A Monday lunchtime catch up with the lovely Erica from La Dame Gateau called for a venue that was close to the bottom of Park Street…damn the constraints of one hour lunch breaks! The decision was easy in the end: I’d heard great things about No. 1 Harbourside but hadn’t yet eaten there. This was the perfect opportunity…
Having opened in summer 2010, No. 1 Harbourside has established itself as a waterfront venue that offers something different to its big chain neighbours, and feels somewhat out of place (don’t get me wrong – out of place in a GOOD way) in its location at 1 Canons Road.
This can probably be explained when you realise that No. 1 Harbourside is brought to you by the same people as The Canteen. And the BS1 venue does have a bit of a Stokes Croft feel to it: a focus on locally and ethically sourced produce, a mish mash of functions (cafe/restaurant/bar/live music venue/Bristol Ferry booking office), rustic wooden furniture and the whole vibe of the place make it a relaxed and welcoming venue for a multitude of occasions.
The food menu changes daily, and is normally publicised via No. 1’s Twitter feed and Facebook page. All main meals come with free bread and soup to start, and an array of pastries and cakes is displayed on the (fully licenced) bar to tempt those with a sweet tooth, beside a small chalkboard advertising the availability of fresh oysters.
Choice is fairly limited when it comes to main meals: normally a list of around six options, ranging from about £5 to £10. There’s a selection of fish/seafood, meat and vegetarian options to suit all tastes, and if those don’t appeal then you can make your selection from the sandwich menu instead.
After ordering our mains at the bar – mussels and black pepper fries (£5) for me, and a stuffed Portabella mushroom with Stilton (£6) for Erica, we retreated to our table with our table number (I loved these too, individually designed flags on wooden poles!) with our drinks. The soup appeared not long afterwards: a small portion of rich, thick and creamy parsnip soup, a fantastic combination of sweet and savoury. We wolfed this down pretty quickly, and mopped the bowls clean with the hunk of fresh, soft white bread that we’d also been given.
Onto the mains, a heaped plate of salad, mushroom and Stilton for Erica which she declared to be ‘amazing’, and for me a bowl of steaming mussels and a side of black pepper-coated fries: a very generous portion considering the price tag. The mussels themselves were plump and beautifully cooked, swimming in a tangy and creamy white wine-based sauce, and the fries were lovely and soft inside but could have done with being a little crispier on the outside. My only regret was that I hadn’t saved any bread – or indeed, my soup spoon – to mop up more of the sauce!
I’ll definitely be back here for lunch in the near future. It’s quirky, relaxed and charming, with friendly and efficient service, a great-value and regularly changing menu, and the kind of atmosphere that makes it perfect for anything from a catch up with friends to a business lunch. I just wish the weather had been nicer so that we could have enjoyed watching the world go by from the tables outside…
No. 1 Harbourside
Telephone: 0117 929 1100
Address: 1 Canons Road, Bristol BS1 5UH