It’s always good to discover a new food experience before it actually opens! A trip to Woodes for the obligatory Friday morning bacon sandwich that signals the end of the working week brought with it the realisation that Shrinking Violet on Park Street has now closed…and in its place was a gleaming new shopfront. A glance into the window saw new owner Gareth lovingly adjusting the window displays, and when he came outside to admire his handiwork, we grabbed him for a quick chat.
The new shop is Swinky Sweets – a Bristol-based company that has existed since the summer of 2008, selling their signature cupcakes, fudge and marshmallows – along with a selection of retro sweets – to their sweet-toothed customers. We were told that Gareth’s mother was downstairs in the kitchen frantically baking cupcakes for today’s opening day, and after such early warmth and hospitality, it would have been rude not to venture down there once the doors had opened to sample some of her hard work.
Opening the door and glancing to the back of the shop instantly transported me back to my childhood, with a whole corner of the shop dedicated to shelves stacked with jars of retro sweets. From pear drops to peanut brittle, candy sticks to coconut mushrooms, all of the old sweet shop favourites are there and available by the 100g measure to take away.
Turning our attention to the counter, we were greeted by Swinky’s newly recruited staff – looking surprisingly lively after a six hour pre-opening training session yesterday – urging us to try some of their products. We were treated to samples of a wonderfully moist white chocolate, almond and cranberry cookie, followed by their sweet and tangy lemon meringue marshmallows, apparently handmade to order in a rural barn in Wales.
Despite only having been open a few hours, news of the shop had obviously spread. Customers were already seated on our arrival, and we waited patiently behind the couple ordering the intriguing-sounding Earl Grey milkshakes.
When the time came for us to be served, we turned our attentions back to the counter and found ourselves faced with an overwhelming selection of fudge and marshmallows…but managed to resist buying the entire supply and focused purely on the cupcakes that we had been eagerly anticipating. With no fewer than sixteen varieties to choose from, it was a tough decision to make…until we decided that, seeing as we work under five minutes from Swinky’s, we could try all the other over the course of the next few weeks 😉
We left the shop with a small(ish) selection of cupcakes to enjoy…and after we got home, the temptation was too great and we decided to sample a couple as a precursor to lunch. First on the list was the Deep Dark Chocolate Orange and Chilli, a chocolate cupcake piled with a chocolate and orange icing, the sweetness counteracted by a wonderfully fiery cayenne pepper. The Wild White Chocolate and Horseradish was the next on our list…and even better than the first. A plain cupcake with a huge mound of white icing, the horseradish flavour comes through strongly but the heat is – as with the first cakes we tried – dulled by the addition of white chocolate.
We have four more to try but are trying to ration ourselves!!
Swinky’s also sell cupcakes for delivery, and cater for weddings and other events. With prior warning, they can include writing on their cakes for special occasions, and even have a gluten-free variety so that even those with special dietary requirements can enjoy them.
For more information, have a look at their website, or pay them a visit at 20 Park Street, BS1 5JA. There’s no question in my mind that we’ll be regulars…