Gastronomic adventures have been on the back burner in the TGE household for the past week due to a fairly hectic schedule. So hectic in fact that it has produced the rarest of rare reactions in me…. I lost my appetite! Stress/excitement are pretty much the only things which will kill my appetite (any other emotion just makes me EVEN HUNGRIER!) so this is a highly unusual state of affairs.
The last time this happened was 3 days before the wedding, when all the excitement proved too much and I swung between being exceptionally calm, pleasantly (I think) hysterical and completely unable to eat anything. The day before ‘The Big Day’ I had only managed to eat one chip, resulting in The Mothership taking matters into her own hands and lovingly but forcefully feeding me a Greek yogurt. Funnily enough I actually felt much better after that, it’s almost like Mums know best, isn’t it?
The morning of the wedding rolled around quickly and one of the BridesBoys was assigned to gently spoon granola and fruit into my face, as if tending a baby bird… though by this point I had a large glass of prosecco in hand and felt like a Queen while I was Cinderella’d into looking like a Bride by the clever folk at Atelier hairdressers. It turns out when I feel like a Queen, and most especially when I have a glass of something lovely in hand, I actually get pretty hungry… The Feeding of the Bride role became both easier and substantially more time consuming than first assumed…
So, what did I need to do to break this recent appetite problem? That’s right I needed a drink. And not just any drink, I needed a brunch time drink. Although morning drinking is generally considered pretty much unacceptable, brunch drinking – much like wedding morning drinking – is absolutely fine. What’s lovelier than a glass of fizz with your poached eggs? It’s jaunty, it’s fun, it’s in no way a cry for help! There’s been an explosion of ‘bottomless prosecco’ brunch offers in the past 6 months proving that not only is drinking is fine, drinking a bottomless amount with you toast is better. I actually did a London based bottomless prosecco with the BridesBoy who was in charge of feeding me wedding day granola (he was also in charge of ‘My Feelings’ and cuddling me whenever requested. It was basically a dream job as you can imagine, he’s just about recovered…) and we maybe saw it more of a challenge than it was intended to be. We asked if the waiter if he could just leave the bottle with us and then bring another in about 15 minutes but apparently, “that’s taking things a bit far”. Pfft.
So, on a sunny Saturday morning Mr TGE and I wandered down North Street in Bedminster to The Old Bookshop, to sample the brunch and cocktail menu we had heard so much about. Previously ‘Head of Food’ at Friska, Alex Burnett has failry recently taken over as permanent chef at The Old Bookshop and revamped the menu with a focus on local and ethical suppliers. Excitingly, this has led to a partnership with the wonderful Psychopomp Microdistillery who have produced a short but interesting brunch cocktail menu.
An eclectically decorated venue with an array of mismatched furniture, shelves adorned with exotic trinkets and a boarding on alarming amount of taxidermy, The Old Bookshop is one of North Street’s most distinctive venues. A curious squirrel peered down at us from the wall while we settled into our sunny window seats to peruse the brunch menu (served 11am – 3pm)….
That’s didn’t actually take long as there are 3 “plates” to choose from and 3 cocktails – you can choose one plate and one cocktail for a very reasonable £12.50, or if you’re insisting that your body is a temple and you want to have the option to lift weights later (as in Mr TGE’s case), the plates are £8-£9 alone. Food wise you can choose between the Bookshop fry up, the Veggie fry up or smoked haddock kedgeree with slow poached eggs and crispy kale. Mr TGE, being the temple that he is, went for the veggie fry up whilst I opted for the kedgeree.
I had a harder time deciding between the 3 cocktail choices – The Full English (citrus aperitivo, Woden gin and cold Earl Grey tea), The Salty Dog (Woden gin, grapefruit juice, pickle juice, lemon and lemon salt) or The Bloody Mary (Pyschopomp’s house akvavit, lemon, tomato mix, Worcester sauce, hot sauce blend and celery salt). After agonising for a few minutes, I went for The Salty Dog and tried not to think about the pickle juice which I was fairly sure was going to be horrible.
Served with a flourish in a tall frosted glass the peachy pink cocktail looked and smelled divine. The lemon salt which dusted the rim was moreish in itself – if you like margaritas you’ll like The Salty Dog. The grapefruit was sharp and sweet with a decidedly decent hit of Pyscopomp’s famous Woden gin. The pickle juice gave the cocktail a pleasant bite to it and was subtler than I expected as I was worried it might overpower the other flavours. Mr TGE generously took a large sip as well, all in the name journalistic integrity you understand, to test if it really was as delicious as I claimed. He agreed that it was lovely.
Soon, two huge steaming bowls were delivered to us and we tucked straight in. The slow poached eggs topped my mound of kedgeree, wobbling temptingly. They oozed a golden yolk when split, perfectly cooked. The rice was beautifully spiced and flavourful, heavily flaked with a generous amount of smoked haddock throughout. Equally delicious was the homemade brown sauce which I requested. Thick, sweet and tangy, I absolutely loved it and devoured the pot. The kale which, much like the pickle juice, I hadn’t actually been looking forward to was delicious. I’ve really tried to like kale, I’ve put it in smoothies and everything, but usually it’s just not for me and I was expecting to politely scrape it onto Mr TGE’s plate. But no! It was crispy and salty, adding a pleasant amount of seasoning to the dish. The portion size was ambitious and I couldn’t finish it despite my best efforts.
Mr TGE’s plate of veggie brunch was equally brimming with delicious things featuring baked mushroom, vegetable fritter, poached eggs, potato hash, baked beans and thick wedges of sourdough toast. I wish I could tell you a little bit more about how it actually tasted but MR TGE was not in the mood for sharing and swiftly inhaled it all – which probably tells you all you need to know? A fairly resounding thumbs- up.
As part of this weekend’ #BreakfastInBedminster event, The Old Bookshop will be hosting a special ‘The (break)fast and the furious’ themed brunch featuring a special menu, cocktails, fast & furious film screening, scalextrics in the garden and a 4-wheeled special guest…
So, whether you prefer your brunch fast, slow or just downright boozy, The Old Bookshop is dishing up some of the best brunch that Bristol has to offer. Appetite returned!