Easton Guide

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Zero Zero

Speak to any true fan of the Italian pie and Zero Zero will be hailed as the real deal. Yet what constitutes the perfect pizza is subjective. The tomato to cheese ratio. A thick or thin base. Whether an egg should ever be laid anywhere but on the floor of a chicken pen. Zero Zero acknowledges this by offering a selective menu of favorites, and sticking to a winning combination of four items: ‘za, wings, coffee and wine.

To the pizza­’de resistance. That first bite into the crisp, leavened dough. The whole grain bases cradling wholesome toppings between spongy crusts. A choice of sourdough reflecting knowledge about best baking techniques rather than an attempt to jump on the latest food­fad.

Portion size is spot on, medium weight sponginess to a sourdough base that makes for a filling meal even if you opt for the 9″. The larger 12″ leaves room for more topping but potentially less for the accompaniments. The kitchen carefully caters for vegetarians too, offering an intriguing deep fried tofu in a similar BBQ­ style sauce to the chicken wings. This option is a cutting blow to bean curd skeptics and ­- we wager ­- could satisfy most carnivorous cravings.

If you remain unconvinced that this space is any different to rivals, check out the weekly wine menu. Wine might seem an obvious tipple at an Italian inspired eatery, and at first glance this is no different, but any seasoned wino will be treated to a rare offering of French options imported from a micro­vineyard in the sunny provinces. Darling. The affection of the (partially) French owner, Estelle, for this part of the menu is showcased in an offering of five different takeaway or dine in quantities, complete with re­-fillable bottles so you’re never without. Santé.

Website: zero-zero.co.uk          Twitter: @zerozeroeaston          Facebook: Zero Zero Easton

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East Bristol Bakery

From freshly baked beginnings in the East, this bakery’s in high demand to deliver across the city. Refined dining favourites – including No. 12 Easton and Pata Negra – favour East Bristol Bakery as provider of the daily loaf. And for good reason.

It’s no surprise when contemplating the loaves lining the shelves, the incredible smells and variation of textures. There’s a lot of action behind the scenes of this small building with a simple shop front.  Despite popularity amongst the metropolitan types, this bakery sits unpretentiously nestled along St Marks St and remains a part of the local community. East Bristol nails it; contemporary but traditional, no frills yet full of exciting offerings.

For years bread has been touted as the foodstuff of horrors. Driven by low-carb food fads, it was supposed to be sinful to consume and a sure way to pile on the pounds. With a new understanding of proper production and the wholesomeness of wholegrain, the popularity of artisan bread has spread. The ‘sourdough and preserves’ now sits as standard a-top every well-respected menu – a beneficial option that keeps purses and plates full.

Bakers tend to have an infectious enthusiasm and the man behind East Bristol Bakery attests to this. A self-proclaimed sourdough specialist, Alex Poulter has readopted the old age techniques, omitting added yeast and using minimal ingredients. The sourdough is made using a long fermentation process. Without added yeast to raise the dough, a longer time (roughly 24 hours) is needed for the dough to develop. This produces a special depth of taste and texture, and because the enzymes have begun to break down the flour gluten during this time the finished loaf is much easier for digestion.  At a time when every Tom, Dick and Harry has self-diagnosed gluten intolerance, real bread could offer a cure to this phenomenon.

The best offering from East Bristol Bakery is the late opening hours, allowing busy commuters to drop by and collect or reserve bread at its fresh-best. With the majority of office hours being in opposition to food outlets, the bakery has modernised the tradition of the ‘daily loaf’.

Website: eastbrisbakery.tumblr.com   Twitter: @eastbrisbakery   Facebook: East Bristol Bakery

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No. 12 Easton

The waffles at No.12 have a time limit. Being somewhat of a secret between locals and homemade on site, early birds catch the best breakfast at weekends here.

This Belgian breakfast of champions comes as a deep, crispy disc buried beneath a range of choice toppings. The goodness in a mouthful of sugared strawberries and creamy Greek yoghurt provides the fuel to set you up till the Sunday roast.

