Tucked away in the heart of Bristol’s Old City is the particularly cosy Strawberry Thief bar. The gorgeous William Morris wallpaper (the inspiration for its name), plants and tiled floors, provide a creative and quirky space that celebrates the independents that surround it.
The Strawberry Thief is renowned for its craft beer. With over 75 craft beers from both local and Belgian independent breweries, there is a beer available to suit all taste buds. Table service ensures that it’s the perfect place for a proper catch up with friends as no-one is left spending all their time waiting at the bar - minimal interruption for when you are trying to put the world to rights.
The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, trained in the Strawberry Thief way to make everyone feel welcome and help navigate the extensive drinks list - which was particularly helpful for a beer novice like me. I was encouraged to experiment in the weird and wonderful world of Belgian Beers and tried the De Ranke XX Bitter to suit my bitter taste-buds.
This bar is about a lot more than beer though. They have an extensive list of spirits, wines and soft drinks, including their own special Bristol Dry Gin from the microdistillery round the corner (cannot get much more local than that.) I tried it (for research purposes of course) - it’s dreamy.
They are committed to being a sustainable business. Chief Thief, Mike, has a background in sustainability and consequently has focused on staff wellbeing initiatives, renewable energy, zero waste policy, as well as bottles going back to their suppliers for reuse. They are also running the Bristol 10k to raise money for local charity Penny Brohn UK.
Oh, and the food of course! The menu changes every six to eight weeks, providing dishes based on locally sourced, quality and seasonal produce, designed to be the perfect match for beers. Provided by their kitchen partner Wood Fired Events, the small menu provides options for all dietary needs. We tried:
Duck Breast - cooked to pink perfection with celeriac puree, pickled carrots, leeks, cherry and seasonal greens. The star of the plate was surprisingly the soy and garlic leeks, providing a gorgeously smoky flavour.
Pork Belly - tender meat topped with the dream that is crunchy crackling. Creamy polenta mash, labneh, hazelnut oil, beetroot puree and toasted pumpkin seeds. The variety of flavours made every bite a bit of a taste adventure.
There are always several vegan and vegetarian options on offer. The Meze Platter provides an overflowing selection of pickled rainbow carrots, sauerkraut, bulgar salad, dips, olives, pickled chilli, almonds and masses of sourdough.
If you are not quite ready for a full evening meal, I highly recommend the halloumi fries. Incredibly moreish and the perfect salty snack to have alongside your beer.
Their focus on quality and service attracts a wonderful and eclectic mix of people. Bookings are recommended if you are venturing down on the weekend - it’s seating room only and they don’t like to turn anyone away!