i like to bake. cakes and pies and biscuits and bread. sometimes i make lemon curd and sticky jam and put it in pretty little jars. i sell it all at markets. and then i write about it here.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

the urban wood

Yesterday I got an unexpected visit from my family. At the end of a tough week some home comfort was just the therapy I needed. After a quick catch-up over coffee we chose to head out of the madness that is Saturday afternoon at Cabot Circus and took a stroll up the Christmas Steps. What I like about having visitors in my home town of Bristol is that it forces me away from my usual haunts, into lesser-frequented parts of town. And so it was that we ended up browsing the shops that line Colston Street. Home to two of Bristol's best secondhand bookshops and, it would seem, one of the city's best independent eateries. Feeling the tug of lunchtime hunger, The Urban Wood was our chosen venue to fulfil our foodie desires. The decor of this long and narrow setting might best be described as dark and menacing meets cheerful kitsch (large deer antlers loom over pretty fuschia flower heads popping out of jam jars), whilst the mismatched furniture ensures that the overall feel is one of comfort and relaxation rather than pretentiousness of any kind. Decor aside, service at The Urban Wood was also very impressive. The staff have achieved that rare balance of good service; nowhere near standoffish yet certainly not overbearingly keen.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves, we hadn't even sampled the food yet. The menu was promising and, on further inspection, they use only locally sourced ingredients. I chose a jacket potato with mozarella, cherry tomatoes and rocket. My fellow diners chose a blue cheese and fig salad, a pea and mint risotto and the 'Urban Wood burger'; an ambitious affair layered with a fried egg, cheese and bacon, and served with chips. The food was simple and no-fuss; attractive, satisfying and full of flavour. My potato had a skin that was thick and crisp; a sign of a jacket which has spent some time in a hot oven as opposed to a short spin in a microwave. This is a place where the chips are homemade and the chef cares more about flavours and ingredients than creating a work of food art. With dishes costing an average of seven pounds each, The Urban Wood won't even break the bank.
This place beats hands-down any of the dull, spiritless chain restaurants that are peppering our high streets. I would definitely pay The Urban Wood another visit, preferably in the evening, when the lights go down and the candles are lit.