Let's all just sit back for a moment and take stock. It's been a busy year in Bristol's food
scene, from countless new openings (with over 20 in Cargo 2 alone!) to festivals, awards and loony events like Bristol in the sky.
Of course one of the most noticeable trends this year was the wave of burger restaurants popping up all over the city, from Squeezed in Wapping Wharf to Asado on Colston St, and street food faves Burger Theory finally finding a permanent home on Baldwin St.
But what does 2018 hold in store for us keen munchers? Will it be more of the same, or will we all be existing on a diet of quinoa porridge 6 months from now?
Here are Shonette Laffy's predictions for what's coming up in Bristol food and drink in 2018...
Coffee has long dominated the hot beverage scene in Bristol (spare a thought for our fallen homies Bovril and Horlicks); we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to excellent local roasters and first rate coffee shops to drink them in. However tea has steadily been regaining ground. Where once we drank several cups of milky PG Tips, now you can get high quality loose leaf and bagged teas in most cafes, as well as crazy infusions with flavours like sangria or bakewell tart to take home from Bluebird Tea. Will we see some specialist tea cafes opening in the coming months? I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
There may have been a big focus on ‘dude food' (urgh) and meaty fare for the past few years, but Bristol has also seen its fair share of great vegan places opening such as Flow, 1847 and Earthcake. Many other restaurants here have taken a ‘veg first, meat as a treat' Approach recently, such as No.1 Harbourside. I reckon this will only continue in the coming months, as people become more health and environmentally conscious. Plus, now that the veg options on offer in many places are just as – if not more – exciting than meat, it's better than ever to step out of your safe zone and order something vegtastic!
A step on from going veg-based, the raw food movement has been big in US cities for years
but hasn't made much of an impact here yet. However, I for one have started noticing more
carpaccio, ceviche and tartare on menus, and now that Jamaica St Stores have dedicated a
whole section of their menu to raw dishes, I think more people will branch out. For the
record, despite raw food being marketed as more nutritious, this isn't the case with many
foods, but it can bring out some great natural flavours.
We’ve already seen Foozie’s retro crisp buffet, prawn cocktail at The Ox and vol au vents atWellbourne, but I reckon other businesses will cotton on next year, with their own gourmet versions of crispy pancakes, kievs, potato waffles, maybe even a loving reboot of spaghetti hoops, arctic rolls, Angel Delight and - dare I say it - Billy Bear ham (maybe not). If anyone can do me a version of the frankfurter burger I had at Starburger as a kid they will have my loyal custom forever.
Wait wait, I know – a bar without booze? What sort of a world would that be? Well lucky for us Bristol has top notch pubs and bars coming out of its ears, but often those avoiding alcohol are stuck with coffee shops or ice cream parlours, which don't offer the same vibe or social aspects of a good old boozer. Dry bars have sprung up in London, Nottingham and Liverpool offering the same fun time atmosphere but serving alcohol-free cocktails and other drinks. I for one think this is something Bristol can and should take to the next level. Hopefully 2018 is the year to do it!
Not just the diet of your average jungle-inhabiting D list celeb, oh no, insects are being pushed as the next big food trend - whether we like it or not. Cultures across the world chow down on these critters, and again this is a bit more eco-friendly way of balancing your diet. Having tried some cajun-flavoured, roasted crickets at Small Bar a few months back, I can’t say I had any complaints. But who will be the first Bristol restaurant to introduce them to their menu? We’ve got more than enough talented & trusted chefs in this town to step up to the challenge.
It’s not all saving the world and your waistline – there will be stodge too! I think there will be a tilt towards more comforting or wholesome foods as people tire of meat-centric or ‘junk’ food. The success of places such as Pasta Loco (and their soon-to-be-open sister restaurant Pasta Ripiena) and Bomboloni show what an appetite there is for sort of food already, and I fully expect more places to jump on the Italian bandwagon in the coming months.
I can’t be the only one to have noticed more kimchi, gherkins and other assorted pickled veg appearing on more dishes, and I for one welcome our fermented friends. These acidic little pickles can really help lift a dish and apparently also aid digestion - all the more helpful if you’re a bit of a scoffer like myself.
Play with your food
I’ve long been a fan of the imaginative cocktails at Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but we haven’t really had the food equivalent yet. Sure, there’s been the exploratory food events from Cuisine + Colour and Understory, as well as the swings and boardgames available while you munch at Playground Coffee Co - we’ve also now got our own Audiophile Bar in the form of Edit on Cheltenham Road. However I think that there’s more to come on the playful side of food, whether it’s in the form of imaginative food creations, silly events or other ways to get us to release our inner child.
Of course these are just my guesses - so what food and drink trends do you think we’ll see in Bristol in 2018? Or what businesses would you like to open in the city? I for one would love us to get a dedicated Malaysian restaurant, as well as some decent fried chicken (so far we’re limited to a couple of good chicken burgers and the goodies from Wing’s Diner), but I’d love to hear what you all think!