Spicer and Cole on Princess Victoria Street is doing cafe culture right
There is no doubt that Bristol’s independent food industry is bursting at the seams – with several cafes on every corner, you’d think the market was saturated, and yet the people still can’t get enough.
Each one of Spicer and Cole’s four cafes are permanently busy, whether it be breakfast, lunch or weekend brunch.
Inside it’s stripped wood tables and bare brick walls, and a counter positively overflowing with sandwiches, toasties and cakes. This display and the blackboard menu behind tell you all you need to know – sandwich fillings include Wiltshire ham, pickles, halloumi, hummus, buffalo mozzarella, sweet potato and salad, whilst for breakfast you can order a full english, a spicy sweet potato hash, porridge with seasonal fruit compote or a filled sourdough bap.
There’s a new soup for every day, and the abundant cake options come and go, with the kitchen constantly testing out new recipes.
We put in an order for a couple of coffees and head to the cosy back area to tuck into a late lunch. The prawn sandwich on soft white bread packs a punch without being mayonnaise-heavy and the frittata is delicious, served with the type of salad that makes you glad for their existence – it’s fresh, juicy and varied.
Coffee comes from Extract Coffee Roasters, the Bristol single-origin roastery in St Werburghs sourcing its beans with ethical practices, and is pleasantly nutty and comforting to drink.
Wanting to round things off with a cake, I look for the most interesting sounding one on offer and plump for a lime, lavender and courgette cake whose baker was a touch too generous with the icing, but is otherwise lovely.
Spicer and Cole has managed to nail the hygge feeling with its cosy interior and emphasis on homemade produce; somehow combining the essence of a chic French cafe with the warmth and busyness of a British pub. People literally flock here at weekends for brunches, staying as long as they can to chat and drink with friends.
It’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when cafe culture wasn’t so integral for us – coffee didn’t arrive here in Britain until the 1600s but by the 17th and 18th centuries, London coffeehouses were crucial establishments where the elite would debate politics and pick up gossip. Following the coffeehouse demise, tea took over until the likes of Starbucks and Costa reignited our love for coffee towards the end of the 20th century.
Cafes today represent so much more than a place to recaffeinate and refuel – like ye olde coffeehouses, they are where we gather to swap stories and see people.
In these uncertain times, there’s things we can do to help establishments like Spicer and Cole ticking over in spite of – buy their KeepCup or bring your own to takeaway your cappuccino in, and take the opportunity to go for a solo wander in one of Bristol’s many open park areas.