Sunday, 6 January 2013

Bristol - A Vegan Mecca

A sad family event had necessitated a trip over the Cornish border and all the way up to Lancashire.  We used to make quite frequent long trips around the country  but what with the nature of this particular visit and with the hustle and bustle of Christmas only just over, this journey felt like a very long one.  On the homeward bound trip and with only 3 of the 6 hours journey time under our belts we gave in and decided to haul into one of our favourite distractions; Bristol.  We both felt in need of some TLC (Tasty Vegan Comestibles), somewhere cosy to lie our heads and a great deal of cheering up.  Luckily we knew where to find all three.
We checked in to a cosy, quiet room in a lodge within the wooded outskirts west of Bristol and before we managed to get too comfortable, we took the 10 minute drive over the Clifton Suspension Bridge into town.  We knew exactly where we were heading; Krishna's Inn.

Krishnas Masala Dosa

There are many great eating places in Bristol for vegans but this is definitely one of our favourites.  Although Krishna's is not exclusively a vegetarian establishment, they understand fully the needs and requirements of veggies and vegans.  There seemed to be a lack of front of house staff this evening but despite this, the atmosphere was relaxed and the food arrived swiftly once our order was taken.  It was a no-brainer what I was going to order.  It had to be a Masala Dosa.  This warming, mildly spicy 'pancake' was exactly what I needed and, as it isn't a commonly available dish in Indian restaurants, I simply couldn't miss the opportunity.  Phil hedged his bets knowing that there may be the chance of a portion of my huge dosa  available to him and opted for some of his favourites including the Vegetable Malabar (fresh vegetables cooked with spices, tomatoes, fresh coconut milk & curry leaves) and the Erussery (yellow pumpkin cooked with black eye beans & garnished with fresh coconut slices). I was happy to trade for a portion of both of these.  So with bellies full we headed back to the car with the added delight of seeing one of Bristol's many urban foxes trot up the pavement, stop and check us out and then unhurriedly continue its nightly rounds. 
The next morning was lazy.  We were still wiped out so cups of tea in bed were in order until our bellies and the check out time of 11am forced us into the chilly outside world.  It was brunch time and again, we knew exactly where to head; Cafe Kino.
Cafe Kino is a not-for-profit co-operative owned and operated by its workers, and run in part by volunteers.  All of their food is vegan but they don't shout about it.  They just get on with providing good quality, healthy, filling, great value for money food in a relaxed, no nonsense atmosphere.  Again, it was just what we needed.  We like Bristol for its vegan food opportunities but we also like it because it is so full of like-minded, positive communities who care.  Cafe Kino epitomises and concentrates such people all in one big vegan hug.  It's the kind of place that I will happily put money in the tip pot before we have even ordered.  The fact that they moved from their original tiny premises just across the road to this bigger one on Stokes Crofts must mean that many people agree that Cafe Kino is the place to go.
We wanted cake too but after the ample-portioned burgers we enjoyed, we simply couldn't fit it in.  It was time to walk it off so we explored the unique area that is Cheltenham/Gloucester Road.  This area prides itself on 'keeping it local' which much of the surrounding urban art work carrying this message.  Since our last visit we were sad to see a few of the 'big names' had crept in but on the whole, the individual local shops, charity shops and restaurants were still holding their own. 
Soon however it was time to move on.  We explored a few of the independent health food stores and a few more charity shops around the Cotham area before leaving the 'big smoke' and heading back to the 'little smoke' of our open fire back home.  Bristol is a buzz that we love to dip in to but there is no such place as home when it comes to our own backyard.  We would never trade the long expanses of beach and sand dunes but the down side is that we do miss out on the alternative vibe down here in Cornwall.  I guess it is just a case of ' you can't have your Cafe Kino cake and eat it'!
Thank you Bristol for being there when we needed you.

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