Learning that mum and dad are coming up to see me for a Saturday night or Sunday lunch always makes me feel one of two ways; either overly excited or a tad stressed. And this feeling is all dependent on one thing; who’s going to pay?!
I will happily hold my hands up and say that when my parents say dinner or drinks will be their treat, I will book us a table at one of my favourite – and most expensive – restaurants in Bristol; or pick a place I’ve always wanted to try and couldn’t afford on my own. The struggle of being a twentysomething foodie is real guys!
However, when I offer to pay, and when annoyingly this offer is accepted, I conduct my search for a place to eat or drink like I conduct my search for my pre-drink bottle of wine… look for the bottle with the highest percentage of alcohol at the lowest possible price. In essence, when picking a place I want to find somewhere where the food and drinks are still delicious, but reasonably priced.
So to all of you that share this dilemma with me, I have created a list of places to go with your parents for all different occasions. Whether you’re looking for somewhere nice and cosy to eat, or looking for a fancy place to share some bubbly for a special occasion, I’ve got you covered.
You’re Paying – Yurt Lush: This cute little cafe and bar in a Mongolian yurt creates a warming, quirky and inviting venue. Whilst the menu is created by head chef Oscar Davis in collaboration with Josh Eggleton – chef patron of The Pony & Trap, you can order a delicious light lunch or brunch at a good price. My mum would definitely have the battered fish finger bap, pickled red cabbage, tartare sauce and fries.
They’re Paying – Bar Buvette: When I walk in here, I feel as though I’ve stepped into a Spanish family’s dining room, it just feels so quaint and homely! They serve an exquisite seasonal menu consisting of tapasy style dishes, making this a great place to bring your family for a mellow lunch or early dinner where you can share some amazing food and great conversation.
You’re Paying – North Street Standard: A sleek, sophisticated bar that looks deceivingly expensive! They serve delicious bar food classics, and I would highly recommend any of their burgers with fries. But for something a bit more fun, I would bring my mum here for a decent bottle of wine, or a few ice cold beers in the summer time to have a good ol’ natter in a lively atmosphere.
They’re Paying – Hyde and Co: A vintage style cocktail bar that your parents will definitely appreciate. The classy interior makes for an excellent setting to enjoy a unique array of cocktails made by some fine mixologists who have honed their craft! Whilst it may be a bit on the pricey side, after two cocktails your parents will be so merry they will be happy to splash the cash!
They’re Paying – The Library: For all the parents out there who know how to appreciate a good bottle of wine. You are all guaranteed to find a bottle that you will enjoy! The simplistic decor and low lighting attracts many a wine connoisseur, creating an excellent atmosphere to talk through the night away with a glass in hand.
You’re Paying – Pasta Loco: Serving Italian classics with a twist. The price of the food hasn’t impacted on the quality – your parents will certainly feel as though they are being treated to a proper Italian feast! The steamed mussels followed by the orzo risotto with sundried tomatoes and seared scallops made for a rich, unctuous and beautiful lunch that my mum adored!
They’re Paying – Casamia: Now I would only suggest this place if you have something SERIOUSLY big to celebrate. However, once you finally convince your parents to take you here, you will struggle to have a dining experience like it again. The ever-changing tasting menu created by chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias will take 3.5 hours to enjoy. So sit back, relax and enjoy this incredible banquet.
You’re Paying – Aqua Italia: With the wonderful Bristol Harbourside as the view, this restaurant has a quality menu of crowd pleasing dishes – all reasonably priced – that your parents will love. I enjoyed a G&T with carpaccio followed by slow roasted pork cheeks. If you feel like treating your parents to something a bit more decadent, I would recommend indulging in some of the Colchester oysters which are dressed in red wine vinegar and finely sliced shallots, utterly divine.