And this is just a snapshot of the No.12 showcase. Easton was arguably limited in terms of dining destinations, and health food fanatics in the area and were (perhaps) long deprived of jars of saffron and garlic­stuffed artichokes . Being a combination of coffee shop, deli and early dinner destination, No. 12 has proved a salvation to locals looking for high grade produce.

Decoration is sparse but walls are lined with colourful tins and culinary delights to ponder over as you cradle your coffee cup. With barbour shop brickwork and suspended lighting, it has been slated as a testament to the gentrification of Bristol’s west side. But the cafe classics, Ikea tables and bacon butties, make it a welcoming space to anybody and any belly.

At Wriggle we appreciate support of all things local. No.12 sources bread loaves by the load from East Street Bakery and coffee beans from the renowned roasters Extract. Get there early, grab a seat in one of the wide window hot­spots and get those waffles.

Website: 12easton.com          Twitter: @No12Easton          Facebook: No. 12 Easton

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Maitreya Social

Are you a vegetarian sick of defending your decision to boycott beef? Or are you a carnivore fed up of being fed up with falafel whilst feasting with herbivorous friends? Whichever side of the fence you sit, you’ve probably had to compromise on dining out.

With the number of declared vegetarians doubling in Britain over the last two years, bargaining over where to eat out with one another is commonplace. The menu at Maitreya Social proves that vegetarianism does not leave you eating leaves (just in case you hadn’t already realised). Switching up the tired stereotype, dishes here are inventive, filling and diverse, with the length and medley of the menu outweighing other venues on this list.

Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, Maitreya is an anomaly, with an exclusively meat-free menu running dusk till dawn (all day and all evening). The funky décor may not be to everyone’s taste, but the space is clear of clutter. A beautiful bar acts as a scenic centerpiece at which to pull up a chair to whilst awaiting a table. This offers a great introduction to the chalkboard menus and much needed time to ponder over options.

Foreign sounding foodstuffs such as ‘pickled purple potatoes’ beg for questions. Luckily, staff are obliging, keen to explain the process and production of unusual dishes. Pop in for the evening menu if you appreciate a plate almost too attractive to eat ­ the creative chefs clearly value presentation. With tables overlooking the kitchen, customers can watch as they paint plates in jus and purees.

Each dish showcases the assorted food combinations in Pollock­esk presentations. for instance, a starter of sautéed Colcannon potato cakes makes a charming symmetry of the much­loved mashed potato. Whipped to a creamy consistency by the addition of almond milk, mint pesto adds a zingy taste and colour. Move onto an Asian main course to sample where Maitreya really excels. A favourite among many (but rarely seen on the menu) is Laska, made with cauliflower, noodles and pak choi. Tamarind is a tricky ingredient to get right, but the coconut quantity in this Malaysian soup forms a delicately spiced sauce.

Website: cafemaitreya.co.uk          Twitter: @maitreyasocial          Facebook: Maitreya Social

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Thali Café

In the 2013 Bollywood blockbuster The Lunch Box, there is resonating and repeated scenario in which the protagonist breaks from a busy morning for lunch. Office­bound Sajaan takes a quiet moment, draws out a tower of tiffin trays and delicately pops open each layer to reveal an array of exquisite grub. Grastroporn at the movies, the vivid colours of each course within the containers get saliva going. At least it was dark in there.

For many western viewers, this selection of dishes is as far from a notion of ‘India’ as we are. Reportedly Britain’s favourite cuisine, it is unfortunate that what most of us consider classics are western hybrids. Consider the chicken tikka masala. Thought to originate from Glasgow, it’s usually served as chunks of meat pulled together in an over­cooked and under­spiced slop. If this and the korma are your fail­safe options, then give Thali a miss. For seekers of something fun and fresh; try Thali tiffins for an authentic taste of traditional North India. And there is no longer a need to cross continents, with cafe outlets in Easton, Montpelier,Clifton Southville and Totterdown.

Across Bristol, the Thali Café has established itself as a successful small­scale chain. Though this may sound like a recipe for bigger branding and bulk­made meals, owners Sid, Sam and Jim have managed the unmanageable and stayed true to original values. Way back in 1990 this enterprising trio started a campaign for tiffin traditions across UK festivals. The success of the venture led to a permanent outlet set up on a cosy Montpelian corner.

