Readers with long memories might remember number 51 North Street as the Full Moon, a down-to-earth pub where the karaoke and pool table were as popular as the cheap lager and somewhere you might not want to spill somebody’s pint without first checking your life insurance policy hadn’t lapsed.
It was one of those ‘proper’ pubs where you didn’t want to linger too long and the only food on offer was a packet of nuts or a cellophane-wrapped cheese roll.
When the Full Moon closed its doors, it was transformed into The Hare and then Leveret, two trendy, if short-lived, craft ale pubs with a beards-and-beanies clientele that reflected the fast-changing area as gentrification spread its tentacles along North Street.
After 150 years as a pub, the site is now an even trendier wine bar run by two couples – locals Charlie and Natalie Taylor-Johnson and Sophie and Henry Poultney, who run Grace + James, a similar operation in Birmingham.
(Image: Kym Grimshaw)
As well as being a wine bar, Kask is also a shop with a range of around 100 wines to take home and you can also refill bottles from the draught wines served on tap.
If a bar serving draught wine (including trendy orange wine alongside the red and white) and beers in 2/3 pint measures (albeit the lovely Bristol-brewed Lost and Grounded Keller Pils and Good Chemistry Kokomo Weekday) raises an eyebrow from older Bemmie inhabitants, there are sure to be a few locals who will simply throw their hands up in despair and kick the cat when they hear that a plate of cheese and crackers at Kask costs £6 and a few slices of salami will set you back £5.50.
(Image: Kym Grimshaw)
Not that the cheese and salami at Kask aren’t worth the price tags. It’s all sourced from top-flight producers and food made by artisans always comes at a premium.
From a choice of four different cheeses on offer – some accompanied by sourdough, some with quince jam or honey and walnuts – I went for Somerset-made Westcombe Cheddar, which is certainly one of the best of its type.
For £6, it was a generous slice of Cheddar (nutty, lemony and a deep and long-lasting flavour that you won’t get from a bland supermarket own-label version) and the ample crackers were several notches above your bog standard Jacob’s or Ritz biscuits.
I’m not sure what brand they were but they had the upmarket look of crackers from Bath’s award-winning Fine Cheese Company and I’m sure there was a Miller’s Damsel charcoal wafer in the pile.
(Image: Kym Grimshaw)
There was also a blob of smoked chilli jam which introduced a bit of much-needed heat to proceedings on a chilly November evening.
The ruby red salami had been made with Chianti red wine and pork, its spicy richness countered by a cluster of vinegary cornichons.
I went for the smaller cheese and charcuterie options, which are enough for one person, but the larger groups around me were sharing the £9 cheese and salami plates.
The organic/sustainable wine list changes all the time so will probably be different already but I tried the honeyed but zesty Hei Matau Marlborough white from New Zealand’s Wairau Valley and the ridiculously quaffable Le Grappin Côtes du Rhône red, both dispensed from their respective Bristol Blue Glass wall taps.
By 6.30pm, Kask was packed and buzzing with chat, laughter and the clinking of glasses as locals poured through the door on their way home from work.
Kask also plans to host events in future and if you are still thinking about your festive wines, check out the ‘Big Xmas Wine Tasting’ on November 30. Limited tickets are available for £30 and around 30 wines will be available to taste and buy.
There will be those older Bedminster residents who probably never thought they would see the day when such a venue would open on North Street but wine bars have moved on a lot since the days of Filofax-clutching Yuppies and TV’s Del Boy falling through the bar of one in the 1980s.
Wine bars are back but they are also moving with the times and Kask is a perfect example of this new wave.
What was a traditional Bemmie pub for 150 years is now a cool wine bar for a new generation of discerning drinkers and I’ll raise a glass to that, whether it’s red, white or orange.
Kask, 51 North Street, Bedminster, Bristol, BS3 1EN. www.kaskwine.co.uk
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