Review: The Florist, Bristol

Within days of opening, The Florist in Bristol became the must-visit destination for after work drinks, afternoon tea and dinner dates. The Instagram community fell in love with the picture perfect interiors and soon there was no escaping it in your social media feeds. But is it worth all the hype? It might look lovely, but is there more to it than just being a trendy photo location?

What is the interior of The Florist like?

I’m pretty convinced, as shallow as it may seem, one of the main reasons that people go to The Florist is for the interior. It was certainly the main reason that I wanted to check it out the first time I went.

Split over multiple levels, each room of the Florist has a slightly different vibe, whilst all sticking to the same floral theme. On the ground floor, the bar that you first enter is quite small and at first it appears that there isn’t much room, however the building is a bit of a tardis! The Orangery on the top floor is the most well lit and offers views out across the city. It also has some elaborate floral decor hanging from the ceiling, and decorating the beams of the building. It’s a lovely space and feels very open.

One floor down, it’s less well lit and feels a little dingier. Floral photos and murals adorn the walls, although in the corner there is a rather elaborate flower display which takes up a lot of room. Somewhere (I am yet to go in myself) is the much photographed neon room which has a floral wall with neon sign. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were multiple other rooms hiding within the building that I know nothing about! It’s certainly worth having a wander around when you go for the first time!

What is the food and drink like?

The first time I went to The Florist, I was expecting it to have a good cocktail menu, and the food menu to be very much secondary to the drinks. I assumed that the bar was the main focus, and as such was unsurprised to see an extensive drinks menu. There was a great range of cocktails (many of which were made with gin) which are beautifully presented when they arrive at your table. If cocktails aren’t your thing, there’s a lengthy wine menu and an “ale inventory” (!) to peruse. I was also impressed by the non-alcoholic options; cocktails make use of Seedlip, the non-alcoholic spirit, so there is more than just fruit juice in the drink, and there are several non and low alcohol beers.

What I hadn’t been expecting was just how good the food menu looked. The first time I went just for nibbles which I soon regretted as there was so much on the menu that I wanted to try! I made sure that the next time I went was for dinner so that I had chance to explore some of the other options on the menu.

After much deliberation, I decided to go for The Florist Deli Board, which gave me the opportunity to try four different mini dishes and came served with wholemeal flax and sunflower seed bread. Of the 20 different options I could have had, I decided to try the homemade houmous (which came with purple and orange carrot sticks), polenta-crisp Camembert, Shorrocks Lancashire macaroni cheese and sweet potato and chickpea tagine. It was all delicious and left me feeling full, but not overly stuffed. The sweet potato and chickpea tagine was particularly tasty and comes highly recommended!

James opted for a Lamb Kofta Hanging Kebab which came served with harissa chips and mint and coriander yoghurt. There were an option of different sauces and when the food arrives it is tipped to fall slowly over the kebab and drip into the bowl of chips below. It looked very impressive and I’d certainly be keen to try one myself if I go again.

As we were heading to the theatre and were both feeling quite full, we decided not to have dessert on this occasion. However, on my previous visit I had tried the elderflower meringue and caramelised peaches with Prosecco jelly, raspberry coulis and toasted almonds. It looked very pretty and it tasted nice but, as you may be able to tell from the description, it just seemed a little bit fussy. There were lots of fiddly little components on the plate when really I’d be much happier with chocolate brownie and ice cream!

It’s worth noting that the menu is very good if you are heading out with a group who have lots of different dietary requirements. In addition to a completely separate gluten-free menu being available, it’s also really clear on the main menu what is vegetarian, vegan or dairy free.

What is the service like?

Unfortunately, the service is what lets The Florist down and prevents it from being the excellent restaurant it could be. I’ve only been twice, so am happy to admit I’m speaking from limited experience, but both times I’ve been has been straight after work so it has been very quiet customer-wise but with plenty of staff on hand. The first time I went, I remember it taking a while for our drinks to be served and for the bill to appear at the end but didn’t think too much of it.

When James and I went more recently, we had to wait over 20 minutes for two drinks after putting our order in. In fact, James even ended up helping himself to water as it was a hot day and we’d been waiting for so long. I was also slightly unimpressed that we were moved table after placing our order. This wasn’t too bad as we were actually moved to a much nicer table, but when you have made a reservation you expect the staff to have organised who will be sitting where for the evening. Perhaps the reason our drinks took so long was because they had lost us with the table relocation!

Both times I’ve been to The Florist I have thoroughly enjoyed my food, drink and the atmosphere and, despite the slightly disappointing service, it is somewhere that I would recommend. I’d happily go again and am keen to try either their Sunday Roast or Brunch menus so that I’ve experienced something different. There is also a Florist in Liverpool (where I’m headed later this summer) so it would be interesting to see how the two differ.

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