Al Fresco dining in Bristol

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Want to make the most of the heatwave? Food Editor Jane Cowie gives us the low-down on some of Bristol's best outdoor dining spots to let you make the most of the English summer...

The heatwave has arrived. The temperature has soared to the dazzling heights of 23 degrees and the whole of England has got their kit off, only to reveal their pasty skin (which in just one day will be a fluorescent shade of red) and their insatiable desire to get some tinnies and lie in the park with friends. Oh yes, it really feels that summer has begun.

Many of us have not been able to make the most of it. We have been reluctantly dragging ourselves in to the stuffy, overcrowded library to, miserably, try to get somewhere with our final assessments of the year. We sit, resentfully looking at the beautiful summer sunshine out the window, aching to go outside and enjoy it.

Considering how infrequently we get the sun, I urge you to make the most of it. Yes, go to the library and smash out some work, but make sure you take yourself to the great outdoors. It really will give you the burst of life you need.

For me, there is nothing better than eating outside, with a g&t in hand, soaking up those glorious rays. That’s why I have compiled a list of some of the best al fresco cafes in Bristol, where you can enjoy good food, refreshing drinks and some well-earned (and needed) vitamin D.

Whether it be for a library break midday, where you can grab a quick bite to eat, or somewhere to go early evening, catching the final rays of the day, I hope I have provided you with some inspiration for where to go in this sensational weather:

Bambalan

If you journey down towards city centre, right by Colston Tower, a mere 10-minute walk from university, you will stumble upon Bambalan. Bambalan opened in May 2016 and is undeniably one of the most beautiful al fresco dining places you will find in the city. Kitted out with a rooftop terrace looking over the centre, and numerous ping pong tables, Bamabalan exudes a chilled out, relaxing atmosphere.

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They have an all-day dining menu, with a variety of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern foods, all freshly prepared daily, and are cooked in their wood fired oven, charcoal robata grill or charcoal rotisserie for additional flavour. They won the ‘Best Mediterranean’ in the 2018 Bristol Good Food Awards, and for good reason.

I recommend opting for a cocktail (make the most of happy hour), and get a variety of tapas dishes so you can chop and change, having a taste of it all: from lamb koftas to crunch falafel balls!

Deals you should know about:
• Happy Hour runs Monday to Saturday 4-9pm, allowing you to get 2 cocktails for only £10.
• Students get 10% off their food bill when they show their NUS card.
• A chicken or falafel bab is just £6 (Monday – Friday 12 – 2).

Folk House

Located at the bottom of Park Street, the Folk House boasts a quaint courtyard that is perfect for catching the sun midday. Not only do they provide a wealth of artistic courses, from painting to pottery to languages, but they also have a café that offers local, organic, sustainable and delicious food.

There is always an option for a soup dish which is less than £5, however if you want to go for something a little more substantial, there is a choice of quiches and tarts that are served with salad and slaw for a reasonable £7.50. What is more, they’ve got you covered if you are a vegetarian or vegan, constantly reviving their choices for these.

Whether you are after a quick pint, a nutritious wholesome soup, or a moist, homemade cupcake, the Folk House will be able to provide, and you can rest assured all the ingredients are ethical and sustainable. This little, hidden gem allows you to get away from the overly busy feel of Bristol, allowing you to sit back and relax in a charming, picturesque garden.

The White Rabbit

The White Rabbit is another more recent addition to the Bristol culinary scene, opening in May 2016 with its incredibly successful ‘Opening Pizza Party’ which saw 1500 people flocking. Apparently, people love pizza.

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Epigram / Sarah Roller

Tucked behind the Students Union Building, the local haunt for all the student living in Clifton. The White Rabbit has become known as the place (alongside Bosco) to get your pizzas. However, unlike Bosco, it offers a stupendously good deal: 2 for 1 pizzas on Monday and Tuesday.

The interior is a suitable balance between comfortable and upbeat. On the left of the building you can sit on the plush red sofas next to a warming fireplace, whilst on the right of the building there is live music, television screens (with sky sports) and ping pong tables to keep to entertaining when the gust outside picks up.

The best bit, without a doubt, is the beer garden/ rooftop terrace. Allowing you to peer over the sights of Clifton, on long tables which can fit a large group, this is the place to go after your study session in the SU. Here, enjoy the amazing variety of local beers and ciders (they are keen supporters of local breweries), and their delectable stone baked pizzas which range from £6.50 (your modest Margherita) to £11.45 (if you are a salami and Parma ham lover).

Boston Tea Party

It almost goes without saying, however if you are yet to try the hidden tiered garden at the back of BTP’s flagship café on Park Street, wait no longer. Now is the time.

BTP offers a selection of alcoholic drinks (so you can grab a craft beer if your studies are a real struggle), fresh juices, milkshakes, smoothies and coffees – allowing you to pick and choose as per your heart’s desire. One thing is consistent, though. They’ll do it well.

For the sake of not repeating myself, I’ll just let you know a few of their new additions to the menu:
• Pork Belly Grain Bowl (inspired by the Aussie brunch)
• Smoked Mackerel Grain Bowl
• Cheddar & Jalapeno Cornbread with a fried egg, smashed avo, salsa, yoghurt and tabasco maple syrup
• Smashed Avocado on Sourdough with poached eggs, chipotle and chilli
• Rye Bread Porridge with sultanas, caramelised apple compote and cinnamon

One word of warning: BTP is a top spot, however it certainly is no secret. This place gets very packed, very quickly. If you end up not getting a seat in the outdoor garden, no worries. Just ask for a take away cup, and walk 5 minutes around the corner where you will find yourself in the beautiful Brandon Hill Park. Win win.

Featured image credit: Epigram / Sarah Roller

Missed out your favourite al fresco spot? Let us know!

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