The Crazy Fox

A drawing of a very smug-looking fox in a circle on a black background, with the words "Coffee Bar" above and "The Crazy Fox" below.Regular readers will know of my love affair with Victorian Arcades. So, imagine the scene. I’m walking through Bristol’s lovely St James Arcade (previously known as The Arcade), connecting the Horsefair with Broadmead. With its high, vaulting, glass ceilings, it’s very beautiful, and I find myself bemoaning the fact that such a glorious arcade isn’t graced with a great coffee shop. And then, what should I come across, but The Crazy Fox?

In fairness, Mark Taylor had given me the heads-up on twitter about The Crazy Fox and I’m sure I recall Girl in Bristol tweeting about it. However, they’d both said it was on Broadmead (which it is), and, for whatever reason, I’d not connected that with the Arcade. Hence my surprise.

The Crazy Fox spreads over two floors, a bright and spacious spot with plenty of seating. As much as I like small Coffee Spots, it’s great to find a Bristol Coffee Spot with plenty of space that isn’t a Boston Tea Party. Serving a house-blend and single-origin on espresso, plus batch-brew filter, all from Bristol’s Roasted Rituals, The Crazy Fox also has Kokoa Collection hot chocolate, soft drinks, bottled beer/cider and wine, plus sandwiches, soup and cake.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • At the southern end of Bristol's St James Arcade, The Crazy Fox overlooks on Broadmead.
  • It's here, on the right, with its neat outdoor seating area on Broadmead itself.
  • What a neat row of tables.
  • However, if you want to go inside, you need to head into St James Arcade itself.
  • The entrance is on the right. No, not this door...
  • ... this one, the one nearest Broadmead.
  • Before we go in, let's look up... There's appears to be a second floor to The Crazy Fox.
  • Stepping inside, the counter is to the right, against the opposite wall.
  • There's also a retail shelf down here and a bar in the window to the right.
  • There's also another window-bar to the left, along with a high-table for four.
  • Personally, I liked the hexagonal table in the opposite corner.
  • There's more seating on a raised platform at the left-hand end.
  • There's another hexagonal table in the corner to the right at the top of the steps...
  • ... while this cosy little table for two is at the back.
  • There are also some sofas and comfortable chairs up here, including these in the window.
  • Another look at the hexagonal table in the corner.
  • The view of The Crazy Fox from the raised platform. Except... where do those stairs go?
  • A helpful sign on the wall reveals all.
  • Let's go up, shall we?
  • The stairs take a right-hand turn near the top...
  • ... before opening out into the Foxes Den, which spans the entire upper floor.
  • There's plenty of seating up here, starting with this sofa & armchair at the top of the stairs.
  • There are more comfy chairs on the right...
  • ... and more conventional tables/chairs on the left.
  • This includes this neat, little one in the corner (complete with desk lamp)...
  • ... and this, my favourite, in one of the windows.
  • However, not all the windows have lovely seats in them.
  • A view from the back of the Foxes Den.
  • The flight of stairs on the left leads to another floor, but sadly that one is staff-only.
  • Instead we'll go back downstairs. I swear those steps weren't as steep when I came up!
  • Artwork abounds both up- & downstairs. This is at the stop of the stairs. Colourful, isn't it?
  • This running fox is from the Foxes Den upstairs. Like most of the art, it is for sale.
  • I liked this picture above the water station upstairs.
  • I'm pretty sure that the mural on the back wall of the Foxes Den isn't for sale though.
  • Downstairs and more artwork. Plus a mirror.
  • More pictues.
  • Light-bulbs. And reflections of light-bulbs.
  • And again. And again.
  • So, to business. There is a large and generously-stocked counter downstairs.
  • The food is on the left, the coffee on the right.
  • There are sandwiches, wraps, quiche, soft drinks, beer & cider in the big chiller cabinet...
  • ... and more goodies in the glass case next to it.
  • Croissant, anyone?
  • There's also a large set of retail shelves, with coffee and merchandising...
  • ... and hot chocolate, from Kokoa Collection, no less.
  • The menu is on the wall behind the counter.
  • Coffee choices.
  • More details on the coffee choices.
  • The business end of The Crazy Fox, Part I: espresso grinders (right) and an EK-43 (left).
  • The business end of The Crazy Fox, Part II: a three-group La Marzocco Strada.
  • Nice use of the upside-down flat white cup, but not a gerat view!
  • That's better :-)
  • My flat white, made with the Roasted Rituals house-blend...
  • ... and my breakfast muffin which came with it.
  • I also tried the guest espresso, a single-origin Rwandan from Roasted Rituals.
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Bristol’s pedestrianised Broadmead is in the heart the city-centre shopping area, where high rents can often drive out independent, high-quality speciality coffee shops, making The Crazy Fox, which opened in October 2014, a welcome addition. My confusion about the location, by the way, arose because while The Crazy Fox has a window overlooking Broadmead, plus a neat row of tables on the pavement, it’s actually part of St James Arcade (both the address and the door are here, the door being first on the right coming from Broadmead, or last on the left, if, like me, you come down from Horsefair).

