A recent addition to the successful Boston Tea Party chain can be found in Stokes Croft in Bristol. As my friend who lives there (Stokes Croft, not, contrary to rumour, the Boston Tea Party itself), aptly put it: “just what Stokes Croft needs, another café”. When it opened, there were already three excellent places within a two minute walk (and now there’s a fourth across the road), so the Boston Tea Party needs to be pretty special if it’s going to make a mark.
Don’t worry, it is.
It’s got the usual Boston Tea Party coffee, the wide range of cakes and food, but what makes it stand out is the seating. Well, the seating and the atmosphere, which sort of goes with the seating. Well, the seating, atmosphere and friendly staff. You get the picture.
It’s a got a broad patio out front which provides some protection from the breeze and the noise of the busy Cheltenham Road (I stress some) and inside there is every sort of seat you could possible want. Beyond that, it’s just a great place to hang out on your own or with friends (or, in my case, with my laptop and camera).
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
Once upon a time, there was the Boston Tea Party. However, that was a long time ago. Now there are the Boston Tea Parties: four in Bristol and another eight throughout the West Country. They’ve even got as far as Birmingham! One of the more recent additions is on Cheltenham Road at the top of Stokes Croft. I’ve already discussed the abundance of excellent cafés in Stokes Croft, so obviously this Boston Tea Party has that something special that’s required to make it into Brian’s Coffee Spot.
Let’s make one thing clear: that something special isn’t having “Boston Tea Party” on the door. Much as I love the Boston Tea Party, there are branches that don’t wow me. I’ve got nothing against them, but they don’t have that something special that I’m looking for. One of the (many) admirable things about the Boston Tea Party is that it doesn’t subscribe to the modern cookie-cutter approach, where the key is to churn out identikit cafés, all conforming to the brand down to the final detail. As a result, no two branches are alike. While they are all recognisably Boston Tea Parties, each is its own creation, with its own atmosphere and appeal (or lack of it).
So, what’s so great about the Stokes Croft branch? As usual, it’s that indefinable “something”. There’s a relaxed atmosphere, which is partly layout and partly down to the universally excellent and friendly staff. I’ve already waxed lyrical about the seating: if you can’t find the perfect spot, it’s only because someone else has got there first. It helps that it’s laptop-friendly, with free wifi (you need the code which is on the sign next to the till), although if I have one complaint, it’s that there could be more power outlets. As far as I can tell, the only ones are in the little annex to the right as you come in. Although that might be a deliberate tactic to stop people like me from moving in permanently!
Unlike its parent on Park Street, I associate the Stokes Croft Boston Tea Party with breakfast. This is probably to do with its location, five minutes’ walk from my friend’s house, an acceptably short stroll before breaking my fast. Park Street, on the other hand, is 30 minutes’ walk and by the time I get there, if I’ve not had breakfast, blood could be spilt. Despite its wide range of food, I’ve never thought of Park Street as a food place at all, more a coffee-and-cake-in-the-afternoon place. In contrast, Stokes Croft fills a number of roles, coffee and cake being one of them, and breakfast another. Strange how different places are perceived, depending on which niche they fill.
The Boston Tea Party has a great breakfast menu by the way: it’s got the usual full English, plus a vegetarian option, along with my favourite, Eggs Florentine (plus Eggs Benedict and Eggs Royal for the meat and fish eaters). It’s also nice to see scotch pancakes (as opposed to American pancakes) on a breakfast menu, although I’m a great fan of both. And finally, it’s one of the few places that does good porridge (Mimi’s Bakehouse in Leith being another).
So, in conclusion, while Stokes Croft doesn’t NEED another café, I’m very glad that it has!
You can also see what I made of all the other branches of the Boston Tea Party that I’ve visited.
|156 CHELTENHAM ROAD • BRISTOL • BS6 5RL|
|www.bostonteaparty.co.uk||+44 (0)117 329 1454|
|Monday||07:30 – 19:00||Roaster||Extract (espresso + filter)|
|Tuesday||07:30 – 19:00||Seating||Tables, Comfy Chairs/Sofas, Bar, Outside|
|Wednesday||07:30 – 19:00||Food||Breakfast, Lunch|
|Thursday||07:30 – 19:00||Service||Order at Counter (food), Counter (drinks)|
|Friday||07:30 – 19:00||Cards||Mastercard, Visa|
|Saturday||07:30 – 19:00||Wifi||Free (With Code)|
|Sunday||08:00 – 19:00||Power||A few|
|Chain||Regional||Visits||7th September 2012|
If you liked this Coffee Spot, check out the rest of Bristol’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Bristol.
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