24 hours in Bristol with chef Freddy Bird
Born and bred in Bristol, chef Freddy Bird left his home town for the bright lights of London to work at The Square with Philip Howard and later at Moro with Sam and Sam Clark. In 2008, Freddy returned to Bristol where he met entrepreneur Arne Ringer and was given the opportunity to open a restaurant in what was a derelict swimming baths.
Dating back to 1849, the Clifton Victorian Baths were closed in 1990 and left until 2008 when Arne bought the site, following a local petition to ‘save the lido’, and they were renovated into The Bristol Lido with an outdoor swimming pool, spa and Freddy’s restaurant, bar and café.
Here’s how Freddy would spend 24 hours in his home city…
When I was younger, spending 24 food-filled hours in Bristol would have been impossible. Blackboy Hill and Park Street were the places to hang out but all that was on offer was cheap beer and kebabs. It was great fun at the time but then I moved to London and only after returning to Bristol, 10 years later, I couldn’t believe how far behind we were in the West Country.
I went back to Bristol in 2008 to open my restaurant Lido and, in the process, spent all my time making calls to suppliers who were taking the wonderful produce of the West Country and delivering to London. It was the larder of England but you couldn’t find a decent place to eat out!
Now I think you could argue Bristol has the most exciting food scene in the country. So, if I had 24 hours to eat my way around the city, this is what I would do:
7am: Buxton Butchers
First of all I have to take a trip to the fruit and veg market or to choose my beef at Buxton Butchers. Bristol may not have London’s New Covent Garden but the atmosphere of the market and chance to check out (the albeit rather limited) produce on the market is a great way to start the day.
I’m lucky that I get so many of my ingredients for home from my suppliers but when I do go out and shop I love the Better Food Company and also the Whiteladies Farmer’s Market (every other Saturday) where you can pick up some great ingredients including excellent chicken and trout from Stream Farm.
The coffee scene in Bristol is booming, you can get excellent coffee all over the city. My favourite coffee stops include Hart’s Bakery at Temple Meads – they have great coffee (using Extract Coffee Roasters) and also offer some of the best bread and pastries.
Spicer and Cole, in the leafy Clifton Village, is also good as is Pinkmans Bakery, on Park Street, which is the perfect pit stop for me when I’m travelling between The Lido (where I am the head chef) and the Glassboat (where I am the executive chef).
1pm: Wallfish Bistro
Lunch has to be at Wallfish Bistro, where the chefs practise flawless cooking without any fuss. The menu of simple ingredients, such as oysters, snails, bone marrow, turbot and côte de boeuf, is cooked perfectly and they serve great wine too.
3pm: Shopping on Gloucester Road
Gloucester Road has a great variety of shops. From a beard trim at Franco’s – for a moment to myself – to a stroll to Grape and Grind, one of Bristol’s best wine shops, or Weber and Tring’s which is perfect for hard-to-find spirits – great for home cocktail enthusiasts.
6pm: Hyde and Co
If we head for post-work drinks, we always head to Hyde and Co – a prohibition-style bar serving a great range of drinks – or The Victoria, next door to The Lido, is a damn good boozer.
8pm: Cotham Hill for tapas
There are too many bars in Bristol to mention but to line your stomach, before a big night, head to Bravas on Cotham Hill. Imogen, an old sous chef from The Lido, is the owner with her husband Kieran. It’s everything you need for a good night out – sherry, gin, a buzzing atmosphere, superb service, simple food and great prices.
Or, to properly line the stomach ahead of a big session, head to Three Brothers Burgers (run by a team of women) for a burger.
1am: A late-night snack
For very late night post-work feast, we go to The Mayflower. Situated under the bus station, it’s not the most glamorous location but it’s open until 3am and they serve authentic Chinese food. I’m a creature of habit when I go, regularly ordering my favourites – chilli squid, crispy fried pig’s intestines, steamed tripe and ginger – but the last time I was there I happened to be sharing with a table with Ken Hom who took me slightly further off piste and I wasn’t disappointed!
The Lido pictures taken by Andre Pattenden.