Packed with acclaimed restaurants, bars, breweries and markets, Bristol’s food scene offers an impressive level of choice, quality and diversity. It also means that any new restaurant opening faces tough competition.
There’s much to suggest that newcomer Dela has true staying power, though. Located just off trendy St Marks Road in Easton, Dela (which means ‘share’ in Swedish) is all about a relaxed, Scandi-style, communal approach to dining; its calling card rustic trencher-style boards loaded with locally sourced, seasonal goodies for diners to share, naturally.
Home is Mivart Studios, a former Victorian factory that’s now a haven for local artists and creatives. Owners Lara Lindsay and Mike Orme have wisely showcased the industrial heritage of the studio space, from the exposed air conditioning ducts on the high ceilings to the wide windows that flood the room with light. Lots of houseplants dotted everywhere add softening touches of luxurious greenery, while tables and chairs are minimalist and artfully mismatched.
Care is taken to ensure the food is as ethical as it can be, and suppliers have to meet quality, proximity and sustainability criteria, with lots of local businesses making an appearance on the menus, from Arbor Ales to the Bristol Cheesemonger.
Dela serves food all day, including breakfast, lunch and a more substantial offering in the evening (for the latter, you’ll find sharing dishes such as Danish sourdough pancakes topped with sea bass ceviche or pig’s cheek ragu).
We were here for brunch, where the menu was a mostly fish and vegetable-led affair; from seared smoked mackerel, tarragon, crème fraîche, poached eggs and dill butter on sourdough to open sandwiches with toppings such as butter bean, griddled courgette, hazelnuts and parsley. Sweet-toothed diners can choose from an array of pastries, from frangipane tart to cinnamon and cardamom morning buns.
In keeping with Dela’s communal vibe we opted for their sharing skillets, which impressed: a dish of smoky, charred cauliflower was paired with deeply flavoured, slow-cooked tomato and toasted seeds, while spicy, rich ’nduja and cool soured cream added winter-bulking heft to tomato-baked eggs.
All dishes, served on Dela’s signature long wooden boards, came with door-step slices of well-made, toasted sourdough and bowls of leafy cavolo nero. Drinks are, unsurprisingly, local choices, and good ones at that: a Wiper and True amber ale and Burrow Hill cider – no mimosas or bloody marys, when you’re brunching in Bristol.
Menu must-order at Dela
The menu warns that the sharing skillets take 20 minutes to make but they’re worth the wait: good-value, generous dishes that deliver on flavour (the beautifully cooked tomatoes in both of the skillets we tried were a particular highlight).
Service can feel a little cool, which probably works at a casual brunch but may bother some if the same is delivered at dinner.
Price range: Bargain: sharing skillets are £12 (for two people), while individual brunch dishes start at £4.