The Crazy Fox runs along the arcade as it slopes upwards towards Horsefair. Tall windows line the arcade side, making the Crazy Fox bright and spacious, aided by high ceilings and a simple, white-painted interior.

Downstairs, The Crazy Fox occupies what was probably once two units, the separate parts on slightly different levels. The main area, at the Broadmead end, is the lower one. You enter here, the counter against the opposite wall, running off to the right. The cake/food is directly ahead of you, the till/coffee on the right. The three-group La Marzocco Strada faces the front window, visible from Broadmead, so you can stand at the counter and watch your coffee being made.

There are window-bars either side of the door, while to the left, there’s more seating: a four-person table and, against the back wall, a hexagonal table in the corner. Between them, three steps lead up to a comfortable lounge area at the Horsefair end. Another window overlooks the arcade, plus there’s a second door (which isn’t in use) up here. Another hexagonal corner-table, a small, two-person table, plus a couple of sofas/comfortable chairs provide the seating.

However, that’s only the half of it. The counter conceals a staircase, which, starting opposite the hexagonal table, leads up and around to a large, upstairs lounge (the Foxes Den). This runs the full length of the two units with a mix of sofas, armchairs and conventional tables. While the ceiling is lower and the windows are smaller, it’s still bright and spacious. The walls (both upstairs and downstairs) are adorned with a variety of artworks, most of which is for sale, the artists on display changing on a monthly basis.

The Crazy Fox has a decent food offering, with cake, soup and sandwiches. Since I was there for breakfast, I had the halloumi and mushroom breakfast muffin, toasted of course. This was lovely, the mushrooms and halloumi giving it plenty of flavour and texture.

Having not come across Roasted Rituals prior to this trip, The Crazy Fox was one of three places serving its coffee that I visited on this trip (Playground Coffee and Tradewind Espresso being the other two). I passed on the batch-brew filter but tried the house-espresso (a blend of Ethiopian, Rwandan and Colombian) in a flat white with my breakfast and followed it up with the Rwandan single-origin as an espresso.

My flat white, which was a pleasingly small 6oz, was very smooth and sweet, while the milk held its pattern all the way to the bottom of the cup. The espresso, which was well-made, was bright and fruity, but a little too bright for my palette at that time of the morning!

34-36 ST JAMES ARCADE • BRISTOL • BS1 3JD
www.crazyfox.net +44 (0)7939 574153
Monday 08:00 – 18:30 Roaster Roasted Rituals (espresso + batch-brew filter)
Tuesday 08:00 – 18:30 Seating Bars, Tables, Tables (outside)
Wednesday 08:00 – 18:30 Food Sandwiches, Soup, Cake
Thursday 08:00 – 19:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 08:00 – 19:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 08:00 – 19:00 Wifi Free
Sunday 09:30 – 18:00 Power Limited
Chain No Visits 12th January 2016

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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4 thoughts on “The Crazy Fox

  1. Hurrah! It’s a welcome counterpoint to all the chain coffee shops in Broadmead. The Starbucks in Cabot Circus has a great view but it’s still a Starbucks. TCF used to be one of those Pasty Shops and the unit opposite was (another) Starbucks and has since been a florists and a clothes shop. Things don’t seem to stick very well in the arcade, apart from Shakeaway, so I hope they manage to change that.

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