Bristol: The Primrose Cafe

February 3, 2011

1 Clifton Arcade, Boyces Avenue, Clifton, Bristol

I feel it’s only fitting that my very first post be the one I originally wrote in October 2010 about the Primrose Cafe. Many happy and relaxing hours I spent in that cafe during my time in Bristol, whether it was a sunday brunch with the girls, or a solitary latte with my economics essay. I visited this place far more times than I’ll write about it; this entry is a copy of the review (written 27th October 2010) I wrote in my facebook note last year; it’s so good I don’t really want to change it.

The soon-to-be perennial favourite

I knew I was in for something good when during week 2 I tried a hot chocolate here and it was piled high with mashmallows and real chocolate. Also the fact that every time of every day of the week the cafe is packed with locals. So a few Sunday’s ago when K and I went out in the morning to do our food shopping (we’re so domestic on the 4th floor it’s ridiculous. Example:

Ha: Oooh, Ch, that looks nice! Soup, hey?
Ch: Yep.
S: oh oh, I’m making soup too!! How exciting that we’re both having soup for tea!!!!
Ha: So, what have you put in it?
Ch: uh, pumpkin, courgettes, potatoes, carrots, parsnip
Ha: mmm, I may try that next week, I’ve got a whole lot of carrots that will go off otherwise. Of course tonight I’m having fishcakes with carrot mash.
K: use E’s masher, it’s the best.
Ha: ok, will do.
S: carrot mash? Not potatoes?
Me: ew potatoes…
Ca: Why don’t you put some cumin and cinnamon in there, Ch? And maybe some chili?
Ch: Yes, I was thinking of that. I may do that, actually.
Ca: did anyone see the special Waitrose was having on aubergines today? One for 40p, I was really upset I didn’t end up buying one.
Me: Oooh, I love eggplant! E, what are you having?
E: Pasta, in my pasta machine.
Me: …standard.
E: you’d be proud of me Natalie, I even made my own sauce, from SCRATCH.
Me: *raises eyebrows*
B: can you microwave ALL plastic containers? Or does it have to be a special plastic?
A: Does anyone have any mustard I can borrow?
K: I’ve got pesto….?
A: uh…no, thanks.
Am: My grandma makes pesto icecubes sometimes…
And so it goes on in this fashion from about 5:30-7:30 every evening. But anyway, K and I stopped for a latte (for me) and a can of coke (for her) at the Primrose cafe, located oh so conveniently across the lane from Reg the Veg. And oh sweet lordy it was delicious! Good froth with the bitter taste of crema, and a silky, well-bodied blend that was warmed to just the right temperature. It was so good in fact that I went back the very next day! I can already tell that this is the beginning of a long and wonderful friendship.
Oh yes….
I was right, as it turned out. I went back at least once every week for the rest of my time in Bristol. Sometimes with friends, sometimes alone, and often with my economics textbooks. When it wasn’t super cold I’d sit outside with a blanket and warm myself with a coffee, but often I’d sit upstairs, where it was warm and toasty and filled with light, the gentle hum of people’s voices from downstairs just enough background noise for effective study.

While in Bristol I had Sunday brunch at the Primrose quite a few times, I suppose as a substitute for sunday brunches back home, which I love. I had the chance to sample a few of the things on their sunday brunch menu (which is special and different from their normal breakfast menu), all of which were delicious, in particular the Belgian waffles with berries and greek yoghurt. But anyway, this particular day, the 23rd January 2011, I went with E for my last Sunday Brunch in Bristol. The place was comfortably busy, and as I read the giant, messy blackboard of a menu, I knew it was only appropriate that I get my perennial favourite breakfast dish from my perennial favourite Bristol cafe: Eggs Florentine.


Normally I think Eggs Florentine are poached eggs with spinach and hollandaise sauce, but at the Primrose they include smoked salmon as well, which is lovely because normally when I get poached eggs with salmon back home I ask for spinach as well. But anyway, basically my breakfast consisted of two english muffins (in england they’re just called “muffins”), smoked salmon, lots of spinach, two poached eggs and hollandaise with chives.
The hollandaise was smooth and lemony, just as I like it, and the spinach was lovely. I am disappointed to report, however, that the eggs were overcooked, and the yolks weren’t runny at all (horror of horrors). But it turned out that just the first egg was overcooked (??), the second was perfect, and all the other times I’ve had eggs here they’ve been well cooked. So I’m not forming a negative opinion on breakfasts here, this was just an anomaly. Overall delicious and filling, a perfect start to a day’s studying.


E decided to get the Primose Bacon Butty, but I feel its photo doesn’t really do it justice, it makes it look sort of dry and empty (but then I didn’t eat it so I can’t really say). E said it was good, but with a small smile added that she generally prefers the greasy Joe’s kind of bacon shoved into a soft bread roll, which I totally understand. Also she said it was hard to eat, because the toast was so thickly cut and it all sort of crumbled when you took a bite. But it did smell delicious, and it did have both bacon and pancetta, so really, you can’t make a bacon butty more exotic than this (though having had a chip butty with E over New Years I can attest to the “greasy Joe’s” kind)!

And of course I ordered a latte, delicious and warming as usual. I think what I like most about coffees at the Primrose is that they don’t do take away, so I have to sit down and take 15 minutes to enjoy it. I love being able to hold the round coffee cup in my hands and people watch over the brim of my latte. Plus the staff always give me a smile and I love looking at the display of home-made cakes and slices in the glass cupboard below, even if I don’t order any. The Primrose Cafe is a real jem, and anyone in Bristol should make the effort to cross Clifton Village and have a lunch, or sunday brunch, or even just a coffee here. Definitely one of the things I’ll miss the most about Bristol.


Filed under: Coffee, United Kingdom