In the heart of Southville is one of Bristol’s best loved theatre spaces. It comprises of an industrial looking restaurant and bar, theatres, performance areas, art galleries and even a Sunday market. My recent visit was to see the brilliant Richard Herring for his latest, rehashed hilarious tour called Talking Cock.
The cafe-come-restaurant-come-bar is lively and open-planed with plenty of good choices for vegetarians. Options included wild mushroom and brie tart, risotto, a large selection of salads and sandwiches as well as smaller plates. However, I am a complete sucker for mezzes and opted for this. To me, there are three types of mezze plates – authentically platters that are found in the backstreet cafes around Dalston (…and presumably the Middle East!); UK gastro-style versions of these; and bastardised versions of neither. This platter fell into the second category, and while it wasn’t traditional, it was a lovely mixed collection of Mediterranean delights. The hummus was obviously homemade, the bread was fresh and seeded and the vine leaves weren’t covered in oil. The cheese tasted how ripe, nutty manchego should and went well with the glass of Tree Choirs English white wine which helped wash it down.
The building itself is an interesting structure and is one of the surviving buildings from the original Imperial Tobacco site. Apparently it was saved from demolition by architect George Ferguson. Part of the charm, which I think reflects an overall character of Bristolian mentality, is the value and importance that in placed on independent local business. Since only local independent businesses are allowed to trade from the factory, Ferguson, has captured the essence of the local neighbourhood such as North Street which is a high street of well-used, self-governed shops and cafes.
The Tobacco factory is well worth a visit for its food alone, but it would be a shame to not see some of the great performances they have on offer. With a packed schedule of theatre, art, comedy, dance and music, there is something for everyone. I’ve also heard they’re having a bit of a refurbish at the moment and will be installing more comfy seats into the theatre area which is always nice to hear!
The Tobacco Factory
Tel: 0117 902 0060