Review: The Kitchen, Bristol
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
When you live in a city where new cafes and restaurants seem to open every week, it can be easy to overlook more established venues which are just quietly getting on with their own business. The Kitchen had always been on my radar as I'd passed it when taking my kids next door to Laser Fusion on Silver Street, but I'd never ventured inside.
So I was delighted to be asked by City Munch Bristol to stop by The Kitchen one lunchtime to try a few dishes. As I'm vegetarian, I did my usual scan of the menu in advance to make sure it would have something suitable, but I needn't have worried as it soon became obvious there was plenty of choice.
Established since 2012, The Kitchen is a social enterprise training café run by the YMCA. It offers volunteering, training and employment opportunities to anyone looking to gain more experience in the hospitality industry.
I arrived at just before 12pm, and my first impressions of the space were really positive. Housed in the old fire station, it's a light, modern and airy venue, with lots of space for buggies. There is plenty of seating, including some comfy sofas next to a stack of kids' toys and games to keep small hands occupied. Whilst I was there, I spotted plenty of mums meeting up with their toddlers in tow, an older couple enjoying a coffee together, and a large table set up for an office workers' lunch later in the afternoon.
We were quickly served by the friendly staff, and our table soon became filled up with the Mezze of the Day. This was comprised of a chickpea salad, olives, hummus, halloumi, dolmades, falafels, and handmade flatbreads. We also had small plates of chickpea stew, and a chicken stew (which my non-vegetarian friend was more than happy to try!)
A mezze is my absolute favourite type of food so I was excited to taste it all, and I was also glad that I'd brought a friend with me, as the portions were very generous and there was no way I could have eaten it all on my own!
The salad was very fresh and tasty, and the falafels, flatbread and hummus really hit the spot! For me, the standout dish was the chickpea stew which had the most gorgeous combination of spices, with just the right amount of heat. At £6.95, the Mezze is a tasty bargain lunch for two.
By the time we'd finished eating, The Kitchen was beginning to fill up, and the atmosphere was buzzing, but relaxed (typical Bristol!) We ventured outside to The Yard which is a massive colourful courtyard, perfect for sunny days and big groups. The café is available to hire in the evenings and weekends for gatherings, fundraisers and community events (they're even hosting two weddings this year!)
Verdict: The Kitchen is a hidden gem in the heart of the city. Run by a friendly bunch of volunteers, the menu lives up to their promise of "great value, unfussy tasty food and drink." I love that they use as many local suppliers as they can, as well as organic ingredients where possible.
Next time you're passing by, pop in for a coffee and cake, or a great value lunch with the kids (check out the kids menu here). I guarantee you won't be disappointed!
And if you are looking for a cheap but quirky place to stay in the centre of Bristol, check out The Bristol Wing, a new boutique hostel adjacent to The Kitchen, housed in the old police headquarters, and also run by the YMCA.
Disclaimer: I was offered a free lunch by The Kitchen in return for an honest review. All thoughts and photos are my own.