Mid-morning on a Tuesday, and Wapping Wharf is abuzz with chattering coffee-sippers, iPad-wielding tourists and scuttling school children dressed as pirates.
Beside the pristine pedestrianised thoroughfare, Cargo glints proudly in the morning sun. And understandably so: Bristol’s new retail yard made from recycled shipping containers is working out rather well.
“Cargo encapsulates Bristol’s independent spirit, showing an incredible number of independent businesses side by side,” says chef Alex Hayes, whose new venture Squeezed is set to bring an excitingly different take on burgers and lemonades to Cargo’s culinary line-up.
Squeezed is so new, in fact, that we’re sipping our (excellent) coffees in nearby café Little Victories, while a throng of rowdy machines finish Squeezed’s environs ready for its August opening. A shame, as this would be the perfect morning to cool off with one of Alex’s watermelon and rosemary lemonades.
“I haven’t seen lemonade done quite like this in the UK,” he says of his zesty kaleidoscope of a drinks list. “It’s so versatile, so I can have a lot of fun with the ingredients – like I do with my burgers.”
Alex’s burgers already have citywide kudos: at his last job his “St Werburger” (a homage to the bohemian Bristol neighbourhood) was voted one of the best burgers in Bristol. This sterling combo of double beef patty, Monterey Jack cheese, smoked bacon and caper aioli, chipotle and tomato relish plus confit shallots comes with him to Squeezed.
“It’s all about finding that umami, that ultimate savoury flavour,” he says, brimming with softly-spoken eloquence. “Flavours such as capers pair really well with beef and I love playing around with combinations.”
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Even before he’s fired up its grill, Alex has already felt huge warmth for Squeezed, having raised much of the necessary cash through crowdfunding.
“The support in Bristol is amazing. From people who eat in your restaurants to those on social media talking about what you do, taking pictures of what you do, to the chefs in the industry.”
“Someone the other day referred to it as ‘the Bristol love-in’. Whatever you call it, I can’t imagine not having that now.”
Photos from left–right (top–bottom): ND Johnston/Shutterstock; Phil Watson Photography/Shutterstock ; Ruth-Ellen Davis; Ruth-Ellen Davis; Ruth-Ellen Davis; Ruth-Ellen Davis; Ruth-Ellen Davis; Ruth-Ellen Davis; Jon Craig; Carolyn Thompson.