‘Thali’ is the Hindi term for ‘plate’; traditionally a large silver dish acting as base for a selection of meat or veggie mini platters, chapattis, chutneys and parantha style breads. And this is as far as this paragraph can go; it’s too complicated and we have the aid of some excellent photographs. However, the fresh juices and creamy lassis – including an exotic Jaipur Strawberry and Rosewater mix – balance spicier dishes, whilst cocktail o’clock at selected outlets between 5pm and 7pm is a perfect chill out time before turning up the thali heat.

Though the food is brilliant, what has accumulated to the café’s inevitable success is the overall experience. Having finished up in­house, visitors are encouraged to take on the thali lifestyle home. Tiffin boxes are sold at £27.50, and these reusable and heatable pots include a free fill up when purchased. A great means of grabbing takeaway the eco­friendly way, subsequent refills are cheap at around £9. Watch out for sporadic deals such as two thali’s (that’s six ­ 6” tins worth!) for £15, often posted on their Twitter.

Website: thethalicafe.co.uk          Twitter: @thethalicafe          Facebook: The Thali Cafe

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Greenbank

Rejoice that the tyrannical efforts of Bristol Council’s Development Control Committee can fail. Fueled by a thirst for firewater, the Easton community campaigned for three years to keep The Greenbank from demolition. An interest in conserving what is left of pre­ Blitz Bristol supported the need for a decent public house in the BS4 postcode. Valued as part of Bristol’s industrial past, this iconic building is one of several historic places of interest in the area, including the Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Factory.

Having defied redevelopment, The Greenbank is now a story of successful crusades and a caring community. The new management has made a point of supporting local causes and companies. A nearby family micro­brewery is regularly featured at the bar and the specialty of an Extract batch is showcased in a perfectly served espresso. The Boom Boom Room night is a folk night whose name reflects the buzz, and a weekly affair for a faction of the sociable Easton crowd.

The Greenbank is also part of a growing circle of stand up venues in Bristol, as pubs become a popular choice to see live comedy in a relaxed setting. Reviews have been positive and have encouraged the management to accommodate more unusual evenings. Maybe the most eclectic list we’ve seen, the events include a mix of workshops, sing alongs, arts classes and Spanish sessions. And the large capacity allows these dynamic affairs to play out in the best possible space.

The culinary maestros at Zazu’s are in charge of The Greenbank’s kitchen. Whilst food is not as refined as that served at the former, the fine­dine influence is still there. The emphasis on quality produce remains and swanky presentation is swapped for a more informal and fun form of ‘bowls’. Another Easton eatery benefiting from the East Bristol Bakery, pizza is the doughy centerpiece to a succinct menu and even offers the hard­to­find ‘gluten free’ option.

Website: thegreenbankbristol.co.uk     Twitter: @GreenbankEaston      Facebook: Greenbank

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Easy Rawlins

‘The perfect poached egg’ is a praise often thrown around. Saturday mornings mean an Instagram feed strewn with the phrase, posted alongside snaps of carefully boiled blobs. But -­ just maybe – ­there’s never been a poached­-egg poached as darn perfectly as Easy Rawlings produce them.

It’s rare to receive food that feels and tastes authentically home made when out. Owner Billie Ibidun sprinkles  classics with influences from a Caribbean background. Keen to banish the bloat, she transforms classic concoctions into a benefit for the bowls. Without the cultural appropriation, real deal southern cuisine is served up.

Afro­-Caribbean cuisine can have a reputation for being deep­fried and smothered in butter. The menu at Easy Rawlings is a surprising list of all good ingredients – vegan, gluten free and stuffed with super­foods. The diner is part of the ‘exclusive’ Vegan Lifestyle Association, testifying a commitment to eco­conscious consumption. An abundance of vegan options come in a comforting style, making it a must visit for those adopting this potentially limiting lifestyle.

Touted as the ‘best vegan breakfast in Bristol’, this plug may not appeal to all. Far from being of vegan value only, big­boned breakfast seekers can still get their brawns worth. A creative culinary take on the classic fry­up more than compensates for being bacon-free. Tomatoes are baked full of lentils, cheese can be smothered unsparingly and sizzling sausages are available to those who cannot omit meat.

