It might seem that a restaurant dishing up locally sourced, seasonal vegetarian and vegan food has no place existing wedged between Bristol’s main bus station and a Premier Inn. You shouldn’t let the location fool you though; Flow is accessible from the Bear Pit, and the socially and environmentally conscious nature of this renowned community hub is immediately evident. Flow consciously breaks free from the belief that we are entitled to consume any food we want, whenever we want, showing us instead how we can work within the boundaries of our local environments to produce incredible food.
With its bare white walls and recycled wooden tables, Flow’s interior is unpretentious and minimalist. Most striking is the size of the restaurant; whilst the owners easily could have squeezed in a few more tables, a decision has clearly been made to prioritise a relaxed, intimate atmosphere over a more lucrative business.
I’ve been to Flow twice, once in the wintery depths of February and most recently on a scorching hot day in early August. These visits offered vastly different, but equally ambitious, culinary experiences. In February I was treated to earthy, warming vegetables (mostly of the root variety), stews and breads (Flow was founded by the owners of East Bristol Bakery, so expect gluten of the highest calibre). Of course, in true Bristol style, all of this was given a contemporary twist; my mind was quite frankly blown by the things Flow could do with the humble parsnip.
In the summer, you can expect a menu which is devised to be more merciful to beach bodies, centred around the greater expanse of vegetables available at this time of year. I stuck with the vegan options, enjoying innovative dishes such as broad bean vignarola and bhajis made of samphire (it’s ok, I had to google what they were as well). The vegetarian options looked superb also, and I must admit to casting a jealous eye at my friend’s halloumi dish. The regular rotation of menus is definitely Flow’s most alluring trait; each visit to the restaurant becomes a distinct experience and you can enjoy multiple visits without the risk of boredom.
Flow is more than a restaurant, it’s an organisation which demonstrates how social, economic and environmental justice are all linked. Whilst I’m not sure I’m able to give up the luxury of being able to purchase bananas all year round, Flow goes a long way in demonstrating how eating in tune with your local environment and seasonal climate can be both delicious and exciting. In a time where the precariousness of our environment becomes ever more pronounced, organisations like Flow play a crucial role in imagining what a more sustainable, ethical future might look like.
9a The Haymarket Walk
+44 117 329 6266
Photos by Flow, used with permission.