Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Bridge Café @ The Avon Gorge Hotel, Bristol

Clifton Suspension Bridge (not taken from the Avon Gorge Hotel)

Having had a quick visit to Clifton Village back in December, I’d wanted to come back for a proper potter around the many independent shops for a while.  Having taken the day off for my birthday, it seemed like a great opportunity to visit. It was another beautiful frosty, sunny day in Clifton, although the bitter cold did mean that we didn’t spend quite as long wandering around as we may have done otherwise!  Clifton offers quite a few different tea and coffee shops, but, wanting something a bit special, we decided to walk a bit further up to the Bridge Café at the Avon Gorge Hotel, which offers beautiful views out over the Clifton Suspension Bridge. 

The entrance to the café is very understated and not very inspiring, but, once inside, the rooms are modern and classy. It was quiet, with only one other table occupied – possibly other people were put off by the cold, or it’s just not that known for afternoon tea. We sat on a table next to the windows, with great views, although a little chilly, which made us realise why the other table had chosen to sit back next to the open fire! There is a great outdoor space with lots of tables overlooking the fantastic views – this would be a fantastic place in the summer.

Latte and a slice of coffee and walnut cakeThe afternoon tea menu was a little disappointing – I think that for somewhere with such a great location, they could draw many more people in if the menu was more exciting. I get the feeling that the café is more set up for lunch, with afternoon tea offered as a bit of an after-thought. The afternoon tea they offered only included two types of cake – West Country apple cake and Drambuie fruit cake, which didn’t particularly tempt me.  The only other cake available was their daily special, which, on the day we visited, was coffee and walnut. As we were eating out that evening and the menu wasn’t particularly inspiring, we decided not to do the whole afternoon tea option: I opted for the coffee and walnut cake and EHH chose to have the West Country apple cake and the Drambuie fruit cake (which was an option on the menu – he wasn’t just being piggy!).  We both chose to have lattes rather than tea (I figured that tea and coffee cake would be a strange combination!).  My latte came (as it all lattes should!) in a proper latte glass and was delicious, although it could have been hotter. My coffee and walnut cake was moist and tasty – reminding me how much I do like this type of cake (I don’t often make them as EHH doesn’t like coffee cake). EHH enjoyed his fruit cake and apple cake – although both were fairly small portions. The West Country apple cake was quite unusual – it was very dense, more like a pudding than a cake, but did have a nice flavour. His cakes also came served with three small chocolate truffles, which was a nice touch – these were delicious: very rich and velvety.

The staff were very pleasant but the service was really rather slow – particularly considering there were so few people there. There was quite a long gap between my cake arriving and EHH’s arriving, to the point where we thought they had forgotten about his order.

Overall, I felt that this café was a little disappointing as it could be so much better – the location is amazing but the choice of cake was limited, the cakes were ok but not mind-blowing and the service wasn’t quite up to standard.  Although it would be lovely in the summer to sit outside, there are lots of other options for tea and cake in Clifton and I’m not that tempted to return to this one.  

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