Bristol has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any city in the UK outside London. Here we round up the fabulous five, as well as the pair of places awarded a Bib Gourmand – defined by the famous red guide as “exceptionally good food at moderate prices”. One Michelin star, in case you’re wondering, means “a very good restaurant” – and any of the restaurants below more than lives up to that.
One Michelin star restaurants in Bristol
What: Chef George Livesey and his wine-savvy partner Katherine Craughwell have turned these premises in Cotham into a genuine neighbourhood restaurant with a relaxed but very professional outlook. Seasonal favours and foraged pickings figuring prominently at Bulrush in the likes of barbecue broccoli with smoked junket and preserved lemon, while fish from West Country boats might yield turbot with tulip radish, green tea and crab. Katherine’s drinks list, meanwhile, covers everything from local beers, cider and cocktails to a decent showing of biodynamic wines.
Where: 21 Cotham Road South, BS6 5TZ
What: SquareMeal’s UK Restaurant of the Year 2018 is a hugely impressive harbourside venture located on the ground floor of the old Bristol General Hospital building, now given a stylish 21st-century makeover in chic neutrals. Casamia's enthusiastic staff aid and abet the chefs in the open kitchen as they take diners on an immensely flavoursome gastronomic journey inspired by the seasons. One-word descriptions (‘salad’, ‘turbot’, ‘duck’) give few clues to the sheer brilliance of the food, but all is revealed once the delicately complex creations start arriving on bespoke crockery.
Where: The General, Lower Guinea Street, BS1 6FU
What: Next door to Casamia, chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’s second Michelin-starred restaurant is a return to the Sanchez family’s Spanish roots and it’s done with real conviction. Paco Tapas is a genuine slice of Andalusia down by the Bristol waterside, complete with barrels, patterned tiles, seats by the counter and a fiery Spanish-style grill dominating the open kitchen. The brown-paper menu is short, but bang on the money: cured meats, croquetas, stuffed quail and giant prawns from the Canaries. Apart from sherry, drinkers have a terrific choice of Spanish regional wines as well as giant G&Ts served in balloon glasses.
Where: 3A The General, Lower Guinea Street, BS1 6SY
What: A 200-year-old cottage boozer in the heart of the Chew Valley, The Pony & Trap is prized for its bar food as well as its Michelin-starred dining room – although there’s not a starched tablecloth to be seen anywhere. Family-run and dependant on chef Josh Eggleton’s foodie pals for many of its ingredients, this prestigious hostelry is well worth the short trip south of Bristol to the pretty village of Chew Magna. The likes of butter-poached brill with a hay-baked oyster, peas, radish and buttermilk are the reward for the journey. An excellent tasting menu (including a veggie version) wraps up the whole repertoire in a multi-course package and there’s a cracking Sunday roast, too.
Where: Knowle Hill, Chew Magna, BS40 8TQ
What: Chef James Wilks got his first break as a teenager working at Midsummer House in Cambridge, before travelling the globe and cooking in some serious Michelin-starred restaurants. Fast-forward a few years and James now has his own Michelin-starred gaff in Redland – with a mini art gallery attached. The food here is contemporary and seasonal, with West Country producers making a big contribution and culinary ideas gleaned from the chef’s travels. The fixed-price lunch deals are terrific value.
Where: 1 Chandos Road, BS6 6PG
Bib Gourmand restaurants in Bristol
What: Run by the ‘Eat, Drink, Bristol Fashion’ team, with The Pony & Trap’s Josh Eggleton at the helm, Root is a small-plates eatery with a novel USP: it isn’t strictly vegetarian, but plant-based dishes get priority over meat and fish options. It’s not that you won’t find a bavette steak with wild garlic and celeriac on the menu, just that the true creativity of the kitchen is shown in the likes of calcot onion with artichoke and pickled egg yolk. Matching the foodie line-up is a drinks list with sustainability and green values at its heart.
Where: Unit 9 Cargo 1, Gaol Ferry Steps, Wapping Wharf, BS1 6WP
What: A 23-seat restaurant located inside a former shipping container down by Bristol docks might not sound like the most salubrious of surroundings. But small dimensions don’t mean small ambitions and Tare looks every inch the slick modern dining room. Chef and owner Matt Hampshire worked as head chef at Riverstation and treats West Country ingredients to global technique in the likes of cured chalk stream trout given a strong Japanese accent with Dorset wasabi, dashi, sesame and mooli from a four-course seasonal menu that clocks in at £40; vegetarians get their own menu.
Where: Unit 14, Museum Street, Wapping Wharf, BS1 6ZA
More interested in waterside dining than Michelin stars? Check out our guide to Bristol's best harbourside restaurants and cafes