The sixth bumper edition of film festival Cinema Rediscovered takes place from 20 to 24 July. This year’s event will celebrate the big screen experience with a line-up of movie magic, from new restorations to cinematic curiosities.

But where do the film buffs coordinating the festival like to eat during their downtime? Here’s a taste of co-curator James Harrison’s regular foodie pitstops.

James Harrison from Cinema Rediscovered

The Architect Café Bar

The newest edition to the list of regular haunts for the South West Silents and Cinema Rediscovered teams. Opened in August 2021 at Design West and situated in a restored 18th-century sail loft on Bristol’s historic Harbourside. There are two great aspects to The Architect. One is the interior; a very comfortable 1930s art deco look which is infused with black and gold throughout with the loft’s original wooden beam features still intact. It’s a space perfect for everything whether it’s catch up with mates, doing a little bit of work on the laptop or even to play some chess (something I saw recently during a Sunday afternoon).

The second great aspect is the exterior, as, on sunny days at least, you can sit on their terrace and watch the bustle of Bristol harbour while drinking a great selection of wine, or, if it’s too early for that, a coffee. Actually there is a third I guess, their drink selection is just superb. So pull up a chair and order yourself a glass (or a bottle) – you won’t be disappointed.

Barman serving customer at The Architect bar, Design West
Image - The Architect at Design West, credit Chris Cooper

Street Food Market, St Nicholas Market

Whenever I’m near St Nick’s Market I always try and stop at Beware Of The Leopard Books and the journey to that great second-hand book shop would usually include walking through the street food market. There is so much great food offered here I just can’t include everything but I will highlight some of my favourites.

Cafe Atlas is just wonderful to sit in and watch the world go by; so it’s an added bonus that the food served there is delicious as well and I highly recommend the fried white fish salad, the Moroccan chicken and the grilled halloumi.

Opposite the Atlas and the Moorish Café (which is worth visiting also) is La Lola St Nick’s which serves a tasty selection of Mediterranean food and everything on the menu is worth trying out, particularly their baby squid as well as both their ham and spinach/stilton croquettes. Low and Slow Barbecue is another favourite of mine and judging from the large queues which are always there I’m guessing I’m not the only one who loves their Barbecue Boxes. And of course, there is Pieminister as well!

Like I said, these are just my favourites at the moment so do make a visit and find your own faves.

Mother Earth from Pieminister
Image - Pieminister

Piazza Di Roma, Blackboy Hill

Owned by Sicilian father and son Gennaro and Yas Baccala I’ve been going to this fantastic small and intimate spot since 2007 and have never had a bad meal… ever!

Alas, since the pandemic, the tables have gone and the brothers have kept the restaurant open as a takeaway only, but please, don’t let this put you off. The food is still as fresh and incredible as it would’ve been if you were sitting there to eat. Fingers crossed that it won’t be too long until the tables are back, but I know a lot of people who order their food, buy a bottle of wine (or two) and eat on The Downs when the weather is sunny. A great idea. But honestly, it’s talking about the food which is the most important thing here and even thinking about their menu as I type this is making me hungry.

Their passion and the attention to detail of every aspect of their food really does show and it all tastes great. I mean, on a number of occasions I’ve tried to find out what makes up their house tomato sauce… and like all good chefs they keep their secret to themselves. Their pasta dishes are mouth-watering, especially their penne salmone e vodka which is just a masterpiece of taste, while the likes of their penne Sicilliana and tortellini pizziola are just spectacular. But if you’re peckish before your main course I strongly recommend their mini arancini balls, a key Sicilian dish and they are just wonderful. As for their pizzas; well, it’s pure pizza perfection when it comes to these brothers. The very best of Italian cooking in the city, hands down!

Caribbean Croft, Stokes Croft

It was an old family friend who said I should check out Caribbean Croft a year or so ago and I’m so glad I went. Stepping through the door you’re hit by a vast wall of fantastic aromas from all those herb and spices connected to classic Caribbean cooking. It always forces me to stick my head over the open kitchen wall to see what was cooking at that moment, usually getting the odd look from whoever is cooking over the pans at that point.

I highly recommend the red mullet salad as a starter with the curried goat (with rice and peas of course) for your main! The goat particularly is one of my favourites now, it is so deep with flavour. I hear their cocktails are excellent as well. Top tip though, always book your table in advance on any day of the week as it does get incredibly busy all the time… that’s how great the food is!

