Restaurant review | Suncraft – "vegan taste explosion"

BPL441 20 November 2019

Cold-pressed juices and Asian-inspired bowls at Suncraft on Gloucester Road

The restaurant with a happy yellow exterior and imaginative menus has received glowing reports from seemingly every Bristol foodie since it opened a year ago.

Co-owner James Koch and his team are also behind sister restaurant Gallimaufry, the well-loved Sunday roast destination and live music venue across the road. Suncraft was to be an ethically minded and plant-based alternative to the classic fast-food establishment – less of the plastic cheese and more of the recycled plastic yoghurt pot table tops. In fact there’s no cheese at all because the restaurant is wholly vegan; it joins the raft of Bristol vegan eateries like Cafe Kino and Flow who are eschewing meat and dairy for alternatives.

Inside are sustainable touches – reclaimed wood and reusable glass bottles and containers. There’s also an optional 20p to add to your bill in return for unlimited filtered still or sparkling water by Belu, the water bottle company who donate 100% of their profits to WaterAid.

I make our order at the bar and pick out a couple of juices from the fridge – apple, lime, spinach and pear, and orange, carrot and ginger. Made on-site and bottled in anonymous glass bottles ready for reuse, these concoctions are like electricity to the tastebuds. The green one is so fresh I feel like I’m drinking an apple whole, pips and all. Also on the menu are organic wines and south-west-brewed beers and ciders.

If you needed definitive proof that each dish is made fresh from scratch, you can find it to the left of the bar. Behold, the V-Farm: a vertical multi-shelved unit growing approximately 140 plants, including kale and Egyptian mint, giving chefs fresh herbs and leaves whenever they need them. This self-regulating hydroponic system is the exciting result of a collaboration with innovative urban farmer collective Grow Bristol.

When our kimchi and tofu fritters arrive they are soft and melty inside, excellently flavoured and made fiery by the spicy gochujang mayonnaise. The table is a kaleidoscope of colours with the brilliant orange and green of our juices, and our main bowls arrive to make up the rainbow. 

My cashew and courgette kofta (there’s a handy guide in the menu explaining all the foody terms) comes with arabic salad, mint and sumac dressing, and a slow-cooked tomato sauce. I know there’s not a scrap of animal product to be found here but I have to remind myself it’s not lamb – the kofta is meaty and comforting, and the little squares of cucumber and raw tomato halves
sweet in comparison. It’s a hot pot of rich, nutty goodness.

My dining companion’s Pad Thai is delicately flavoured with a bit of a kick and the opposite culinary pole to my dish. Chilled and light, it shows Suncraft to be a restaurant of many talents, with something for every stomach and mood. 

The dark chocolate and mint ganache is a tasty morsel and a perfect finish. Topped with cinnamon crumble and glazed orange, it has a Christmas sensibility.

Caitlin Bowring

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39 Gloucester Rd, Bristol BS7 8AD / 0117 450 9600 / www.suncraft.co.uk

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