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Bunch of Grapes, Bristol

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user reviews of the Bunch of Grapes, Bristol

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

After a visit to the Gryphon (rockers pub), I moved on to Smoke & Mirrors. This place has a quaint frontage and stretches back a fair way from the street. It's a pub that focuses on magic. But on this day, it appeared all of its customers had done a disappearing act. Not willing to join them, I drank up swiftly. 3 ales were on - Caledonian Deuchars IPA & Edinburgh Castle & St Austell Tribute. Disappointing.
blue_scrumpy - 5 Jun 2016 18:09
Renamed to Smoke and Mirrors since my previous review, this is now a sister pub to the Illusions Magic Bar up on the triangle. Although the basic layout is unchanged since it’s Bunch of Grapes days, it’s had a bit of a makeover and what was the the rear band area is now curtained off when not in use for live magic acts, which are only a couple of times a month.

There’s a round bay window at the front, and a white grand piano has been installed here. The long wooden bar counter remains on the left, and some high tables and stools have been added opposite along with portraits of various magicians such as Houdini. Unfortunately whereas previously the whole wall was covered in a collage of posters showcasing many years of shows from the Hippodrome opposite, this has now been painted over in a rather depressing black paint. If the new owners want a new look, then fine, but why not just fix some plasterboard over the top so that the history of the place is at least preserved, if not on view, instead of just destroying part of Bristol’s theatrical heritage?

Beers on tap were Butcombe, Tribute and Flying Scotsman. Ciders were a slightly disappointing Strongbow and Scrumpy Jack. Unfortunately due to the cultural vandalism that has been perpetrated, I can do nothing other than award this the lowest possible mark, and I will not be visiting again.
Blackthorn - 14 Jan 2013 19:08
Cool bar, lots of character and great staff
frankw5 - 16 May 2012 17:01
Beers on a recent visit were Caledonian Chocolate Drop, London Pride, Old Speckled Hen, Doom Bar and Hobgoblin. Ciders were slightly disappointing with just Symonds Founders Reserve and Scrumpy Jack.

Blackthorn - 25 May 2011 13:18
This place has lost a lot of its, no, ALL of its character since being refurbished. Ripped out most of the old fixtures and fittings, and replaced by bland pubs r us furniture. The lights were uncomfortably and unnecessarily bright, which everybody in our group commented on. They still have live music but the 'singer'/ 'guitarist' in last night was just awful, wailing loudly and badly out of tune to about five punters. For the record, last night's ale choice was an uninspiring and average Doom Bar, flat Bombardier and OKish Spitfire. Oh, and when doing the place up, they seemed to have forgot the toilets, which haven't been touched since about 1987 and stank to high heaven. A pub ruined.
Dandillus - 4 Apr 2010 11:38
Busy on a recent Saturday evening, so hopefully trade has picked up. Found it closed on a Monday though, so presumably not worth their while opening earlier in the week.
Recently refurbished, although nothing significant seems to have changed. The small bar at the rear still caters for bands on many nights, with an emphasis on blues/jazz. Much improved since the smoking ban; many of the clientelle didn't just stick to tobacco. Quick and efficient service fron the lone barman.
Dissapointing range of beers with just two of the six pumps in use, and they both had the same beer on - Blindman's Mine Beer, although there was also Tetley's Dark Smooth on tap.
Ciders were Symonds Founders Reserve, and Thatcher's Traditional straight from the barrel.
Overall I'd say room for improvement, but still vastly better than most of the bars nearby.
Blackthorn - 28 Feb 2010 16:44
Visited last Saturday very early evening - warm welcome and decent pint but was amused by the sign "Hot food served here or bring in your own takeaway" - thinking it's not much of an advert for the chef. Then in walked half a dozen guys, all with takeaways. Chatting to one of them about the sign, he said "Food's bloody rubbish here, but the beer's bloody good". Just about sums it up!
BobOs - 9 Jul 2009 19:28
9pm on a pleasant Thursday evening saw Doombar(reasonable quality),Bombardier and Websters Green Label(that was turned round) and no customers. A freehouse???? The music was loud and out of setting on arrival but the pleasant barman had the manners to change it and reduce the amplification without prompting. A revisit by one of our party on the Friday night saw one customer in. Needs something doing........
an_ecunemical_matter - 7 Jul 2009 19:50
As an irregular customer to this pub (based in Bristol but work away) I must say the place seems to be getting more lively regardless of Kellogs Credit Crunch. The welcome is much warmer than the beer which is more than can be said for the majority of "pubs" in Bristol. Good to see a long needed refurb in what has always been a warm and friendly pub and regardless of choice, the real ales being kept well. An oasis of true britishness in a desert littered with kebabs. Good on ya Grapes!!!x
McChuckle - 7 Jan 2009 01:37
beers , theakstons dark smooth , doombar , deuchars ipa , bombardier . lager choice , a bit bog standard , sorry , slightly above average . slightly .
beatles38 - 26 Dec 2008 14:23
Jaycey (previous poster): sounds like you need to use the 'licensee' section of this site.