You’re Paying – The Bank Tavern: If you’re looking for a pub that serves hearty, flavourful Sunday roasts that won’t break the bank then this is the place for you. Whilst in this proper, old school, dingy pub, I would feast on their ham hock, puffed pig skin and piccalilli and then their rare roast cow with all the trimmings. If I had enough room for dessert, I would go for the classic sticky date pudding, salted caramel and custard. You will definitely have a food baby after leaving this place.
They’re Paying – The Pony and Trap: Arguably one of my favourite ever restaurants! This pub looks over acres of rolling countryside – the perfect backdrop for a rich, overly-indulgent three course Sunday roast. You know you’re in good hands when you discover that your meal has been created by culinary royalty Josh and Holly Eggleton. If I were you, I would order the venison faggot, roast pork chop with pig cheeks and the apple cake. I was in a food coma for a long time after this, but it was totally worth it.
You’re Paying – The Old Market Assembly: This is a great place to enjoy a quality roast, full of flavour that won’t make you feel as though you’ve gained 10 pounds after eating it. With three different meats to choose from and a fish and veggie alternative also available, your family will find something to satisfy their Sunday roast cravings. The pressed saddleback pork belly with apple sauce and cauliflower cheese is a personal favourite of mine.
PUB & GRUB
You’re Paying – The Gallimaufry: Everyone in Bristol has been to this iconic pub for a pint at some point in their lives. And whilst it’s a great place to enjoy a casual night out, this pub also serves some deliciously unique and interesting dishes. My mum loves any form of picky food, so if I was taking her here we would order a selection of their galli plates including some of my mum’s favourites; monkfish with girolles, Onglet steak with horseradish and parsnip with pear and celeriac.
You’re Paying – The Industry: One of the newer editions to Gloucester Road. Their menu of modernised classic pub grub makes for an easy, mellow dining experience. You can choose whether you want to share some small plates – including their delectable beef brisket fritters with bacon jam – or go for a proper hearty pub meal. Their braised beef short rib with mashed potato and red wine jus is to die for.
They’re Paying – The Kensington Arms: This is what I would call a proper British pub! A great place to come to when your parents want to treat you to a slap up pub lunch or dinner. Everything you see on the menu is what you would expect to see in any British pub, but their dishes taste anything but bog standard. Once you’ve ordered your meal, make sure one of your family members order the breaded haddock, crushed peas, chips and tartare sauce, alongside the pickled mackerel with sardine ketchup so you can try it too… sharing is caring!
CASUAL & RELAXED
They’re Paying – Paco Tapas: The place to be to enjoy some seriously good tapas. This dark, cave like restaurant serves devilishly mourish dishes. Great for a late lunch or early dinner with a bottle of bubbly, you can start your meal with some small nibbles. I would choose to start with their Spanish tortilla, anchovies, marinated olives and some crusty bread with oil. When you’re ready to chow down, you have to order the crab croquetas patatas bravas, octopus and quail with dates.
They’re Paying – Bellita: Literally meaning “little beauty” in Spanish, this restaurant is well… a little beauty! It makes for an ideal place to bring your family if they are wanting to treat you to a nice relaxing meal. As the sister restaurant is Bell’s Diner, you can expect the menu to include lots a spanish, North African and Middle Eastern style dishes, which are designed to be shared.
You’re Paying – Dela: An ideal restaurant to take your family to experience some trendy, fashionable cuisine at a decent price. Creating food which can be shared is at the heart of this restaurant’s ethos. Their menu consists of Swedish style sharing boards and if I was taking my mum, I would order the Scandinavian fish board – seeing that is has sea bass crackling with aioli is enough to make me order the whole board.
You’re Paying – Bambalan: You can’t get my off their rooftop balcony in the summer! Definitely bring your family here for a quick and easy East meets West brunch. They serve a warming chai spiced hot chocolate; a great accompaniment to their full bam brekkie, consisting of Toulouse sausage, baked eggs, potato and chickpea hash brown, spiced chickpeas and beans with sourdough. I can assure you every single one of your family members will leave here feeling full.