Mick Dickinson of BuzzedUp enjoys a Sunday lunch at his local.
The Windmill is a warm, comfortable boozer serving quality, affordable food to the lucky people of Windmill Hill, BS3. As a longstanding local resident I have seen the pub change hands many times. In the dark days it was home to occasional BNP meetings, permanently stinking loos and a succession of landlords so inept, mean and crooked you’d count your fingers when collecting your change.
Thankfully Joby Andrews and Mike Cranney—the team behind The Pipe and Slippers on Stokes Croft and more latterly The Lazy Dog on Ashley Down Road—spotted an opportunity several years ago and gave residents on ‘The Hill’ somewhere decent to eat, drink and be merry.
My partner (L) and I were there to recuperate and refuel after a lovely winter walk. We were not disappointed. Taking in the mouthwatering smells that filled the pub, we enjoyed a drink and warmed up next to the fire while lingering over the order. I treated myself to a Black Simcoe dark ale from Gloucester Brewery with great respect; while L enjoyed a brambly 2010 Shiraz.
We couldn’t put off the inevitable any longer and plumped for the Sunday roast. I chose beef (cooked to perfection, tender and juicy); while L’s huge portion of heavenly lemon- and thyme-flavoured chicken almost defeated her (but not quite).
When hungry, it’s always reassuring to see everything you would hope for on your Sunday lunch plate. At The Windmill, each element reveals something surprising as you tuck in. The food is traditional yet there’s more than enough going on to keep your attention long after the first ravenous mouthfuls. For example, parsnip shavings (possibly with nutmeg) and cavolo nero cabbage cooked in orange citrus butter certainly kept the taste buds tingling. Mustard cheesy leeks, glazed carrots, a huge Yorkshire pud, gravy and lovely roasties rounded out the plate perfectly.
Special mention must go to to the sauces: a very fresh mint sauce also had a sweet honey stickiness; the horseradish was eye-wateringly powerful, exactly how it should be.
The Windmill’s cosy main area, raised room and alcove bustle with a Sunday paper-reading crowd. Families with younger children make up the lower room (the former snooker room). Chunky jumpers and beards are much in evidence. I noted French, Spanish and German being spoken at different tables — perhaps a sign of Windmill Hill’s increasingly cosmopolitan demographics. The soundtrack was Zero 7 and the Magic Numbers on Sunday but I have also enjoyed Led Zeppelin and Ini Kamoze on rotation in the past.
Top tip: Sunday roasts are very popular and have been know to sell out around 3pm. On the day I visited, the wait for food was a perfectly acceptable 20 minutes.
Monday night quizzes attract good crowds; and the Sunday night open mic sessions see a very eclectic mix of musicians plying their wares (check with the pub first).
The Windmill’s formula of good quality pub food, a changing selection of ales and ciders, plus a hearty, family-friendly welcome has won over locals and visitors alike. Well worth a visit.
14 Windmill Hill, Windmill Hill, Bristol BS3 4LU
0117 963 5440
Open Mon-Thurs Midday – 11pm, Fri-Sat midday – midnight, Sun midday – 10.30pm