Caribbean Croft
Image - Caribbean Croft

The Victoria Pub, Clifton

This Dawkins pub (one of five in Bristol) is the birthplace of South West Silents and still very much a key place for all of us to discuss future programming over a couple of pints.

I first started going to the Vic over ten or twelve years ago when Paul and Dee Tanner ran the pub (who now run another great Dawkins pub, The Portcullis in Clifton Village) and now the tenure has moved to Steve ‘Deacs’ Deacon. Deacs is everything you want from a landlord, you can talk to him about everything under the sun, football (which I hardly ever talk to him about), film (which I do talk to him quite a bit about) and of course, beer. He can be a bit grumpy on occasions, but that’s another key aspect of a real landlord, to keep you down to earth. And I always find that the best landlords aren’t about customer service, it’s all about serving the best pint possible on a daily basis, and Deacs is successful on this front every time.

Find yourself a spot in this intimate pub enjoy the beer and get involved with the local banter which always takes place in this little gem. After all, this is what you want from a real pub and (with thanks to the great beer and the grumpy landlord) this is what makes the charm of this fantastic Bristol boozer.

The Mayflower, Bear Pit

Over the years we’ve had the odd late-night finish when it comes to South West Silents film screenings and afterwards we usually entice the musicians who’ve been accompanying the silent film that night to join us for dinner at this right royal gem of a restaurant. Hidden away within Bristol’s infamous Bear Pit it can be a bit daunting if late at night (especially when it’s raining as well) but it is very much an illusion as this is the best Chinese restaurant in Bristol (maybe even in the South West).

Someone once told me that the best Chinese restaurants will have the widest amount of choice, in my experience (and I’ve been to quite a few over the years) that’s simply not the case. Like all restaurants your menu should be the best food you want to showcase and the food at the Mayflower is just the right amount of variety and everything is fresh and gorgeous.

And when the conversation while eating isn’t about the food then it will always jump to film and (more than likely) back to business. But as Keith Floyd once said, “Good food means harmony and harmony is good for business” and when it has come to SWS or even Cinema Rediscovered business talk while eating here, it’s always turned out for the good. Although, I do upset everyone who joins me by ordering the same dishes nearly every time; but what can I say, their special fried rice and beef and ginger is just the best you can get.

The Knowle Pub, Knowle

Great food at pubs can come and go all the time, but I’m happy to say I haven’t had one bad meal at The Knowle for all of the years I’ve been going there. Highly recommend their Sunday lunches as well, but do book your table in advance. And the beer isn’t too bad as well as the view at the back of the pub (and in the garden).

Raj of King Street

With being away filming quite a bit throughout the year it is more than likely that the filming crew I’m with will want to go for curry. And while I love curries (madras being my favourite) I have got a bit bored with it all. There is nothing wrong with it of course, but there is far more to Indian cuisine than your standard British vindaloo. So over the past couple of years I’ve started adventuring into their vegetarian dishes far more and haven’t been disappointed, in fact, some of the crew have taken up on the idea as well. If there is a dish you should keep an eye out for, then check out  bharwa aloo which is a stunning stuffed potatoes dish, sometimes served with an incredible almond, coconut gravy.

Anyway, Raj of King Street is another regular haunt for many of us whenever we have either a South West Silents event on or when Cinema Rediscovered is taking place and I just love the fact that we are underneath King Street and the family who have continued to run it since 1981 are always great hosts. Alas, they don’t serve bharwa aloo (although I have hinted it to them a few times) but they do have a selection of great aloo side dishes which are always worth trying out. So before ordering that regular curry, have a think, and go on a culinary adventure and as an added bonus, the dishes are usually cheaper.   

Chris and Jo’s Kitchen, St Michael’s Hill

Before opening their own place on the top of St Michael’s Hill, Chris and Jo had a residency in the kitchen of the Vittoria pub on Whiteladies Road back in the day. In fact I think I ended up having lunch there once every week at one point. So I was very much split between devastation and delight when I found out that they had found their own spot nearby. After all, who likes change when it comes to food? Especially when the food was this good!

The surroundings might have changed but the food is still as rich and tasty as it was when I first had it. I haven’t been able to visit the restaurant as often as I used to recently, but my heart skips a beat every time I step through their door.

About the author

James Harrison is co-director of South West Silents and the newly launched Film Noir UK as well as  co-curator of Cinema Rediscovered Film Festival. When he isn’t in a cinema he can usually be found wondering the streets of Bristol on a culinary adventure. And if he isn’t doing that then he’s usually away filming for BBC Studios, which is his actual paying job. 

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