**This was a paid collaboration with Foodstuff Bristol**
As much as I’m enjoying village life, there are elements of living in central Bristol that I do miss. For seven years we were in a flat overlooking the buzz of the harbourside, conveniently (sometimes dangerously temptingly) placed for the delights of Wapping Wharf and beyond.
If you’re on the south side of the river and stick purely to Wapping Wharf, though, you’ll be missing out on some of the best toasties that Bristol has to offer.
You’ll find these at Emmeline at Spike Island, open Wednesday to Sunday 10-4, serving up breakfasts, lunches, drinks and snacks with a conscience. Of course there’s nothing quite like making it over there yourself, but if you can’t physically get to the cafe but still want to enjoy what they have to offer you can place an order for delivery with Foodstuff Bristol. The delivery company is passionate about championing local food and drink businesses, treats and pays its riders fairly and offers 100% emission-free deliveries, fitting perfectly with Emmeline’s ethos.
There’s no denying that Spike Island itself isn’t a particularly attractive building, but the effort that’s gone into making Emmeline look beautiful more than makes up for it. It’s a cafe with a light, airy feel and a place that feels particularly Instagrammable: white tables with white and natural wood “school chairs”, high-backed stools providing seating by the window to watch the passers-by on Cumberland Road, and a wall with wooden shelves atop a long, high-backed bench, the shelves themselves adorned with a variety of potted plants and cookbooks – I spied Polpo, Dishoom and Leon in the collection, among others.
Food should be a treat for all the senses, not just the taste buds, and the Emmeline team has worked hard to make their counter displays look just as appealing. On one side of the till you’ll find the counter piled high with savouries, salads and paper-wrapped sandwiches, while on the other side you’ll be tempted by a delectable display of pastries, cookies and cakes.
With breakfast and lunch options – including their enormous grilled sourdough sandwiches – there’s plenty of variety on offer for all dietary requirements.
The same goes for the Emmeline drinks menu, featuring not only a great selection of classic hot and cold drinks, but also the exciting flavours of their homemade juices and smoothies.
These include their red juice (£4): an earthy yet refreshing blend of beetroot, carrot, apple, cucumber, ginger, acai and lemon. Freshly made to order, the juice itself was beautifully presented and the flavours worked well together: a delicious combination of earthy, zingy and sweeter flavours, finishing with a light cucumber note.
As I’d arrived slightly earlier than the mad lunchtime rush (which did mean I didn’t have to queue, which was a bonus – the place got seriously busy!), the Reuben sandwiches hadn’t yet been made when I ordered. No drama though, I sat and enjoyed my juice while I waited.
In addition to the salt beef, Brie, Cheddar, Dijon mustard and sauerkraut that are included as standard in the £6.90 sandwich, diners have the option of adding salad leaves, pickles, jalapenos and mayo (or any combination of the four) after it’s cooked – and all of the Emmeline sandwiches can also be ordered with gluten-free bread if desired.
This thing was enormous. Sprinkled with toasted seeds and packed so full that you could see the cheese oozing out the sides, it was a thing of beauty. And as with any meal, it’s the small touches that can make a big difference – like the fact that the sourdough was sliced on the diagonal so that the crunchy crust was easier to bite through without the whole sandwich disintegrating in my hands.
While there was a little too much punchy Dijon mustard in parts (as evidenced by the watering of my eyes), it was one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. Using sourdough bread not only added flavour but also helped to keep the sandwich intact – much needed, as the sheer amount of cheese inside was insane. The salt beef was beautifully tender, its unctuous fatty layer still attached in places, and the crunch of the sauerkraut, combined with the jalapenos and sliced gherkins, worked perfectly. Just bear in mind that you’ll need two things when you order one of these: a massive appetite, and plenty of napkins.
The picture below gives you more of an idea of the sheer scale of that toastie – and while I was proud of myself for defeating it, I didn’t need to eat for the rest of the day.
It did mean, sadly, that I didn’t have the appetite to try one of their amazing-looking cakes. I guess I’ll just have to plan a return visit at some point in the near future…