Ah Bristol. How I heart thee! With your chilled out enclaves, buzzy graffiti, hilly inclines and just enough edge to keep everything interesting. I could really live here one day, it’s such a wonderful city. On a recent visit I noticed literally tonnes of groovy looking independent cafes around the Gloucester Road and Stokes Croft areas and hardly a chain in site. So very refreshing, as most cities in the UK have a tendency to look identical these days with their never-ending bland-outs involving Starbucks, Costa, Mac D’s et al. I often wonder, if I was to be parachuted out of a plane and not told in which city centre I was landing, whether I’d actually know where I was because all the shops look THE SAME almost EVERYWHERE!
I am not against all chains per se, it’s just the blandness of most of them that is so bloody soul-destroying. Urgh. Anyway, enough ranting. I wanted to tell you about a mini-chain of super-cool Indian cafes in Bristol called the Thali Cafe, which happen to be the complete opposite of bland. We ate lunch at the Montpelier branch, one of four, and everything was absolutely wonderful. We arrived, harrassed and starving with a squawking toddler in tow, and were made to feel welcome immediately. We entered a beautiful universe of sumptuous Indian-style decor- all hot pinks, vintage movie posters and twinkling mirrors – and smelt beautiful spices wafting out of the kitchen. Our waitress beamed at us and our demanding toddler and rushed over glasses of spicy chai to warm us up. She didn’t bat an eyelid as our daughter started to shout and throw things all over the floor. A high chair was produced within seconds, and then we could all relax.
The food was really, really good. Light, aromatic and zingy, popping with spice and freshness. We ate every last grain of rice, and drank about 143 cups of amazing chai. I wish this place was on our doorstep.*
Behold – Masala Fish Fry (fillets of white fish, fried in
masala batter served with mango, chilli and lime chutney):
Mogul Chicken Curry (slow cooked chicken, tomato and coconut curry):
Beautiful space – all that wonderful warm colour:
Lovely things everywhere:
12 York Road
Bristol BS6 5QE
t: 0117 942 6687
*Even if you don’t live anywhere near Bristol, you might catch the Thali Cafe at various music festivals over the summer, such as The Green Man Festival