When we moved to Portishead 9 years ago, our options for eating out locally diminished dramatically overnight. We went from stepping out onto Bristol Harbourside, lined with numerous interesting and trendy eateries, to a small town offering a couple of Indian restaurants, one Thai, an Italian and a few pubs. For the amount of times we ventured out with a breast-feeding one year old, the options here were adequate and if we wanted variety we headed back into Bristol or occasionally out to Clevedon or Weston-super-Mare. But in recent years Portishead has experienced rapid growth and a number of hostelries have sprung up to meet the demand. When Hall and Woodhouse arrived on the Marina, they filled the gap for a large, buzzing waterside bar, selling their own famous ales. Impero Lounge has livened up the High Street and just last week the Mezze at The White Lion launched after a huge refurbishment of a previously empty pub, creating an impressive sight on the drive into Portishead. We went to a launch event at the Mezze (thank you for that Mezze) but I haven’t eaten from their menu yet, although I’m hearing good things about their food and hope to be able to include them in a future roundup.
Here are some of our favourite places to eat, both new and established.
Earlier this year at the launch of the Lounge, we were treated to a variety of tapas. A very efficient staff served us sufficiently tasty samples to persuade me that I’d like to return. They seem to have a lot of things right. This feels like a happening place with a good social media buzz. When I’m trying to be grown up and business like, I’m not alone in using the Impero as an impromptu ‘office’. According to my friends I can be a teeny bit fussy about coffee (who me? really?) and I haven’t had anything less than a perfect cup there so far – no pressure guys! They’re also very family friendly and have a great little section of children’s games suitable for a variety of ages.
It’s in the precinct and the door opens straight into the restaurant so not exactly an intimate atmosphere, but my husband and I always enjoy our food along with an authentic Singha beer. (We tried sharing a bottle of wine once but it was just wrong). Their Tamarind Duck is my absolutely favourite dish. I am so impressed every time I eat it that I even bought some tamarind to try to produce something similar at home. #fail. Think I’ll leave it to the experts. It’s also reasonably priced and it’s making me hungry just thinking about it so let’s move on.
Antonios Trattoria Pizzeria
Practically Perfect Dad has a bit of a soft spot for pizzas and his vote was for Antonios in the High St. This is a small, cozy, Italian restaurant run by actual Italian people. Their pizzas are good, their portions are generous and after a glass of vino I’ve even been persuaded to try out my very rusty Italian on the friendly staff. They’re child friendly and offer an authentic retro dining experience. If you like good Italian food lit by a candle in a chianti bottle, you’ll love Antonio’s
With a fabulous location overlooking the Bristol Channel, the Windmill is one of those places which really comes into it’s own in fine weather. They serve good quality pub food and always have a specials board. Adults can enjoy a meal or drink and the stunning views in peace in the smart upper dining area, while downstairs the family room caters for – well – families!
Our children love it here as the direct access to the terraced area means they can play around outside, whatever the weather (yes they spent ages out there when we had a snow day this year!) and generally get up to a just acceptable level of mischief with other kids, slightly out of the reach of their parents.
Bottelinos offers reasonably priced Italian food in a stunning location overlooking the marina. The venue is large enough to host parties (they managed to accommodate the Chamber of Commerce for one of their breakfast meetings) and has been extended to include a sheltered outside dining area too. A firm favourite with our children and their earlybird specials can make it an absolute bargain for family dining.
The Royal Inn
We’ve had some great evening meals at The Royal. It’s a fascinating spot for watching shipping activity as it overlooks Portbury Docks and the Severn Bridge.
It has the added attraction that the pub grounds also lead straight down to a little beach and our children don’t waste any time climbing up the rocks. Have they no fear?!
We haven’t eaten here for a while because by the time we get to Friday night, we’re quite lazy and often grab a takeaway when we want a curry, but if we do head out, we choose the Ghandi on the High Street. We’ve always had good food and good service. We’ve become creatures of habit though and tend to opt for the rather hot king prawn or chicken tikka pathia. I warn you though that this has quite a kick and is NOT for the faint hearted!
As you approach Portishead from the motorway you pass this pub, which we all know as ‘Brewsters’. This is another one of the children’s favourites partly due to the generous buffet style meals but largely due to the large indoor play area.
There’s also a decent sized garden with a modern climbing frame.
We have come here with the extended family for a number of familly celebrations. We usually have the breakfast buffet and when the children really can’t manage another piece of bacon/yoghurt/croissant/glass of juice, they head off down to the play area to burn off some steam. This is classic, very good value pub food, and as parents of three little boys, we find we enjoy the experience because it’s informal and child friendly.
We have become rather provincial since having children but we do occasionally actually leave Portishead when we find somewhere really worthwhile to eat.
Heading out of Portishead and over the Suspension Bridge there’s a small restaurant in Clifton Village called Fishers. We are big fans of fish in our family and Fishers offers an interesting range of dishes. Four year old Zu thoroughly approved when he joined Mummy and Daddy for a meal and enthusiastically sampled four different fish dishes (hey that’s mine!) – although he did draw the line at mussels!
I have not enjoyed my limited experience of sushi, but Yo-Ji in Weston-super-Mare taught me not to write off Japenese food! We went for the Teppanyaki Grill, theatrically cooked and served before your eyes by Yo-Ji’s chefs and I have to say it ranks right up there with my absolutely favourite meals out.
So there we have it – 10 of our favourite local places to eat – chosen for a variety of reasons including their location & atmosphere, their food & drink, their value for money and their customer service.
This roundup is based on our personal experiences and I’m sure other people will have had different experiences. What is your favourite place to eat in Portishead?
I’ve written this article as part of the brand new Social Fabric Restaurant blog hop.