Need a bit of comfort in your Saturday morning ritual of coffee and brunch? There’s a peculiar feeling of déjà vu when entering this bustling diner. Decorated in a disarray of teapots and cake tiers, Grandma could pop out with a fresh batch of your favourite bake at any moment. Obligingly, Billie has unconsciously created a kitchen away from your kitchen. The room is a rustic and refreshing alternative to showy restaurants, and reflects the relaxed approach to swell service. Race down to Rawlings – and wolf down a portion – before the secret gets round.

Twitter: @RawlinsEaston           Facebook: Easy Rawlins

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The Ping Pong Parlour

For one night each week an Easton church transforms, and the congregation is made up of a flurry of bats and balls. If you worship table tennis then The Ping Pong Parlour is the best spot to devote and indulge.

Ping Pong is relatively simple, and so is the Parlour’s concept. Based at a church in Easton, the event founders attend each session to set up six or seven tables and whack on some great music to get visitors going. It’s instantly informal, relaxed and at a price of £5 all night (or £3 with membership) it’s a bargain bucket of cheap laughs.

Help is on hand from enthusiastic pros to those who unabashedly throw about the bat. The guys running this show are dedicated to creating an inclusive environment, approachable and eager to give hints and tips on your backhand. For those in need of refreshment, choose from a small selection of biscuits, cakes and caffeinated drinks – perfect for a mid pong pick­me­up.

We all know Tuesday evenings are one of the worst. Making it to bed on a Monday feels like an accomplishment – and by Wednesday teatime the weekend seems nigh. Make Tuesday a day to look towards; bring a few beers and mix up partners to play other friendly punters. You’re guaranteed a fun (if unsuccessful) evening, making it a night of winners all round.

The pleasantry extends beyond the parlour, having caught the attention of Bristol’s participation in a nationwide festival. Ping! is dedicated to distributing the game (literally) across the city, sporadically setting up tables to promote ‘random acts of ping pong’. Watch out for ping pong pop-­ups between June and July each summer and see the Ping!

Website: thepingpongparlour.co.uk   Twitter: @pingpongparlour   Facebook: Ping Pong Parlour

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The Plough

The Plough is a pub of no pretense. Imagine all things Bristol packed into a single space. The dreadlocks, soft ska beats, beer consumed by the bucket load. Think the delightful combination of football enthusiasm and a liberal outlook. Add a few more anomalies – a meerkat mascot pint glass and a huge projection screen with church pews.

The Plough is the stuff of legends. Locals will recount to you tales of the intrepid Easton Cowboys and Cowgirls. Beginning their conquest back in the 80’s, this team of football fanatics grew to join the local league. Members claim that the infamous Banksy played position of goalkeeper during early sessions, and the Cowboys have a proudly positive political stance of being anti­racist, anti­homophobic and anti­fascist.

Football is not the be all and end all, however. Bar staff chat to locals without service driven insincerity and proudly create a family­friendly vibe. The garden benches are surprisingly snug, and strangers become friends as punters share tables and conversation. This may leave you secured into buying rounds, but prices start low at around £3 per pint; a haven to pooped ­out parents and hard grafting laborers alike.

The Plough is not the place for your dose of daily vitamins. The grub is that of a proper pub – crisps and pork scratchings by the carb load for soaking up pints. An adequate nibbles worth can be purchased for under a pound, leaving the extra pennies for an evening of beverages.

Weekends host regular reggae and ska performances from local and national names, including Sean Kuti (son of the infamous Fela Kuti) earlier this year. Such nights end in the early hours after some solid dancing. Even the Facebook page acts as a secondary social space. Empty of any marketing ­minded posts, events are haphazardly declared and jokes are exchanged with punters.

So there’s a lot on offer from such a little pub. With it’s perfect positioning, The Plough even often offers an after­party to Bristol’s Carnival. This is prime time to visit, so note down The Plough and St Pauls side by side in your plans.

Twitter: @ThePloughEaston          Facebook: The Plough Inn

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Written by Holly Nash.

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Wriggle | Award-winning app for food drink and fun in Bristol, Brighton & London.

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