolculture.wordpress.com