Pinkmans Bakery, at the top of Park Street, was named among the Sunday Times’ top 30 bakeries in the UK in November 2016. But while we enjoyed our visit, we wouldn’t have classed it as Bristol’s best.
The large glass windows at the front reveal a bustling, lively interior that always seems to be busy every time we walk past. Step through the door and you’re faced with a counter groaning with all sorts of cakes, pastries, sandwiches salads and more. Behind it, the bread offering: loaves of various sourdough loaves, baguettes, rye breads, walnut loaves, olive flutes and more.
There are a few tables at the front, and at the very back of the bakery, there’s a seating area for those wanting to enjoy anything from breakfast to an evening meal and drink (Pinkmans is open Mon-Wed 7:30am-9pm, Thu-Sat 7:30am-10pm and Sun & Bank Hols 9am-6pm, with bread fresh out the oven at 8am). Diners are seated at long, bench-style tables – often sharing with strangers – with comfortable high stools, where they’re asked to take a seat, look at the menu and head to the counter to order, where they’re given a table number if ordering something that takes more effort than simply grabbing it from the counter.
Anything you order from the counter, you carry to your table – hot food is brought to you by the Pinkmans serving staff. With it being such a busy place, the back of the venue can end up with a bit of a bottleneck, which isn’t ideal when you’re juggling hot drinks and trays of food…
There’s plenty of food to choose from too: pastries, cakes, savouries, sandwiches, various breakfast dishes, soups and stews, pizzas…it’s not just bread and cake. On the drinks front, there’s a range of teas and coffees – all around the £2.50 mark – along with fresh pressed, cold pressed and bottled juices, cocktails and spritzers, beers, ciders, spirits and more.
We took a seat at the back of the bakery, with a great view of the bakers hard at work in the open kitchen complete with wood-fired oven. The dining area is a beautifully designed space, with exposed light bulbs with spiral filaments, high wooden planters on the walls and a great buzz.
We started with a fantastic loose leaf Moroccan mint tea from the Canton Tea Company for me, and a silky smooth, decent strength latte for Chris, while waiting for our lunch to be brought to our table…
I’d heard great things about Pinkmans’ toasties, so it would have been rude not to try one… We both went for the cheese and ham option, and it was pretty good. The white sourdough bread was nice and thickly sliced and buttered on the outside before toasting, giving it a good, crisp crunch. Inside, a combination of Gruyere, Cheddar and bechamel gave the requisite gooey, stringy consistency which went well with the saltiness of the ham…but in all honesty, I was a little disappointed. The addition of the bechamel meant that the cheesiness was less pronounced, while the ham could have done with being sliced a little thicker to make more of an impact.
The other element of the Pinkmans Bakery menu that’s often raved about is their sour-dough-nuts…and they certainly looked amazing, as you’d expect for £2.80 each. On the day, there was a choice of rhubarb and yoghurt, honeycomb or chocolate brownie sour-dough-nuts – flavours change regularly, and there’s plenty of seasonality involved.
I chose one of the rhubarb and yoghurt sour-dough-nuts to take home: topped with a shard of white chocolate and beautifully, perfectly rounded, I was excited.
In all honesty, though, I was a little disappointed. The filling was spectacular: the yoghurt adding a lovely sour tang to the seasonal rhubarb – and there was plenty of it too. The doughnut itself, while well-made, was incredibly light, almost too much so, and there was no real sourdough flavour, which was a shame.
With all that having been said, we’d certainly go back: we loved the atmosphere, and we’d be interested in trying other options from the menu. Judging by other reviews and by Pinkmans’ clear popularity, we may well be in the minority in terms of what we thought on our recent visit…
Have you eaten at Pinkmans Bakery? What did you think?