Thursday, 5 February 2015

Another Ruby in Another City

So having not posted for a bit I handed the pen over to Emma, my son's girlfriend, to write about Stokes Croft, a particularly niche part of Bristol of which Emma is a native. You may be asking if this is true to the nature of my blog but hey, it's A Ruby in A City just not THE Ruby in THE City - OK!

Emma at The Pipe and Slippers

A visit to Bristol would be incomplete without a night out in Stokes Croft. Where better to experience that unique Bristolian spirit than on a small stretch of road that proudly declares itself a People’s Republic?  That’s right, The People’s Republic of Stokes Croft (to give it its full title) exists to promote the area and its people through creativity and social activism. The buildings are adorned by vibrant street art; a breakdancing Jesus, Banksy’s ‘Mild Mild West’, and the provocative ‘Think Local Boycott Tesco’ demonstrate Stokes Croft’s commitment to fostering talent and independence within the community.

But enough of all that and down to our true purpose: some good old-fashioned drinking! We begin our journey at The Canteen a cafe, bar and live music venue that stays busy throughout the day and into the night. Keeping it local we sample both the Independence, an ale brewed by the Bristol Beer Factory, and the Ashton Press cider. Among the crocheted lampshades and hand-painted furniture the atmosphere is cosy and relaxed. Strangers are encouraged to share tables, artists spread out their materials and a low murmur of voices pleasantly fills the room. Come the evening however the tables will be pushed aside and the cavernous space filled with live music and some serious skanking. I’m not one to use a clichĂ© lightly but with beautiful (sustainably sourced) food, a splendid range of drinks and free live music every single night of the week there really is something for everyone at The Canteen.

Onwards to the Pipe and Slippers where we sink into wingback chairs next to the fire and sip the fearsomely strong Philosopher cider. Don’t be fooled by the name and rather Sherlock Holmesesque decor however, the Pipe and Slippers can get as lively as the best of them. A DJ booth is stashed innocuously in the corner and a blackboard boldly proclaims Thursday to be ‘Slow and Low’ while on Sunday we can look forward to the ‘SkyLion Reggae Party’. Once again Stokes Croft shows itself to be the belle of all balls with a place that can offer both port wine on tap and a 1am licence. Come in early for a quick pint in a cosy, old-man pub and the vast array of local scrumpy might just persuade you to stay until closing.

Our third and final stop of the evening is Full Moon the gatekeeper of Stokes Croft and a personal favourite. The best thing about Full Moon is the large outdoor area between the bar and its sister venue Attic; perfect for enjoying summer evenings this expanse also plays host to an independent traders market every weekend. This courtyard is a great space to chat with friends or make new ones (the giant, psychedelic mushroom statue provides a good talking point as well as handy chair if all that cider is getting to you). It wouldn’t be Stokes Croft if there wasn’t provision for some sort of dancing and Full Moon does not disappoint with DJs playing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. That being said the dance floor is effectively just a corridor opposite the bar so if you really feel like throwing some shapes I would recommend heading across the way to Attic where there is ample room.

By this point our brave odyssey around the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft had left us slightly worse for wear and though I would love to regale you with tales of Lakota, Crofters Rights and other such places the adventure must end here. Let it be said that in true Bristol style Stokes Croft will draw you in with its laid back, community vibes but may just entice you into dancing till dawn before having a quick snooze on Turbo Island (don’t ask). A magnificent mish-mash Stokes Croft definitely requires a follow up visit.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Ruby on Ruby

So I work on the edge of Shoreditch, I didn’t know this for several months until someone pointed it out to me. It was something of a revelation, I thought I worked in the City but hey ho.

Don’t get me wrong I’m quite happy to work in Shoreditch it has a cool reputation and it means I can wear jeans to work instead of a pin stripe suit!

And you know what, throw Hoxton into the mix and its actually a very interesting place to hang out, Its one of those places that every time you go you see something different, a new bit of graffiti or a funky bar and of course there are more blokes with beards and skinny jeans than you can shake a stick at but hey hipsters are people too you know!

Anyway, I like to think I have become something of a Shoreditch aficionado, I often take off on lunchtime safari’s around the area seeking the cool and interesting and on one of my earlier expeditions I stumbled on a tucked away little lunch spot called, strangely enough, Ruby.

I almost missed it and actually thought it was a shop but couldn't pass up the chance to go and have a look even if was going to be full of worn out jeans and 80 quid T- shirts.

Well, shop it wasn’t and super trendy cafĂ© it was.

I can't really grow a decent beard so could never be a hipster but I have had the odd henna tat on holiday, I'm probably more of a fauxhemian truth be known, but anyway, as soon as I stepped through the door at Ruby it felt… well it felt like my kind of place, great vibe, always full of people whatever time you go and if you’re really lucky you can sit at a table!

Me and my pal Laura at Ruby sitting at a table.

Me and my pal Sze also at Ruby also sitting at a table

I have no idea the name of the guy who runs it but I’ve asked him several times to tell me why he called it Ruby – he promises to tell but never does; I sort of sense a family connection, yeah go on there's definitely a likeness!

The Guy

My love affair with the Ruby grilled chicken sandwich started right there, right then. It is without doubt a legendary bit of scoff and for a fiver you could have one every day – I don’t you understand –  three a weeks my limit, I think that’s fair.

They do lots of other stuff, the soup is fab and there are always three or four pasta dishes. I can never choose between them and always end up wanting what someone else has had!

Ruby really comes into its own when you’ve spent the previous evening round the corner in Curtain Road or Rivington Street. Is it coincidence that Ruby is so close to my favourite bars?

Talking of which had a cracking night out a couple of weeks ago and managed five bars in one night, I think in anyone's book thats a decent effort.

These bars are all uber cool, Callooh Callay in Rivington Street is one of my real favourites and the Strongroom on Curtain Road is turning into a regular haunt which my son Elliot introduced me to, but I have to say the stand out bar round here for me is Nola which my daughter Jennifer first went to on a Remy Martin jolly (don't get the wrong idea about my kids!!). Nola is a real speakeasy, dark and moody, tough to find, no signs, you have to go through the Bedroom Bar to get to it but it really is worth it. Great cocktails, great ambiance and the barman, does he know his stuff or what!.

More to follow on the above in my next post, I must remember to take pictures and write stuff down before I'm slumped in the back of a cab at midnight!

But the good news, a night out like that properly sets you up for another Ruby grilled chicken sandwich the very next day – every hangover has a silver lining!