Posted 10th February 2014
With a baby on the way and a house move on the horizon in the weeks ahead, I’ve been busy exploring my new locality, Stokes Croft and Cotham.
Saturday afternoon seemed like the perfect opportunity to embrace Stokes Croft’s marvellous cafe culture and discover some untried places. We opted for The Arts House, a fully licensed artistic hub and cafe serving coffees, cakes and snacks all day.
The cafe itself is beautiful. Photographs from local artists adorned the walls, large, ornate lampshades hanging from the high ceilings and furnished with a mismatch of sofas, benches, tables, chairs and cushion – perfect for those in search of an intimate catch up with friends or those looking to indulge in some much needed “me” time.
I liked how quiet and relaxed the cafe felt. It was busy, but not chaotic. A mix of people surfing on laptops, eating and drinking. A wonderfully chilled out vibe.
Food and drinks are ordered from the blackboard behind the bar. Ingredients are locally sourced and the menu includes beers and ciders and wine as well as teas coffees and soft drinks.
Food was really reasonably priced with toasties from £3.50 and paninis from £4.50 – even better you could add a drink for £1 – a bargain of a lunch!
Sam went for a west country classic, mature cheddar and ham toastie, I ordered a grilled aubergine & pesto panini with rocket.
I was also very tempted by the sharing platters available from as little as £7.50 charcuterie, mezze and a cheese board. The perfect nibbles to accompany a glass of wine or beer in the evening.
The service was friendly, if a little muddled. The chap behind the counter was extremely polite however we noticed him bringing teas and coffees to the wrong tables at least three or four times whilst we were sat there.
That said, our drinks and food didn’t take long at all to arrive, and whilst our waiter may have struggled to recall the faces of who ordered what, nobody minded – after all, he was very friendly, and he was on his own on a busy Saturday afternoon (perhaps I’m mean to mention it.)
The food was simple, but really tasty. Perfect for the afternoons when you simply can’t be bothered with the faff of somewhere more formal and crave good honest cafe fare. Sam was pleased with his toastie, reporting back that the cheese had lots of flavour. Whilst he was concerned at first about the melti-ness he quite quickly decided that the fact that the cheese was soft without being gooey gave his sandwich a good texture.
I loved my panini. Nice tasting aubergine, lots of pesto, a generous helping of leaves. It wasn’t fancy but boy it was good.
After finishing our sandwiches we tucked into a generous slice of victoria sponge which we both agreed was light and very enjoyable.
There’s something almost shy about this quaint little cafe. It’s modest and unfussy but just felt so relaxing and comforting at the same time. I imagine that The Arts House is just as lovely in the evening and makes a great place for a quiet drink. The basement space is also used as a performance space for local musicians and a cinema space so well worth checking out.
Verdict: A locally sourced menu of simple-but-effective food served in an oasis of calm and creativity in the midst of the city.
(They say a picture says a thousand words so hopefully the YouTube video below from The Arts House website gives you an idea of what a wonderful little place this is.)