And, an_ecunemical_matter simply posted something in good faith. No need to be snippy, it does you no credit.

Joan_Crawford - 19 Nov 2008 13:40
From visitng the pub before the refurb, i have to say the owner has certainly done it justice! It looks great. Very friendly and the staff are extremely efficient. The atmosphere on a friday night is second to none... where else can you go for great live music free of charge! The pub is clean, the drink options are fantastic..... sorry Mr whoever you are regarding the Ales.... they are still Real Ales and the pub isnt tied! Get your facts right! Anyway, me and my friends had an amazing time. If your looking for somewhere friendly with a warm atmosphere, clean beers, efficient staff and great entertainment for all ages then this is the place to go! I had a wicked time and will certainly go back next time im in bristol. Thanks Bunch of Grapes... keep on doing what you do! If we dont support our pubs, they wont be around forever!
jaycey - 6 Nov 2008 11:34
Reported that the BOG is no longer free of tie on ales......................
an_ecunemical_matter - 3 Nov 2008 16:16
Been in nere a couple of times now and on both occasions found it to be a terrible place. Awful staff, incredibly miserable looking old codgers who stare at you when yoy walk in, depressing place.
hammers101 - 27 Oct 2008 07:59
The BOG has had a refurb,and in fairness sympathy has been applied. Behind the bar seems more spacious and a proper stage has been put in,along with a new("domestic" looking though)carpet,and its had a post cancerstick ban repaint. Some of the theatre 1980/90s posters have survived. The range of ale has taken a severe step back,with Deuchars and Theakstons XB the only offerings,although both were good. The landlady was still fagging out the back door when people were waiting like my previous visits. Gone up a peg by my balanced reckoning but still not as good as a few years ago as mentioned quite vociferously in previous reviews!!!! And I though I could rant.......
an_ecunemical_matter - 10 Sep 2008 00:24
Opposite stage door of Hippodrome, and decorated with lots of old show posters randomly pasted on the wall.

Staff and clientele tend to the goth, though plenty of other types in as well.

Popular for pre-gig drink, as close to several venues.

Also does 'open mike' talent nights, wherein the deluded but confident strum and caterwaul.

Excellent stuff!

Beer is fine (someone else will have to tell us what) and the atmosphere is pretty friendly.

Suspect a few people were put off when the 'G' fell off the name lettering and wasn't replaced for some time.

Basically, the B O G is a good thing.
Joan_Crawford - 11 Apr 2008 16:27
Some good real ale. Unfortunately let down by poor customer service.
pxk99 - 25 Aug 2007 16:23
No pinball or jukebox anymore,quiz machine(not posh type) usually monopolized by landlady or irritating regular. Ale alas "hit and miss",characters from past visits fewer and fewer. |Counter manky,ashtrays swilling,behind bar grim,2 week old gig posters still up,empty bottles on optics.
A few weeks ago the irritating regular previously mentioned felt he had the right to barrack 2 ladies that they should "P**S OFF AND P**S SOMEWHERE ELSE IF THEY WERE ONLY GOING TO USE THE TOILETS!!" Pity they were drinking and comprised 25% of the clientelle.
The big bloke that had the place before wouldn't have had the place like this. 4/10-if only for nostalgias sake and the knowledge that good times might return.
anonymous - 30 Nov 2006 18:58
With a leaning towards the leather-bound brigade, and being in a central location a stone's throw away from countless mediocre trendy waterside bars, one might expect the Grapes to yield little in the way of either good ale or entertainment. Happily, this is not so in either case, as the pub is both lively, boasting a more mixed crowd than expected, and also a superb range of real ales, which I'm pleased to see seem to be more popular than the flavourless fizz. I confess to having had a poor pint here on one occasion but every pub has its off days.
Plenty of raw character and well-worth a visit, especially if your evening is heading in the direction of the Waterside area - make the most of it!
TWG - 17 Oct 2006 17:42
Not many honest boozers left in downtown Bristol, but here's one just a projectile vomit from the Centre which manages to keep the punters happy. Good mix of people, nicely rammed of a weekend without being unpleasant and always a good selection of beers from small breweries. Add in all kinds of live music and a top juke box and here's a pub for all seasons.
WebelMC - 25 Sep 2006 22:06
Excellent pub, fantastic beer and loads of choice. Always good to hear the Clash on the jukebox!
JockStrap - 3 Sep 2005 18:04
Really good pub - right next to the Theatre so excellent for interval drinks. Interesting decor made up of old theatre posters, regular live music and comedy. Great place to end the night as it's right next door takeaway alley and the legendary Kashmiri Night's curry house.
Sal - 11 Jun 2004 16:23
One of the best pubs in Bristol, no high chintz decor, great music, good beer, very handy for nearly eveything Bristol has to offer and a very freindly bunch of regulars.

Visit or miss a good night out
Jon - 27 Jan 2004 17:46
Very much a no-frills stick to the carpet type pub but the beer's excellent and it's one of the few 'real' pubs left in the centre of town.

I've seen some hilariously bad acts on talent night. Worth a visit for that alone.
Rufus - 10 Nov 2003 16:35

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