It’s Sunday morning in the centre and Bristol is waking up. I’m sitting on a ludicrously comfy sofa outside Number One Harbourside, a recently opened bar and restaurant next to the tourist office and underneath screen three of the Watershed where I will soon be watching a special midday screening of Belleville Rendezvous.
Ferry boats are landing at the Cascade Steps and the red tourist bus is picking up passengers from across the water as the number of people walking back and forth along Bordeaux Quay slowly rises.
One overheard topic of conversation is that the new Radisson Blu tower on Broad Quay (right) is not so different to the Bristol & West tower it replaced. Fair enough, if different shades of blue glass getting lighter as the tower reaches the sky look no different to you than an ugly concrete monstrosity.
Just a few hours before, this ‘strip’, which Number One Harbourside stands at the entrance to, would have been heaving with boozed-up party goers, but it is now a picture of civility.
The night time scene here is also starting to change, thanks to the arrival of Number One Harbourside, the latest brainchild of Mr Tobacco Factory George Ferguson. The Harbourside is aiming to be far removed from the vertical drinking culture that this corner of Bristol has become infamous for.
As well as being a cafe, bar and restaurant, Number One Harbourside has also got a live music license, is home to the booking office of the Bristol Ferry Boat Company and is the base for a new pilot market on the quay edge, which before midday on this Sunday morning is soon packed with customers sitting outside on the tables and chairs.
Inside, decoration is shabby chic, with hand-drawn signs, colourful hand-painted columns, and one wall next to what becomes the stage area crammed with paintings in different frames, many hung at jaunty angles.
Three chefs from the Star and Dove in Totterdown have been brought in to do the cooking, with the menu full of locally sourced produce. There are beers from the Bristol Beer Factory, English wines, and a shop selling teas, herbs and remedies.
Number One Harbourside is exactly what the harbourside needs, an unpretentious venue open to all which can be a catalyst for other small businesses to revitalise a part of Bristol that for too long has been a place where some people simply have not visited after dark.
Number One Harbourside, Bordeaux Quay, Bristol.