Back in Bemmy


You don’t have to live right next door to call this place your local, writes James Howells

When discussing the neighbourhoods of Bristol, the topic of gentrification will most likely arise. Often subject to this discussion is the south-of-the-river ward, Bedminster. East Street was even featured in Vice Magazine in an article discussing gentrification, in October of last year. 

In my opinion, local businesses providing great services to ramp up their trade and get people into their area can only be a good thing.

A business that has been drawing a lot of attention for a few years now is The Old Bookshop, North Street. 

Since their opening in 2011, and take-over of the space next door in 2013, this pub, venue, cocktail bar and restaurant has consistently offered a great product and service without ever forgetting its roots.  Set about two thirds of the way down North Street, the unassuming structure is accented by the twinkles and shines of satisfied eyes through the windows. 

The interior is strewn with trinkets and knick-knacks, all guiding you towards the wonderfully tall bar. The steampunk myth-buster workshop feel to the smoking area is definitely a must-see. It is all very cosy. 

The food too reflects this, with inspirations taken from wherever they are seen, offering a few large comforting plates and then, more experimental yet equally welcoming, smaller plates. Breakfast and brunch in the form of fry-ups and kedgeree, as well as the aptly named Bemmys.

Lunch offers small plates at three for £12 or beef shin burgers and vegetable curries included in the larger plates. Dinner service runs from 5pm—9.30pm with some more contemporary dishes offered.

Ewes’ curds, fig and honey vinaigrette and crisp breads (£6) are pleasantly textured with sweet figs cutting through the cheese from local supplier Homeward Farm. The large spiced chicken wings with roast garlic yoghurt (£5) were great, perfect with booze, just like their homemade garlic bread (£3) and whitebait (£5). Oxtail nachos, homewood feta and pickled chilli (£5) are worth making the trip alone for. The oxtail is a whole new dimension of what a nacho dish is capable of, and the pickled chilli and feta works as a much more adult alternative to lashings of salsa and soured cream.

Contemporary twists on more well-known dishes such as jerk pork belly with slow cooked greens and sweet purée (£7), are perfectly executed in terms of seasoning and technicality. 

The portions are very generous and staff are massively friendly, making North Street’s The Old Bookshop a south-of-the-river treat not to be missed. 

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