In spite of the twee name, The Cosy Club chain is, it turns out, not dissimilar in concept and business model to Browns, where we visited for dinner the day before my daughter’s graduation in Bristol. CC, of which I had never previously heard (unlike Browns), became a perfect brunch venue before the main event.
The similarity with the beautiful building housing Browns Bristol became quite evident when we entered Cosy Club’s glorious Grade 2 listed net-palladian ex-banking hall, complete with marble floor, grand pillars, a delightful glass dome and tastefully decorated interior, conveniently located on Corn Street BS1. At the far end a raised mezzanine floor, designed to add tables with a perfect view down the banking hall and maybe afford some privacy to the tables below, though I would not fancy eating underneath the newly inserted floor.
However, no question about it, this is the grandest and most splendid location in which breakfast was ever eaten, short of a palace. But let CC’s website fill you in on their approach:
Quirky, eccentric and playful the Cosy Club offers informal casual dining, drinking and lounging in a homely and family friendly environment. From a lazy breakfast to evening cocktails, or a light lunch to a hefty burger, we’re here all day. The interior of a Cosy Club is cosy (strangely enough)! Eras and styles clash in an eccentric yet eclectic fantasia. The furniture is a mixture of dining tables, battered old club chairs, and sleek vintage 1930’s sofas. On the walls you’ll see oil paintings opposite banners as well as portraits alongside flags. The occasional splash of taxidermy and all sorts of unusual pictures and prints. Lighting is soft and sumptuous to set the correct ambience. We love working with the features of the each of the buildings the Cosy Club’s inhabit all of them telling their own story. You can read more about what each Cosy Club venue has to offer here.
In short, this is fine so long as you are not a purist, but most American tourists will be entranced.
Admittedly we entered very early into the breakfast session and therefore had little competition for the service, but it was to a tee amiable and swift, for which grateful thanks.
In the drinks section I spotted good and not so good. My children both chose fresh orange juice, emanating from a proper orange juicer near the coffee machine, over the hall from where we sat – full marks for that. Ex-wife’s tea was, so far as I could tell, perfectly acceptable, but my black Americano was simply not strong enough to satisfy. I’m guessing the blend of coffee was not the best, but second time around I needed an extra shot to make the coffee acceptable to my palate.
That was pretty much the last thing I had to criticise, for the food was perfectly good and decent throughout, if tending slightly towards the trendy. For example, my daughter chose something called a “really elegant brunch” consisting, in the words of the menu, of the following:
Rather Elegant Brunch £7.95 Bacon and avocado with herbed spring onion & chive rösti, baby kale, re-roasted tomatoes and a sun-dried tomato dressing on the side, topped with a poached egg and pumpkin seeds
It sounds like the kitchen sink had been thrown at the dish in order to impress, though the kale dominated. Superfood it may allegedly be, but you can have too much of a good thing.
Ex-wife chose another slice of voguish grub with her avocado brunch, adding lime, chilli and coriander to the toast, avocado and topped with a poached egg. Worth saying all the poached eggs (we had four between us) were cooked to perfection – and I say that as a consummate egg poacher. The yolks were not quite burnished gold but these were clearly quality free-range specimens.
At the other end of the fashion scale, my son unsurprisingly plumped for a stack of American-style buttermilk pancakes with smoked streaky bacon and maple syrup. I’m sceptical that any UK establishment can do justice to what is almost America’s favourite dish, but it did look pretty good, and he cleared his plate double quick.
As for me, I chose the eggs benedict, renamed as “cosy eggs.” Apart from the muffin-style bread, poached eggs and hollandaise (not too vinegary), I selected from the menu “Cornish-smoked maple bacon.” Whether that was bacon sourced elsewhere and transported to Cornwall for maple-smoking is not clear, but the product itself was thick and tasty.
I also sampled an Old Spot sausage, though at £1.50 a pop it was a pricy side. The sides menu also includes an extraordinary array of other foods, including felafel to broaden the experience yet further, though I was most gratified to spot that toast can be ordered with Tiptree jam, best of the best (and as a Tiptree resident I feel an obligation to fly the flag for our best local products!)
All in all, had we had more time to spare I would have happily taken a newspaper into CC and spent several contented hours there drinking in the atmosphere and the fortified coffee. Doubtless the same experience would be afforded for dining at later times, though maybe the acoustics would be an issue if the restaurant were full.
Otherwise, I am happy to suggest you chill for a few hours in Bristol CC, and maybe even to check out the other branches. I do not like chains, but at least with breakfast you are pretty much guaranteed food cooked from fresh ingredients, and that makes me happy.