Lunch at Matina – St Nicholas Market, Bristol

Fresh Mint Tea at Matina in St Nicholas's Market, Bristol

Fresh Mint Tea at Matina in St Nicholas’s Market, Bristol

I don’t really do eating out reviews as there are so many people who do them in blogworld but just this once…

I always have a good time visiting the covered market, which runs adjacent to Corn Street in the old part of Bristol City centre.  It is a small intimate space, which hums and buzzes with small independent food stalls, where you can either pick something up to take away, or sit down in one of their improvised seating areas and tuck in to a Caribbean curry, a Moroccan tagine, or a Portuguese fish lunch. There is a juice bar, a sausage shop, a pie shop, pulled port, pita and salad bar and loads more to choose from all crammed into this glass-roofed arcade of delights.

Matina is found at the far end of the market opposite the linen stall.  There is a constant queue outside and the reason is obvious. It is staffed by three busy cooks,  one making fresh breads, one on the grill and one organizing the salads. The baker sets the pace, as each order is made as it is taken. Kurdish bread is big, soft and fluffy, something like a naan.  We loved watching the baker stretching the dough over what my friend described as looking like an oversized darning cushion before positioning it inside the tandoor oven. He did the forearm slap as well!

Fresh Fresh Fresh!

Our shared mezze

The front of Matina’s is full of huge bowls of brightly coloured fresh salads, gleaming red cabbage and yellow pickles. The combination of the smell of sizzling koftas and chicken on the grill and the magical smell of freshly baking bread was enough to stay in my memory the first time I noticed it and I have now been back twice.  They offer fresh mint tea, or rose or apple tea and you can sit in an area adjacent to the kitchen where there is a communal table and benches and watch the queue move along and chat to other hungry folk seduced by the wonderful smell of freshly cooked food.

Today Brian had another enormous wrap filled with chillis and chicken and lamb and I shared a plate of mezze with a friend. We had the grilled halloumi on courgettes and aubergines, fresh lemony humus, and tzatsiki  and pickled vegetables and sauces together with a fresh bread.

We said no to the rice or couscous that was offered with it and we ate very well both of us sharing the plate.  It is incredibly good value and well worth queuing up for if you have a spare half an hour one lunch time.

There is something about eating outside in winter that appeals to people who spend so much time indoors and in the market you are both outside and inside, sheltered from any bad weather that happens to be lurking about.  It rained again this afternoon but we are promised better weather this weekend and Spring is happening regardless. Bristol’s public green spaces are full of croci at the moment. I don’t know whether there have been mass plantings last year or whether they particularly like the damp but they are so pretty, purple and yellow and white jewels brightening the roadsides and parks. I love them!

croci in Bristol

19 thoughts on “Lunch at Matina – St Nicholas Market, Bristol

  1. cityhippyfarmgirl

    Looks lovely Joanna. I think I would happily eat a mezze plate like that most days of the week….hmm, actually I think I will try and make something similar for the weekend, yes I will. Thanks lovely :-)

    1. Joanna Post author

      You know when something hits the spot, that plate and place just did it yesterday – have a wonderful weekend Brydie xx

  2. maree

    Yum! That mezze plate looks so good I can almost taste it!
    Thankyou for sharing the love.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Happy food shared with a dear friend is just the best :) Hope you are well Maree, just reading Tartine 3 and feeling all inspired to do new work with bread !

      1. maree

        Very well thankyou. I have havent seen Tartine 3 but just googled it…looks very exciting!!
        Doesnt it feel good when you get inspired to try something new, even if it is a twist on an original? What are you going to try?

        1. Joanna Post author

          Is there anything really new in breadmaking? I don’t think there is, but then I saw these wonderful pasta machine rolled flatbreads with herbs sandwiched between layers and they just look so beautiful if labour intensive and I might have to try making them, I haven’t read the whole book word for word yet, but it is just bubbling with excitement, can see why people are such fans of the books :)

  3. michaelawah

    croci!!! And I would have happily gone about saying crocuses my whole life if not for you. Then again, I might still continue making that mistake :) very nice shot of the CROCI :))

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hehehe, you can say crocuses, I think one can say either! I remember it from childhood people arguing about it and I never know which one to write, so I went with croci here. They are just everywhere the last few days, funny little flowers :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Spring is definitely in the air, though it could all change and spin on a pin, all depends which way the wind blows in this country xx

  4. Jan

    The mint tea looks wonderful and the mezze plate. I love those kind of interludes in a frosty world, cocooned and every sense warmly fed. The little crocus/croci look so beautiful – magical little rewards after winter. If I ever, ever make it to England again, I’m going to that market!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I love mint tea and would love to sit in the market with you if you ever make it here again ! x Jo

  5. Gillie

    Sounds wonderful. It sounds a bit like la marche des enfants rouges in Paris. You grab a table and one of the stalls provides you with a menu and out of a space the size of a coffee table comes the most delicious lunch.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Old markets provide all sorts of opportunities for people to set up and just cook their hearts out and for spontaneous happy lunches. Paris sounds great Gillie!

  6. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    I love indoor outdoor eating. Over here it’s become popular for cafes to have front windows that fold away completely, so that people can sit by or actually on the windows, as well as outside, for the whole al fresco experience. What a lovely place your market is! That mezze platter is the sort of dish I always go for – love dipping! :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      We have those foldy window cafes too, but not in this old arcade – they do look good. I thought I had posted about this market a long time ago but try as I might cannot find the post. It is a lovely foodie spot for lunch in the week, has a nice buzz and is very low key and good value.

  7. narf77

    I’m here! I might be a few days (ok…weeks…) late but I am HERE! :) That absolutely positively doesn’t mean that I am on top of my RSS Feed Reader, just that I made it to “Z” :). Oh dear…the coffee shop is empty! I think I missed all the fun :(. Your mezze looks magnificent. Just my kind of grub sans the meat. I really don’t know why people complain about vegans so much…when you go out with them to eat you get all of the “good stuff”! :). I am confused…I have a pink crocus that just finished flowering…eh?! Lovely (drool worthy) post Joanna :)

    1. Joanna Post author

      Loads of lovely veggie food here in the market snd around Bristol. Particularly fond of the Thali Cafés at the moment. I like the setting of this market, it is old without being touristified, serves a wide range of people and has lots of independent traders.

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